unknown words

IMGP1536I love it when writers use words I’ve never come across before. Are you familiar with the word “peccant”? I wasn’t, but I keep running into it in Trollope’s Phineas Finn:

Something should be done for overgrown counties;–something for new towns which had prospered in brick and mortar. It would be easy to crush up a peccant borough or two . . .

One dash from a peccant oar would destroy the whole symmetry of my dress. Look. That green young lady has already been sprinkled.

Obviously it’s from the French verb pecher, to sin, and means “the thing sinning.” When I looked it up on my favourite dictionary site, I was surprised to see that the word is listed in 26 dictionaries. Am I the only one who’s never heard of it then?

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