The Deleted Synaesthete Headings for The Summer I Found Home

In the original TSIFH, the chapters were divided into smaller pieces, each headed by a word, its definition, and (after George informs his readers he can taste words) the flavour/texture.

My then-eight-year-old child hated these headings, and ultimately I took them out in favour of a more adult structure to the story.

Most of George’s definitions are taken from the 1888 Oxford English dictionary (I edited some definitions for conciseness). Thank you to Jen Waters for doing all the legwork of getting the Oxford English Dictionary definitions to me. If you’re interested in browsing a digital scan of the 1888 OED yourself, and you have a Windows machine (which I do not), you can find it here:

In the case of the Scots words, I referred to James A. C. Stevenson’s fine book Dictionary of Scots Words & Phrases in Current Use, as well as the good old internet. I made up my own definition for “bootlegger”, as it does not appear in the OED.


Im·pen·e·tra·ble, adjective. That which cannot be penetrated, pierced, or entered; impossible to get into or through.

Dump, noun. A pile or heap of refuse or other matter ‘dumped’ or thrown down. In Scots, a heavy blow or thump.

Skint, adjective. (British) Having little or no money available; penniless.

Som·no·lence, noun. Inclination to sleep; sleepiness, drowsiness.

Chic, adjective. ‘Stylish’, in the best fashion and best of taste.

Sol·i·tary, adjective. Keeping apart or aloof from society; avoiding the company of others; living alone.

Mur·mur·a·tion, noun. 1. The action of murmuring. 2. Alleged term for a flock of starlings.

Co·here, verb. Of persons: to stick together; to unite or remain united in action. (I like this word, but I don’t like saying it, because it’s extremely gooey, like honey.)

Dis·con·so·late, adjective. Destitute of consolation or comfort; inconsolable, forlorn. (This word doesn’t have a flavor. It’s just cold.)

Ve·neer, noun. A merely outward show or appearance of some good quality. (This word tastes lemony and brittle.)

Co·vert, noun. That which serves for concealment, protection, or shelter; a hiding place. (This word is like warm tea: Lyons brand, my favourite.)

Bar·ri·cade, verb. To block, bar, obstruct, render impassable; to shut in or defend with or as with a barricade. (This word is like cement. Not that I’ve ever eaten cement, but it tastes the way I imagine cement would taste, if I DID eat it.)

Bib·lio·phil·y, noun. Love of books, taste for books. (This word has that delightful flavor of ink on paper that you get when you stick your nose into a book and inhale.)

Pul·sa·tion, noun. The movement of the pulse in a living animal body; rhythmic dilatation and contraction, as of the heart, an artery, etc.; beating, throbbing. (This word tastes like Mamma’s rose water smells.)

Eaves·drop, verb. To listen secretly to private conversation. (Words with V in them have a lot of energy, but add in the Z sound and they turn positively ELECTRIC.)

Plac·id, adjective. Mild, gentle; calm, peaceful; unruffled, tranquil, still, serene. (This word tastes like sweet iced tea with mint.)

Shif·ty, adjective. Fond of indirect or dishonest methods; addicted to evasion or artifice; not straightforward, not to be depended on. (F is a choky, feathery letter, so this word is not fun to say.)

Anx·i·ety, noun. The quality or state of being anxious; uneasiness or trouble of mind about some uncertain event; solicitude; concern. (This word tastes like Limburger cheese.)

Rec·on·cile, verb. To set estranged persons or parties at one again; to bring back into concord, to reunite (persons or things) in harmony. (Hard C is cold like marbles, but it’s a nice feeling, not a bad one, especially in a word that also has a soft C, which is like a silky whipped cream cloud.)

Re·mem·brance, noun. The act of reminding or putting in mind. (This word is gentle, like snowflakes or raindrops falling on my tongue.)

Con·ven·tion, noun. An assembly or gathering of persons for some common object. (This word is a little sticky, like cohere, but in a more caramel sort of way than honey.)

Au·ton·o·my, noun. Having or at making of one’s own laws; independence. (This word is another one I don’t like the feel of in my mouth—tastes like slugs might feel oozing down my throat—but I do like what it means.)

Free·dom, noun. The state of being able to act without hindrance or restraint, liberty of action. (This word is like water out of a firehose. Full of power and also weirdly refreshing.)

As·per·i·ty, noun. Harshness or sharpness of temper, esp. when displayed in tone or manner. (This word is crisply acid, like cider vinegar.)

Re·ver·sion, noun. The action of reverting or returning to a primitive or ancestral type or condition; the fact of being turned the reverse way. (Another energetic word, like having a mouthful of friendly honeybees.)

Un·mind·ful, adjective. Heedless. Unminding: The action of forgetting or disregarding. (Mist. This word is mist.)

Con·fron·ta·tion, noun. The bringing of persons face to face; esp. for examination and eliciting of the truth. (This word feels like when you bite down and your teeth meet in the wrong places.)

Med·dle, verb. To concern oneself or take part interferingly. (This word is like that hint of blood in your mouth when a piece of popcorn gets stuck somewhere deep in your gums and you finally manage to dig it out.)

Evo·lu·tion, noun. The process of unrolling, opening out, or disengaging from an envelope. (This word rolls like Coca-Cola buzzing down the back of your throat and up again.)

Au·da·cious, adjective. Daring, bold, confident, intrepid. Unrestrained by, or setting at defiance, the principles of decorum and morality. (This word is hissy like a mad cat and fun to say.)

