David Foster Wallace

I have a thing for David Foster Wallace. I like his writing. I like his intensity. And I particularly love his wordplay and his vocabulary. And I particularly love his word play in Infinite Jest…

As a tribute to him (he recently committed suicide after losing his battle to depression) I’ve decided I will post (as many as I can stand this first round through) the first ever Infinite Jest Vocabulary List. These were selected by me either because of their non-standard use or because I wasn’t familiar with the words themselves. I’m sure you know many of these, or that there will be other words in the book that I knew and didn’t list… regardless, the list is my own hobby the I continue to update as I continue to reread the book.

If you are a word phreak, like I am… there are many words here that you will enjoy innately. And as a reference point I’ve included the page number where the word was included… and this is from the hard back 1st edition version:

Page 4: Wen
Page 5: Circumflex
Page 7: Lapidary
Page 7: Effete
Page 7: Matriculant
Page 10: Hirsute
Page 11: Presbyopic
Page 15: Cirri
Page 16: Infantophile
Page 17: Etiology
Page 22: Pleurisy
Page 24: Magisculed
Page 24: Hydroponic
Page 25: Phallocentric
Page 30: Amanuensiscum
Page 31: Priapistic
Page 33: Legation
Page 34: Supism
Page 39: Anfractuous
Page 40: Petulant
Page 45: Fantods
Page 47: Evinced
Page 48: Neuralgic
Page 52: Unfenestrated
Page 55: Elan
Page 57: Apocopes
Page 58: Experialistic
Page 59: Comme-il-faut
Page 61: Opioid
Page 61: Prolix
Page 62: Reglets
Page 63: Dipsomaniacal
Page 64: Optative
Page 65: Anticonfluential
Page 65: Elegaic
Page 66: Synesthesia
Page 67: Colloquium
Page 69: Dysphoria
Page 71: Plangent
Page 76: Uremic
Page 79: Lebensgefahrtins
Page 81: Aleatory
Page 82: Diagnate
Page 83: Palestra
Page 83: Verstiegenheit
Page 87: Candidatic
Page 91: Samizdat
Page 92: Amaneunsis
Page 93: Somatic
Page 93: Fulvous
Page 99: Thoracic
Page 100: Hyberbolicker
Page 101: Semion
Page 101: Zygomatics
Page 109: Gibbous
Page 117: Ancipitals
Page 121: Apercu
Page 122: ossiously
Page 124: Capering
Page 124: Hirsute
Page 124: Boscages
Page 127: Eidetic
Page 136: Involuted
Page 138: Mythopoeia
Page 151: Panagoraphobia
Page 151: Agnate
Page 152: Ephebic
Page 155: Erumpent
Page 155: Eclat
Page 156: Suborned
Page 158: Swinishest
Page 159: Rutilent
Page 170: Ergotic
Page 171: Supejacent
Page 174: Phonemes
Page 174: Formants
Page 174: Fricatives
Page 174: Trochaically
Page 175: Extramural
Page 185: Torticollic
Page 185: Enuretic
Page 185: Transuranial
Page 185: Hoary
Page 185: Dramaturgy
Page 185: Apres-Garde
Page 185: Anticonfluential
Page 186: Vitreally
Page 186: Chiasmae
Page 186: Numinous
Page 203: Colloquia
Page 205: Podiatric
Page 206: Sirofulous
Page 208: Magiscule
Page 208: Hyperemic
Page 209: Autolyzed
Page 212: Decoct
Page 216: Otiose
Page 216: Entrepot
Page 217: Meninges
Page 220: Sororial

And at page 220 – I’m giving up for now. I will come back to this and continue to update especially if interest is shown. Until next time –

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8 Responses

  1. Alease Fredrick

    Good site, where did you come up with the information in this article? I’m pleased I found it though, ill be checking back soon to see what other articles you have.

  2. susan

    How great to stumble on this page as I was looking up the word diagnate, because I’m reading Infinite Jest, and it soon became apparent that I needed to make a vocab list. I’m also a logophile, so finding so many unfamiliar words is like a buffet of mental stimulation.

    While I like reading in an uninterrupted flow, it soon became apparent that slowing down and taking the time to investigate and savor the unfamiliar words would be a much more satisfying and enriching exercise, and so what if it takes me weeks to read. I have some favorites already that didn’t make your list:


    And I’m only on page 80.

    Thanks for your list!

  3. Taylor

    Thanks Susan,
    No one knows their way around a dictionary like DFW did. Nobody. And the way he so eloquently and deftly turned a phrase that would just destroy Microsft Word’s grammar and spell check sanity is just brilliant.

    This blog is years old. And I still keep Infinite Jest on my bedside and read it often. I’m perpetually reading it. It lends itself to this sort of never ending – infinite jest. He was clever that Mr. Wallace. I personally will savor every word of his final book “the pale king” once it comes out. And each step I get closer to the end of the book will be a perpetually sadder step as I know there are no more words left to be had by such an insightful individual as DFW.

    I will add the rest of my words to this list someday. Just takes a while to do in this format. But I’ll do it… Just I tribute to him even if no one else ever reads it.

    Thanks for the comment Susan –

  4. Mark Wilson

    Please do more of this. I’m reading now for the first time and really appreciate the help.

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  6. Thomas Jeffries

    What … no “suprasubliminal”? Turn in your DFW card, post hastiness! The omission has left me with ennui.


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