Showing posts with label wondrous words. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wondrous words. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (41)


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 The Uninvited by Liz Jensen.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. eiderdown. "Meteorologists confirmed that a conjunction of volcanic eruptions near Iceland and Japan had dimmed the stratosphere, stifling Europe with an eiderdown of ash."  

noun
1. down, or soft feathers, from the breast of the female eider duck.
2. a heavy quilt or comforter, especially one filled with eiderdown.
3. a warm, lightweight knitted or woven fabric of wool, cotton, or man-made fibers, napped on one or both sides, used for sleepwear, infant's clothing, etc.

I actually came across this word in one of Small Fry's books recently too.  Basically, a specific type of blanket.

2. subsidence. "Subsidence has skewed the gravestones so that barely any stand at right angles."

noun
This is a noun form of the verb "subside", one meaning of which is "to sink to a low or lower level."

When I first read this, I thought it has something to do with the word "subsidize" just based on the look of the word...but never occurred to me that it was linked with "subside", which is pretty easy to figure out.

3. bladderwrack. "Twenty or thirty of them are coming into view, shoaling by the black stone, naked or in rags, with clumps of salty bladderwrack on their heads and wet ribbons of seaweed or strings of bones around their necks."
noun
any of several seaweeds of the genera Fucus and Ascophyllumesp F. vesiculosusthat grow in the intertidal regions of rocky shores and have branched brown fronds with air bladders.

Super fun word for seaweed!  Nice!

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (40)


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 some of my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. apostasy. "He was, to put it lightly, a disillusioned RKC instructor, well on his way to total apostasy."  (from The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne)  

noun
a total desertion of or departure from one's religion, principles, party, cause, etc.

I knew this was sometimes used as a religious term, but I didn't understand how it fit in this context...now I do!

2. solipsism. "The entire trip takes us nearly an hour, and Jane distracts me from my solipsism by telling me an involved story about her creepy, sexist landlord."  (from Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose)

noun
1. (in philosophy) the theory that only the self exists, or can be proved to exist.
2. extreme preoccupation with and indulgence of one's feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.

For some reason, I thought this word meant laziness or sleepiness, just based on the way it sounded.

3. glossolalia. "'You'll hear snatches of speech, but it's pretty minimal.'  'Glossolalia?'"  (from The Uninvited by Liz Jensen)
noun
incomprehensible speech in an imaginary language, sometimes occurring in a trance state, an episode of religious ecstasy, or schizophrenia.

Totally new word for me, and a fun one to pronounce at that!

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (39)


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 The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. vassal. "The hoary vassal in the sweater spoke for the first time."  

noun
1. (in the feudal system) a person granted the use of land, in return for rendering homage, fealty, and usually military service or its equivalent to a lord or other superior; feudal tenant.
2. a person holding some similar relation to a superior; a subject, subordinate, follower or retainer.
3. a servant or slave.
adjective
1. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a vassal.
2. having the status or position of a vassal.

I knew the first definition of this word from my high school social studies classes, but I guess I never considered that its meaning could be used in a more modern way as well..

2. disquisition. "An elderly gentleman in green pants raised his hand, stood, and offered a ten-minute disquisition on event-controlled versus time-controlled traffic lights..."

noun
a formal discourse or treatise in which a subject is examined and discussed; dissertation.

I guessed this one from the context, but was still glad to look up the definition, since I don't think I've heard it used before.

3. ephemera. "Full runs of ephemera from The New York Times to the original Black Panther newsletters."
noun
items designed to be useful or important for only a short time, especially pamphlets, notices, tickets, etc.

I've heard this word a million times but didn't know the definition.  And now I know that I, keeper of every ticket stub, birthday card, etc., am a total hoarder of ephemera!!

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (38)


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 some of my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. soigné. "Where had these soigné children come from?"  (from Mama's Child by Joan Steinau Lester)  

adjective
1. carefully or elegantly done, operated, or designed.
2. well-groomed.

I love finding cool French words to use in everyday English.  This is one that I think would be pretty easy to drop into conversation.

2. inveterately (inveterate). "I also work here because I love books, because I'm inveterately curious, and because, like most librarians, I'm not well suited to anything else."  (from The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne)

adverb (adjective)
1. settled or confirmed in a habit, practice, feeling, or the like: an inveterate gambler.
2. firmly established by long continuance, as a disease, habit, practice, feeling, etc.: chronic.

