One of the things I often do as I'm reading a novel or short story is keep track of words whose definitions I do not know or that I find interesting. Either way, these interesting words are ones I feel might be of use in my own writing. That, and it's good to expand one's vocabulary every once in a while.
This latest round of interesting words comes from Karl Schroeder's Sun of Suns.
armature: The rotating part of a dynamo, consisting essentially of copper wire wound around an iron core.
boatswain: A warrant officer or petty officer in charge of a ship's rigging, anchors, cables, and deck crew.
contrail: A visible trail of streaks of condensed water vapor or ice crystals sometimes forming in the wake of an aircraft. Also called vapor trail.
diatom: Any of various microscopic one-celled or colonial algae of the class Bacillariophyceae, having cell walls of silica consisting of two interlocking symmetrical valves.
gelid: Cold; very cold; icy.
ingenue: An innocent, unsophisticated, naïve, wholesome girl or young woman.
insouciant: Marked by blithe unconcern; nonchalant.
mendicant: Depending on alms for a living; practicing begging.
minaret: A tall slender tower attached to a mosque, having one or more projecting balconies from which a muezzin summons the people to prayer.
pearlescent: Having a pearly luster or gloss.
peridot: A yellowish-green variety of olivine used as a gem.
pipette: A narrow, usually calibrated glass tube into which small amounts of liquid are suctioned for transfer or measurement.
prodigious: Impressively great in size, force, or extent; enormous.
prosaic: Consisting or characteristic of prose.
quiescent: Being quiet, still, or at rest; inactive.
sargasso: (gulfweed) Any of several brownish seaweeds of the genus Sargassum of tropical Atlantic waters, having rounded air bladders and often forming dense, floating masses.