There are books that while reading one may come across an unfamiliar word or two. Then there are books that require tucking in a sheet of paper to keep a list. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova was one such book for me when I first read it so many years ago. Among the words on my running list, one in particular became a new favorite that really should be used at every opportunity – susurrus.
Susurrus is a noun meaning a low and soft whispering, murmuring or rustling sound. The pronunciation of the word itself seems to invoke its meaning. Most commonly you’ll read a mention of a susurrus of leaves or the susurrus of the ocean. Here are some examples taken from published works:
- “There was a whispering noise that began then to run through the hall, a low susurrus that caused Shadow, in his dream, to experience a chilling and inexplicable fear.” –Neil Gaiman, American Gods.
- “The chant of their vespers, mingling its notes with the soft susurrus and sighs of the branches.” — Longfellow, Evangeline.
- “They heard the Green Fork before they saw it, an endless susurrus, like the growl of some great beast.” — George R. R. Martin, A Storm of Swords.
Will “susurrus” find its way into your vocabulary? What unfamiliar words have you come across in a recent read? Let us know in the comments. Perhaps it’ll be included in a future Word of the Month post.