This is one of those words that I've heard many times before, but never knew the exact definition.

3. hoary. "The hoary vassal in the sweater spoke for the first time."  (from The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne)
adjective
1. gray or white with age: an old dog with a hoary muzzle.
2. ancient or venerable: hoary myths.
3. tedious from familiarity; stale: Please don't tell that hoary joke at dinner again tonight.

Well, I was completely thrown off by this, because when I heard "hoary" all I could think of was "hoar frost", which means something entirely different.  (Stay tuned for next week when I tell you what 'vassal' means!)

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (37)


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 Dictionary.com.

1. fungible. "Exquisitely reactive and fungible, bacteria can swap genes and pieces of DNA among themselves, picking them up and dropping them almost as if they were tools."   

adjective
(especially of goods) being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.

Totally new word to me, but the definition makes perfect sense in this context.

2. exegesis. "On the home page I clicked on 'Attraction & Repulsion' and found this soaring, overripe, and ungrammatical flight of cheesy exegesis..."

noun
critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible.

Here, Pollan is talking about an odd diatribe that he found on a cheese maker's Facebook page.  I'm guessing he's referring to the tone of the diatribe,as the excerpt itself was not very Biblical!

3. redound. "And this tally doesn't include the alcohol fermented for fuel and other industrial purposes...or, for that matter, all the chance spontaneous fermentations that S. cerevisiae performs on fallen or split fruit, wet seeds, and tree sap, ferments that redound mainly to the benefit of animals."
verb
1. to have a good or bad effect or result, as to the advantage or disadvantage of a person or thing.
2. to result or accrue, as to a person.
3. to come back or reflect upon a person as to honor or disgrace (usually followed by on or upon).

Totally confused this one with "rebound" at first.  A much more complicated definition than I expected.

What are your new words this week?

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 Dictionary.com.

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."   

noun
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..."

adjective
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.'"
adjective
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?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (35)


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 Dictionary.com.

1. alimentary. "But as Wrangham points out, the alimentary and digestive apparatus of Homo erectus is poorly adapted to a diet of raw meat..."   

adjective
1. concerned with the function of nutrition; nutritive.
2. pertaining to food.
3. providing sustenance or maintenance.

This one sounded familiar, but I definitely did not know the definition beforehand.

2. elides. "...this definition diplomatically elides the whole vexed issue of sauce; it also hints at the sacramental quality of barbecue."

verb
1. to omit (a vowel, consonant, or syllable) from pronunciation.
2. to suppress; omit; ignore; pass over.
3. (in law) to annul or quash.

I originally thought this was a typo of "elude".  The definitions are somewhat in the same ballpark--one is intentional, the other is not.

3. protean. "Fire, it seems, is protean; smoke, too."
adjective
1. readily assuming different forms or characters; extremely variable.
2. changeable in shape or form, as an amoeba.
3. (of an actor/actress) versatile; able to play many kinds of roles.

This is another one I thought I knew, but didn't.  Here, Pollan is talking about the two very different fire-based cooking methods of two chefs.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (34)


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 Dictionary.com.

1. quotidian. "As soon as you start down this path of thinking, the quotidian space of the kitchen appears in a startling new light."   

adjective
1. daily: a quotidian report.
2. usual or customary; everyday: quotidian needs.
3. ordinary; commonplace: paintings of no more than quotidian artistry.
4. (of a fever, ague, etc) characterized by paroxysms that occur daily.
noun
5. something occurring daily.
6. a quotidian fever or ague.

I like this one.  Such a fancy-sounding word for something so...everyday.

2. declension. "They disdain charcoal as a modern-day declension and sauce as 'a cover-up for bad cooking.'"

noun
1. an act or instance of declining.
2. a bending, sloping, or moving downward: land with a gentle declension toward the sea.
3. deterioration; decline.
4. deviation, as from a standard.

I figured the meaning of this one pretty well from its context, but I don't know if I've ever actually seen it in print before.

