Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (36)

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 Cooked by Michael Pollan.  
All definitions from

1. synecdoche. "In our modern, all-electric 1960s kitchen, that pot with its centripetal energies was the closest thing we had to a hearth, a warm and fragrant synecdoche for domestic well-being."   

a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part, the special for the general or the general for the special, as in ten sail for ten ships or a Croesus for a rich man.

This definition made my head spin at first, and though I understand it, I still don't entirely understand its place in the context of the book.  I feel like "metaphor" would be easier for me to understand there...but maybe I just don't appreciate the word enough. :)

2. turbid. "The pot dish, lidded and turbid, has none of the Apollonian clairty of a recognizable animal on a spit..."

1. not clear or transparent because of stirred-up sediment or the like; clouded; opaque; obscured: the turbid waters near the waterfall.
2. thick or dense, as smoke or clouds.
3. confused; muddled; disturbed.

I've definitely heard this word before, but was unclear on the definition.

3. gnomic. "The first time I asked Samin how long some dish we were cooking should cook, she offered this slightly gnomic answer: 'Until the meat relaxes.'"
of, pertaining to, or resembling a gnome.

I pretty much guessed the definition of this one, but I didn't know if it was as simple as that!  I guess he was trying to say she was being "cute".

What are your new words this week?


  1. I'm with you on synecdoche - I think metaphor would have worked just as well and it would have confused me less. Great words today!

  2. Cooked seems like a very interesting read. Lots of odd but interesting uses of words in a book about cooking. I am going to see if I can find it at our library. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, the book's subject is, in itself, fascinating, but Pollan definitely has a way with words as well!

  3. Gnomic does sound like gnome, good words.

  4. That first word is interesting. Looks hard to pronounce too. Good words, thank you.

    1. Yes it definitely took me a while to sound that one out.

  5. Well, Michael Pollen relly gives out some big words in this new book of his. I'm curious about what device he's talking about in the sentence for synecdoche. I have the book and now an excuse to dig into it.

  6. Synecdoche is one of those words whose definition won't stick with me, however many times I look it up! (Also the pronunciation...) Gnomic I thought meant more like Zen-like, something that seems simple on the surface but is deep or difficult. Fun words! I'm going to have to look up July 7th that I see you're reading. I read Jill McCorkle's Life After Life and enjoyed it.

    1. I'll have to check out Life After Life. I posted my review of July 7th this morning...interesting book, really took me by surprise.

  7. I feel I know gnomic but I think it's just the obviousness of it. Interesting this is from Cooked, I'm finding the need for a dictionary with The Omnivore's Dilemma, and thought maybe it was due to dialect differences. Now I'm thinking not.

    1. Nope, it's definitely his writing style! Pollan is either a grade-A wordsmith, or he's best friends with his thesaurus. (I suspect the former.)

  8. I can't get my head round the definition of synedoche! Some lovely use of language in these sentences.


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