Home | Study Hour | Word Dose | The polite welcome

The polite welcome

  I was in Venice, sauntering through its cobbled streets, steering clear of the waterways for which the city is famous. It was there, at the end of an alley darkened by age beyond the reach of sunlight, that I chanced upon an old antique shop whose unreadable name was extolled on its frontage upon a faded sign.  

Inside the dimly lit interior of the dingy hovel, my eyes were met with a menagerie of objects arranged precariously on dusty shelves. It was a bizarre collection of costly and curious objects that perhaps indicated not so much a consistency and refinement of taste as a desire for ostentatious opulence. I knew that if I took a perverse fancy to one of those shameful remnants of past distraints on the possessions of destitute families, and proffered an interest in the price, the proprietor would have given me a figure that would have deterred even the most eccentric collector of antiquarian teratology. Nevertheless, I spent an intriguing hour browsing through the labyrinthine shop, examining with morbid fascination the various bric-a-brac that lined shelf after shelf.

1.  Sauntering (sawn-ter-ing) (v)
2.  Chanced upon (v)
3.  Extolled (ek-stohl-d) (v)
4.  Dingy (din-jee) (adj)
5.  Hovel (huhv-uhl) (n)
6.  Menagerie (muh-naj-uh-ree) (n)
7.  Precariously (pri-kair-ee-uhs-lee) (adv)
8.  Bizarre (bih-zahr) (adj)
9.  Ostentatious (os-tuhn-tey-shuhs) (adj)
10.  Opulence (op-yuh-luhns) (n)
11.  Perverse (per-vurs) (adj)
12.  Distraints (dih-streynts) (n)
13.  Destitute (des-ti-tyoot) (adj)
14.  Proffered (prof-er-d) (v)
15.  Deterred (dih-tuhrd) (v)
16.  Eccentric (ek-sen-trik) (adj)
17.  Antiquarian (an-ti-kwair-ee-uhn) (adj)
18.  Teratology (ter-uh-tol-uh-jee) (n)
19.  Intriguing (in-treeg-ing) (adj)
20.  Labyrinthine (lab-uh-rin-thyne) (adj)
21.  Bric-a-brac (brik-uh-brak) (n)
a. (of a person or their behaviour) unconventional and slightly strange
b. Not securely held or in position; dangerously likely to fall or collapse
c. The scientific study of monstrosities and abnormal formations
d. Praised enthusiastically
e. Miscellaneous objects and ornaments of little value
f. Showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable
g. Walking in a slow, relaxed manner
h. Arousing one’s curiosity or interest; fascinating
i. Very strange or unusual
j. Hold out or put forward (something) to someone for acceptance
k. Dark and dull, lacking brightness or freshness
l. Like a labyrinth; irregular and twisting; winding pathway
m. Great wealth or luxuriousness
n. A collection of varied objects
o. The seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of money owed, especially rent
p. Found or saw by accident
q. Relating to or dealing in antiques or rare books
r. Extremely poor, unable to provide for oneself
s. A small, simply constructed dwelling
t. Discourage or prevent from doing something
u. Characterised by pretentious or showy display; designed to impress


1. g 2. p 3. d 4. k 5. s
6. n 7. b 8. i 9. u 10. m
11. f 12. o 13. r 14. j 15. t
11. a 12. q 13. c 14. h 15. l
16. e