3. habilines. "Compared to the apelike habilines from which it evolved, Homo erectus had a smaller jaw, smaller teeth, a smaller gut--and a considerably larger brain."
noun
I couldn't find this one at dictionary.com.  An internet search showed that this is a term used for the members of the species Homo habilis, which is thought to be the earliest species (now extinct) in the human genus Homo.  Basically, early humans.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (33)



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 The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. peripatetic. "That this occurred I think is less a tribute to the peripatetic colonial officers, who were ordered to administer both the Gilbert and Ellice Islands without the Colonial Office actually providing them with a boat..."   

adjective
1. walking or traveling about; itinerant.
2. (with capital letter) of or pertaining to Aristotle, who taught philosophy while walking in the Lyceum of ancient Athens.
3. (with capital letter) of or pertaining to the Aristotelian school of philosophy.
noun
4. a person who walks or travels about.
5. (with capital letter) a member of the Aristotelian school.

For some reason I thought this word had to do with being frustrated or angry.  So this is definitely a new one for me.

2. paroxysm. "Wilson, however, perhaps unaware of the aching sincerity of the I-Kiribati, decided to pass on his sample poem and a letter from the president's personal secretary to Punch, a satirical rag moving ever further from its illustrious past, and this was followed by a media paroxysm that lasted for a full one-day news cycle."

noun
1. any sudden, violent outburst; a fit of violent action or emotion: paroxysms of rage.
2. (in pathology) a severe attack or sudden increase in intensity of a disease, usually recurring periodically.

I'd heard this one before but couldn't pin down the exact meaning.

3. pugnacious. "He has grown very fond of the mynah birds nesting on the roof and as a result I have called a truce with the pugnacious creatures."
adjective
inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative.

I guessed this one based on its context--good fit.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (32)



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 The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. louvers. "Instead of glass windows there were plastic horizontal louvers, plus security wire."   

noun
1. any of a series of narrow openings framed at their longer edges with slanting, overlapping fins or slats, adjustable for admitting light and air while shutting out rain.
2. a fin or slat framing such an opening.
3. a ventilating turret or lantern, as on the roof of a medieval building.
4. any of a system of slits formed in the hood of an automobile, the door of a metal locker, etc., used especially for ventilation.
5. a door, window, or the like, having adjustable louvers.

The definition that included the bit about metal lockers illustrated this well for me.  Sounds like a fancy French word!

2. favelas. "In this environment, the odd mixture of Robinson Crusoe-like isolation combined with the favelas of Rio, good eating was hard to find." 

noun
a shantytown in or near a city, especially in Brazil; slum area.

Favelas sounds like a more...fun word to me.  Guess I was wrong about that!

3. obstreperous. "'The I-Kiribati said okeydokey, possibly because Davis immediately banned trade in guns and alcohol, and soon went so far as to banish the more obstreperous missionaries..." 
adjective
1. resisting control or restraint in a difficult manner; unruly.
2. noisy, clamorous, or boisterous: obstreperous children.

This is one of those words I would love to throw into random conversation with my coworkers, and see who understands it.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (31)



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 Indiscretion by Charles Dubow.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. amanuensis. "And what of the third person in this drama? (Naturally I don't include myself.  I am merely the amanuensis.)"   

noun
a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another; secretary.

As in weeks past, I am just SO impressed by Dubow's vocabulary in this novel!!

2. puerile. "One night we go to a Broadway show.  Something puerile and entertaining."  

adjective
1. of or pertaining to a child or to childhood.
2. childishly foolish; immature or trivial: a puerile piece of writing.

I've heard this word spoken in conversation before, but was never totally sure of the meaning.

3. riposte. "'We always have had, darling,' she ripostes." 
noun
1. a quick, sharp return in speech or action; counterstroke: a brilliant riposte to an insult.
2. in fencing: a quick thrust given after parrying a lunge.
verb
3. to make a riposte.
4. to reply or retaliate.

I really like the use of this as a verb here.  Never seen it used that way.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (30)



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 Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com (except where noted).

1. carnelian. "Like every other boathouse in Hasselosund, ours was painted a carnelian red with an even darker red pitched roof and white trim around the eaves, doors, and windows."

noun
a red or reddish variety of chalcedony, used in jewelry.

And apparently "chalcedony" is a variety of quartz.

2. tastevin. "A sommelier with a sterling silver tastevin around his neck stood by the bar, ready to guide guests through the extensive French wine list."  

noun
a small, very shallow silver cup or saucer traditionally used by winemakers and sommeliers when judging the maturity and taste of a wine.

