Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (25)

Welcome back, wordy friends!

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by BermudaOnion each week. It's an opportunity to share new words you've encountered in your reading, or highlight words that you particularly enjoy.

Here are three of my favorite new-to-me words from How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn.  
The first and third definitions are from

1. besom. "'God damn,' Iestyn said, and went round our back as though witches were at him with besoms."  

a broom, especially one of brush or twigs.

Pretty straightforward!  I think this is an old-fashioned term though.

2. cribban. "But I thought they had stopped to use the cribban.  I had my knuckles hit bloody for talking Welsh in school, but no matter." 

No definition was listed for this word at, but I did find a site discussing Welsh language that said:
"Welsh was forbidden in schools in the early twentieth century. Anyone caught speaking Welsh had to wear a "Welsh Not", a piece of wood on a leather strap, known as a cribban, that would be passed on if someone else was heard speaking the language. At the end of the day, the child still wearing the cribban was beaten."

Good Lord.  The Brits knew how to punish back in the day, eh?

3. woad. "Welsh never was a language, but only a crude means of communication, between tribes of barbarians stinking of woad." 
1. a European plant, Isatis tinctoria, of the mustard family, formerly cultivated for a blue dye extracted from its leaves.
2. the dye extracted from this plant.

Apparently the dictionary forgot to mention that this plant stinks.

What are your new words this week?


  1. Yikes, I'd hate to be the last person caught speaking Welsh! Those are all great words!

  2. Great words, and an interesting read I'm sure. I've come across besom recently, but had forgotten it. Cribban is terrible isn't it?

  3. Cribban is a scary word, thanks! for sharing them all.

  4. These words are so obscure, I had to look at your review for "How Green Was My Valley"- sounds interesting, for a "classic." Thanks for sharing both posts, and I love your comment about the hidden insult over at Kathy's blog!

    1. Haha, yes, that's one of the fun things about learning these new words!

  5. I got caught up thinking about cribben. Its so sad the way we used to treat children for such minor things.

    1. Yes...the part in the book that includes it is saddening indeed!!

  6. My grandfather was left-handed for every thing but writing because they used to rap lefties at school and force them to write with the right hand. I'm glad we've improved education.

    Joy's Book Blog

    1. I remember hearing stories like that from my parents! Thankful for the evolution of schooling...

  7. 'Cribban' sounded alright until the description. I think I prefer the stinky woad!


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