The Weekly Word: Callow

weekly word

The Weekly Word is a feature where I highlight a word that I stumbled over in a book, explain where it was found and what it actually means. Reading can expand your vocabulary as long as you don’t allow the same words to continue to trip you up.

In case you missed my more in depth explanation behind this feature, check out last week’s word, effluvium.

This week’s word is:


Where it was found:
It was found in the beginning of The Prince of Shadows by Rachel Caine, a bit of a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. It will be released princeofshadowson Tuesday, and I owe a review of it before then. (Off-topic advice: when requesting review copies, you should probably check which format it would be available in. I’m not very good at reading when it’s only available on my computer…) It was on page 23 of my electronic review copy.

“Do you dare mock me?”

“No.” I truly meant that. No one sane offered her direct insult. No one living could claim to have survived it.

She sat back with a doubting grunt and a frown. “If not mockery, then that gleam in your callow face must be hate.”

Of course it was. I hated her.

Why it confused me:
I guess I assumed that callow must mean gaunt, for some reason. But that didn’t seem right given the context. Did it mean hateful? Or perhaps cunning? There were too many ways I could take what was meant to discern the right meaning without looking it up.

What it means:
adj. (esp. of a young person) inexperienced and immature

Origin: Old English calu ‘bald’; probably from Latin calvus ‘bald.’ This was extended to mean ‘unfledged,’ which led to the present sense ‘immature.’


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