I actually got this definition from Wikipedia, because dictionary.com didn't have it.  A neat word for the wine lovers out there!

3. coffered. "Finally, we passed a dining room far more opulent than Belle Avenue's, with upholstered chairs and coffered ceilings, sparkling chandeliers, and columns carved from marble."
adjective
having coffers.

Not helpful, dictionary.com!  "Coffers" are sunken panels seen in ceilings...had to look that one up.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (29)



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 Found Objects by Peter Gelfan.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. roué. "Harl thinks he and I have a lot in common; he sees me as a fellow roué, a man who lives as he wants to and f*ck 'em if they can't take a joke."

noun
a dissolute and licentious man; rake.

What a fancy word for a distinctly non-fancy meaning!

2. misanthrope. "The chances of getting caught prohibited searching his room or his car, so I opted for the favorite tactic of the armchair misanthrope and hit the Web."  

noun
a hater of humankind.

Harsh!  I think the narrator meant it with a bit of cheek here though.

3. verisimilitude. "I'm suspicious of such searches, not only because memory more and more seems like imagination brushed with a patina of verisimilitude, but also because at the time these moments happen, we can't see their consequences and only much later look back upon them as defining."
noun
1. the appearance or semblance of truth; likelihood; probability: The play lacked verisimilitude.
2. something, as an assertion, having merely the appearance of truth.

Once I saw the definition, I realized I could have figured it out from the "veri" root.  Good word.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (28)



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 Found Objects by Peter Gelfan.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. thymus. "Making friends is a natural imperative for children, like eating and sleeping, but one which disappears, thymus-like, with adulthood."  

noun
a ductless, butterfly-shaped gland lying at the base of the neck, formed mostly of lymphatic tissue and aiding in the production of T cells of the immune system: after puberty, the lymphatic tissue gradually degenerates.

Here's my biology lesson for the week.  Cool use of the word in the text!

2. atelier. "Jonah's guided tour arrived at my studio...'Your atelier,' he said."  

noun
a workshop or studio, especially of an artist, artisan, or designer..

Guess that one was pretty self-explanatory in the context it was used, but it was a word I didn't recognize.

3. semiotics. "I've never been able to decipher the semiotics of Erica's assemblages."
noun
1. the study of signs and symbols as elements of communicative behavior; the analysis of systems of communication, as language, gestures, or clothing.
2. a general theory of signs and symbolism, usually divided in to the branches of pragmatics, semantics, and syntactics.

Erica's character has a tendency to leave random clusters of "found objects" around the house.  Here, the narrator is attempting to figure out what relationship the objects have to one another.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (27)



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 Indiscretion by Charles Dubow.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. funicular. "At the bottom of Montmartre, they take the funicular to the top of the hill."   

adjective
1. of or pertaining to a rope or cord, or its tension.
2. worked by a rope or the like.
noun
3. funicular railway.

I'm picturing this almost like a ski lift of some sort...does that sound about right?

2. simulacrum. "The room is peaceful.  A simulacrum of domesticity."  

noun
1. a slight, unreal, or superficial likeness or semblance.
2. an effigy, image, or representation: a simulacrum of Aphrodite.

I think this is my favorite word for this week.  I love the sound of it.

3. raiment. "We make up our own excuses, justifying the betrayal, clothing it in nobler raiment." 
noun
clothing; apparel; attire.

Straightforward definition, though I've never heard this word before.

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (26)



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 my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. baize. "Then a match was struck, and I saw the caretaker, with the green baize of his apron torn down the middle..."  (from How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

noun
1. a soft, usually green, woolen or cotton fabric resembling felt, used chiefly for the tops of billiard tables.
2. an article of this fabric or of a fabric resembling it.
verb
3. to line or cover with baize.

Now all I can picture is a guy wearing the top of a pool table.

2. burnoose. "Then a burnoose my father used to wear that made him look like Rudolph Valentino."  (from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow)

noun
1. a hooded mantle or cloak, as that worn by Arabs.
2. a similar garment worn by women at various periods in Europe and the United States.

The visual in my head would probably be clearer if I had any idea who Rudolph Valentino is/was...