Lick, noun. A smart blow; a beating. (This word tastes like the stinky nastiness when Peach has eaten something foul and then comes and slurps my face.)

Pres·er·va·tion, noun. A thing preserved from decay; state of keeping. (I like the popcorn pop of letter P almost as much as the energy of letter V.)

Peelie-wally, adjective. (Scots) Sickly, thin, or ill-looking. (Orange marmalade, that’s what this tastes like.)

Sur·rep·ti·tious, adjective. Taken, obtained, used, done, etc. by stealth, secretly, or ‘on the sly’, secret and unauthorized, clandestine. (Another hissy, snake-y word. It tastes smooth, like Mom’s grouse bisque soup.)

In·cense, verb. To inflame with wrath, excite or provoke to anger, make angry, enrage, exasperate. (This word tastes like cinnamon candy, all spice and no sweet.)

Dol·ce far nien·te, noun. Delightful idleness, ‘sweet doing nothing’ (Italian). (I learned this one from Dad, and it’s like just the right amount of cayenne pepper on fried potatoes.)

Thun·der·struck, verb. Struck with sudden amazement, terror, or the like; greatly amazed, astonished, terrified, or confounded. (This word is thick like melted chocolate.)

Re·per·cus·sion, noun. Repulse or recoil of a thing after impact; the fact of being forced or driven back by a resisting body. (This word tastes like engine oil smells.)

Dis·so·nance, noun. Want of concord or harmony (between things). (This word tastes the opposite of what it means. Silky, like melted chocolate.)

Il·le·git·i·mate, adjective. Not born in lawful wedlock; not recognized by law as lawful offspring. (This word is bitter like orange peel. It’s not the word Mr. Pearson calls Louise, but it’s the same flavor.)

Boot·leg, verb. Unlawful dealing of liquor. Slang term originated in the late 19th century from smugglers’ practice of concealing liquor bottles in their boots. (This word is tangy.)

Ab·so·lu·tion, noun. Forgiveness of offences generally; a legal acquittal, a declaration of not guilty. (This tastes like freshly fried doughnuts with a dusting of cinnamon-sugar, light and airy.)

Il·lu·mi·na·tion, noun. The fact or condition of being illuminated; a lighting up, a supplying of light. (This word tastes like Mamma’s dinner rolls hot out of the oven.)

Pres·ence, noun. Demeanour, carriage, or aspect of a person, esp. when stately or impressive. The state of having one’s wits about one, or of having full control over oneself; calmness and self-command in trying or dangerous circumstances. (This word is firm but comfortable, like perfectly toasted graham toast. These last several words are making me very hungry.)

Re·li·gion, noun. Action or conduct indicating a belief in, reverence for, and desire to please, a divine ruling power. (This word is springy and angel-food-cakey.)

Re·sent·ment, noun. An indignant sense of injury or insult received, or of wrong or affront done to some person or thing to which one is attached. (If you get a paper cut from licking an envelope and sprinkle cayenne pepper on it, that’s what this word tastes like.)

Bleth·er, verb. (Scots) To talk foolishly or lengthily. (This word is warm and bubbly, like milk you’ve blown into with a straw.)

Com·mune, verb. To hold intimate (chiefly mental or spiritual) intercourse (with). (This word is like Mom’s lightly-sweet scones. Warm and comforting and very satisfying.)

De·lib·er·ate, verb. To take counsel together, considering and examining the reasons for and against a proposal or course of action. (This tastes like paste, if paste was the consistency of hot cocoa.)

Ec·cen·tric, adjective. Deviating from usual methods, odd, whimsical. (This is like biting into a Bosc pear. Crisp and somehow also papery and refreshing.)

Earl, noun. In England, Scotland, and Ireland, the title of a specific order of rank, corresponding to Count in the nobility of other European nations; in the modern peerage an earl ranks next below a marquis, and next above a viscount. (This word tastes like the nectar you suck out of a honeysuckle flower.)

Ca·coph·o·ny, noun. The quality of having an ill sound; the use of harsh-sounding words or phrases (the opposite of euphony). (This word is burnt-woody like charcoal.)

Eu·pho·ny, noun. Well-sounding; the quality of having a pleasant sound. (This word is like fresh blueberries.)

El·dritch, adjective. Weird, ghostly, unnatural, frightful, hideous. (This word is like that time I took a swig of milk that had gone off, rancid and bitter and sandpapery.)

Cache, noun. A hiding place, esp. of goods, treasure, etc. (This word is hard like peppermint candy but with a hint of apple peel.)

Hul·la·ba·loo, noun. Tumultuous noise or clamour; uproar; clamorous confusion. (This word tastes like drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth.)

Dis·close, verb. To open up to the knowledge of others; to make openly known, reveal, declare (secrets, purposes, beliefs, etc.) (This word tastes like grass stems.)

De·noue·ment, noun. The final solution or issue of a complication, difficulty or mystery. (Dates. This word is like fat, sweet, chewy dates.)

Nov·el·ty, noun. Something new or unusual; newness, freshness of a thing. (Mom makes these nutmeg-spiced sugar cookies with glaze and that is what “novelty” tastes like.)

Hame, noun. (Scots) A place to which one properly belongs, in which one’s affections centre, or where one finds refuge, rest, or satisfaction. (This word is soothing and smooth as chamomile tea.)