The Weekly Word: Swart


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.

I’ve discovered that some books don’t have any words that make me stumble and some I race through so fast that I don’t have time to really wonder if I’m not understanding a word here or there. This feature does require me to be a more observant and deliberate reader. I also have been trying to not pull words from the same books each week, but this book I imagine will offer plenty of fodder.

This week’s word is:

swart

Where it was found:
I thought I’d switch it up and read a nonfiction book after racing through The Archived and The Unbound by Victoria Schwab. That said, I have high hopes for One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson to be both educational and interesting. Swart was first found in the prologue, page 15 (yes, I imagine there will be a lot of ‘weekly words’ coming from this book):

Time magazine, four years old and enchanted with stereotype, described Pinedo in the spring of 1927 as a “swart Fascist ace.” (Almost anyone from south of the Alps was “swart” in Time.) Pinedo was in fact not especially swart and not at all an ace-he had spent the war flying reconnaissance missions-but he was indeed a loyal fascist. With his black shirt, brilliantined hair, thrusting jaw and habit of standing with his fists pinned to his hips Pinedo was, to an almost comical degree, the very model of a strutting, self-satisfied fascist.

Why it confused me:
I imagine it has something to do with how he looked, and given the part in the parentheses, his race. But it’s one of those words where I’d hate to assume one thing and learn it means another. I wouldn’t want to try to sound educated and use the word to describe someone to learn that it is derogatory or inaccurate.

What it means:
Well, this is one of those words where the definition of the word is another form of the same word, swarthy, because swart is considered archaic.

Adjective. Naturally having skin of a dark color; “a dark-skinned beauty”; “gold earrings gleamed against her dusky cheeks”; “a smile on his swarthy face” (definition from: Hyperdictionary)

Be sure to check out the other weekly words: effluvium, callow, and louche!

What do you think?

  • Julie says:

    Hmm so that’s a real word? I’d much prefer to think it as a word combination of swanky + smart. Cause that sounds more fun.

  • How fascinating, after reading that definition I still have no idea what it means lol! I have actually never heard of it before. Thanks for your feature, learning new words is pretty awesome.

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