Pediculous (adjective)

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  1. Infested with lice: lousy.

(Ref: Merriam-Webster Online, Word of the Day, 2 September 2020)

Use it in a sentence

There was no telling what the boss would make of the boy. The kid was a lout alright. Never stopped squirming, always making faces, sticking his fingers in things. His cap was always on crooked, and his buttons all done up wrong. He was scrawny, but you could tell he was a fighter. He’d hold his own in a scuffle.

I pushed him in front of me, towards the boss. The kid slapped my hand away, like he was swatting a fly, so I cuffed him on the ear. ‘Oi!’

The boss just looked at me, then at the boy, then back at me. He sniffed and raised his chin right up, looking down his nose at me.

‘Where in heaven’s name did you unearth this one? The scrap yard, I should imagine.’

A small cough/laugh escaped against my will. ‘Nah sir, he was skipping in and out of the stalls at the market. Caught him stealing an orange. He’s crafty. Thought he might be useful to you… for your.. er… work.’ What the boss did with these boys was not his business.

The boss prodded the boy with a silver tipped cane. ‘Turn around.’ The boy scowled but did as he was told. The little bugger could sense an opportunity.

‘He’s rather pediculous,’ the boss said, squinting through his eyeglass and screwing up his nose. He stepped closer and then reeled back with an anguished face, when he caught a whiff of the boy.

‘Erm, per… pid… what’s that, sir? I don’t rightly…’

‘Lice!’ the boss roared. ‘He’s riddled with lice! And God knows what else!’ The boss was clearly disgusted by the state of the boy. But still, I could see he was interested.

‘Oh those! Wash right off, those. He just needs a good, cold bath. He’ll be a sweet cherub once he’s cleaned up.’

The boss raised an eyebrow, incredulous, but he made a decision. He flicked me a coin. ‘On your way, scoundrel. Despite the filthy state of this boy, you’ve done well, I think. Leave him with me.’

The boy turned to give me a smirk, half triumphant, half afraid.

‘Right you are then, sir. I’ll be off.’ I winked at the boy, and turned to go. I glanced behind me as I left. The boss was smiling now, leading the boy away, with a tentative arm over his shoulder, his disgust overcome.

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