Here are the words my copyeditor was warned about

Here are the words my copyeditor was warned about April 28, 2015
(Chris / Flickr)
(Chris / Flickr)

Once my book, Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers that Even I Can Offer, (out May 7th! Tell your friends) was written, there was a lot of editing to come.  At one point, my editor wrote up a style sheet — basically a document warning the copyeditor about any deliberate deviations from normal spelling/grammar and as a heads-up for any particularly obscure words.

I thought it might be fun to collect a few of the terms that appeared on my style sheet, along with, in the best spelling bee traditions, their example sentences (out of context).


Baldr (n) – One of the Norse Gods, died in an unusually ironic way, even for mythology

Once his safety is secured, the Asgardians amused themselves at feasts by throwing knives and other weapons at Baldr, in order to watch the objects keep their promises, defy their natures, and leave him unhurt. 


Haftarah (n) – selections from the books of Nevi’im (“Prophets”) of the Old Testament that is read aloud in synagogue

In E. L. Konigsburg’s About the B’nai Bagels, her protagonist, Mark, recruits his brother Spencer to help him prepare for his upcoming bar mitzvah. As part of the ceremony, Mark has to chant his haftarah (an excerpt from the Old Testament) and is self-conscious about his weak singing voice. 


Seelie Court (n) – a formal part of fairy society in some strains of folklore

In that story, the intrepid Janet falls in love with the knight Tam Lin, who is in the thrall of the Seelie Court of fairies.


ur- (prefix) – original

I supposed that there might be some kind of authentic ur-Madison, just as literary scholars discuss the existence of an ur-Hamlet, the original source for Shakespeare’s text.



And now, if you’d like a little challenge, match the word/sentence to its proper context/topic in the book:


1. Baldr

2. Haftarah

3. Seelie Court

4. ur-


a) Petitionary Prayer

b) Confession

c) The Problem of Evil

d) Peter the Apostle


Technically, you can all just look up the answers on May 7th, but I promise to provide them in Friday’s Quick Takes.

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