The Word-Hoard: Unguent




a thick substance, usually with a pleasant smell, used to treat skin problems or make the skin soft.

“Unguent” is an excellent alternative to “ointment” and “salve,” should you think either of them too mundane or overused. Whether you’re talking about the fine-smelling oils that an aristocrat might apply, or a perhaps sweet-scented medicinal balm used to treat the hurts of a beaten-up soldier, “unguent” is a good choice.

The following stanza may not technically fall under the SF/F umbrella, but it’s close enough for my taste. Mark:

Five kings rule o’er the Amorite,

Mighty as fear and old as night;

Swathed with unguent and gold and jewel,

Waxed they merry and far and cruel.

– G.K. Chesteron, “The Ballad of the Battle of Gibeon”


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