Today's word is crenelate. It comes from p 16 of Children of Men by P D James. This is a word that I usually go past, knowing that it has something to do with buildings but not really knowing what it means. So this time, I got honest and looked it up. Then I was in a can of worms known by dictionary users as a word chain. Here we go:
crenelate transitive verb meaning to furnish with battlements or crenels, or with squared notches.
which led me to crenels.
crenel noun meaning any of the indentations or loopholes in the top of a battlement or wall, embrasure.
which led me to battlement and embrasure.
battlement noun meaning a parapet with open spaces for shooting built on top of a castle wall, tower or fort.
which led me to parapet (at which point I moved to an easier dictionary.)
parapet noun meaning a wall or bank for protecting troops from enemy fire. From French from Italian from papare, to guard + petto, breast from Latin pectus.
Sentence: OK guys, get behind the parapet before you get shot.
enbrasure noun meaning an opening, as in a parapet, with the sides slanting outward to increase the angle of fire of a gun. (Here we got a much needed picture.) From an obsolete French word, embraser, to widen an opening.
Sentence: Even though the guy was over to the right, I managed to pick him off thanks to the embrasure I was shooting through.
OK back to battlement noun meaning a parapet with open spaces for shooting built on top of a castle wall, tower or fort. From Middle English batelment from Old French bataillier, to fortify from battaille, fortification on a wall or tower. (Another great picture.)
Sentence: The soldiers were placed along the battlement with their bows, arrows and kettles of boiling oil.
OK, cool, so a crenel is a noun meaning any of the indentations or loopholes in the top of a battlement or wall, embrasure. (A crenel is an embrasure, one of those openings with the slanted sides.) It is from Old French, diminutive of the Vulgar Latin crena, a notch.
Sentence: While stooping behind the battlement, I shot an arrow through the crenel.
Back to the original word crenelate transitive verb meaning to furnish with battlements or crenels, or with squared notches.
Sentence: We finished the sand castle but it looked a bit plain so we crenelated the tops of the walls.
There, now you and I can read lots more historical fiction and know what they are talking about instead of guessing. We can also name the parts of our sand castles. All thanks to P D James. How about some sentences, guys?