Verb, int. 1. lower one’s body briefly by bending one knee to the ground, typically in worship or as a sign of respect. 2. (fig) show deference or servility.
I am trying, really trying, to not beat myself up over the fact that I have reached the age of 26 and didn’t know the word genuflect. I embrace certain gaps in my knowledge, seeing them as opportunities to learn something new and to question my previous beliefs. Vocabulary, however, seems different to me. It’s like the word is jeering at me, an affront to my choice of reading matter over the years.
I learnt the word genuflect this summer whilst reading in a garden in the south-west of France. I can’t now remember what I was reading at the time but a quick search on my kindle reveals this:
There are 5 books containing the word genuflect. This makes me feel even worse, I must have come across this word before!
Scoop and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I haven’t read these yet so that is some consolation.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. Again, this is on the to-read list. Which again makes me feel guilty as it has been there for about a decade.
The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I “read” this at the end of last year, putting it down and never picking it up again after about half way. Not literally putting it down, it’s on my kindle so I exited the file and never opened it up again, but that all sounds very clumsy. If only I’d read on, I would have learnt the word genuflect long ago. Unfortunately I found TBATD achingly boring and repetitive, though I am reminded of it every time I use the word crazy (Geraldine’s catchphrase, “you cra-a-azy” is stuck in my head forever.)
Homeland by Barbara Kingsolver. She’s done it again, Barbara has taught me another word! From her work of short stories I learnt bilharzia and now genuflect.
If only I could actually remember it though. Ever since ‘learning’ this word, when I have wanted to say it I can’t remember it properly and I end up waving my arms around and squatting to the floor like a crazy (go away, Geraldine.) Often it comes out as genfunculate, which to me sounds so great I might invent a meaning for it. Maybe I’m too old to learn new vocabulary, but I’ll keep trying.
I’d be interested to know if you’ve read ‘genuflect’ recently. Or, if you have an electronic reader, does it come up in a search?