3. roustabout. "Unlike most of them, he worked during the summer, one year as a roustabout on the Oklahoma oil fields, another on an Alaskan fishing boat."  (from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow)
noun
1. a wharf laborer or deck hand, as on the Mississippi River.
2. an unskilled laborer who lives by odd jobs.
3. a circus laborer who helps in setting up and taking down the tents and in caring for the animals, equipment, and grounds.
4. any unskilled laborer working in an oil field.

Definition #4: ding ding ding.  This word also reminds me of John Locke in Lost (though I know the word I'm thinking of there is "walkabout"...haha).

What are your new words this week?

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 Dictionary.com.

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

noun
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." 

noun
No definition was listed for this word at dictionary.com, 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." 
noun
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?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (24)



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 my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. mysophobia. "Besides, there is some mysophobia in society.  Nobody wants to talk about it."  (from Evil Water by Inger Wolf)  

noun
a dread of dirt or filth.

In this part of the book, the characters were discussing infanticide.  So I think they were referring to the fact that people, in general, do not like discussing unpleasant subjects.

2. importunate. "There was something unpleasantly arrogant about him, and he didn't find it hard to imagine that she had thought him importunate."  (from Evil Water by Inger Wolf)

adjective
1. urgent or persistent in solicitation, sometimes annoyingly so.
2. pertinacious, as solicitations or demands.
3. troublesome; annoying: importunate demands from the children for attention.

I've heard this one before, but couldn't place the exact meaning.

3. crake. "He had a voice like a little crake with him, and so funny it sounded against the basso of my father that I was bound to push my fist in my mouth not to be rude."  (from How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn)
noun
any of several short-billed rails, especially the corn crake.

And apparently a "rail" in this sense is a type of small grassland bird.  Did anyone else immediately think of the book Oryx and Crake when they read this word?

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (23)



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 my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. caesura. "...although she talks openly and easily about being a child and about her life with my grandfather, there is a caesura in the time line of her life, a break of years, a derailment."  (from The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult)  

noun
1. (in poetry) a break, especially a sense pause, usually near the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion by a double vertical line, as in know then thyself presume not God to scan.
2. (in poetry) a division made by the ending of a word within a foot, or sometimes at the end of a foot, especially in certain recognized places near the middle of a verse.
3. any break, pause, or interruption.

Oooh I like this one.  Pretty word and it's cool that it's not being used in the usual way.

2. etiolated. "He looked so small and etiolated."  (from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow)

verb (etiolate)
1. to cause (a plant) to whiten or grow pale by excluding light: to etiolate celery.
2. to cause to become weakened or sickly; drain of color or vigor.
3. (of plants) to whiten or grow pale through lack of light.

I have been really impressed by Dubow's creative use of words.  This highlights that yet again.

3. august. "We looked at the venerable stream not in the vivid flush of a short day that comes and departs for ever, but in the august light of abiding memories."  (from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad)
adjective
1. inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: an august performance of a religious drama.
2. venerable; eminent: an august personage.

And I here thought August was just a month!

What are your new words this week?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday (22)



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 my recent reads.  
All definitions from Dictionary.com.

1. diaspora. "Ending the diaspora requires people with a variety of skills and the motivation to use them." (from God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau)  

noun
1. (with initial capital letter) the scattering of the Jews to countries outside of Palestine after the Babylonian captivity.
2. (with initial capital letter) the body of Jews living in countries outside Israel.
3. (with initial capital letter) such countries collectively: the return of the Jews from the Diaspora.
4. any group migration or flight from a country or region.
5. any group that has been dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily, as Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Certainly an appropriate word for the many Sudanese who fleed the country throughout the war.

2. caliphate. "(Spoiler) was the apex of a holy pyramid that had begun when Osama bin Laden initiated a call for victory in the name of Islam and the Wahhabi caliphate." (from The Intercept by Dick Wolf)

noun
The rank, jurisdiction, or government of a caliph.

And a caliph is (after I looked it up) a spiritual leader of Islam.

3. vertiginous. "It is vertiginous following her."  (from Indiscretion by Charles Dubow)
adjective
1. whirling; spinning; rotary: vertiginous currents of air.
2. affected with vertigodizzy.
3. liable or threatening to cause vertigoa vertiginous climb.
4. apt to change quickly; unstable: a vertiginous economy.

I guess I should have been able to figure this one out from the root (vertigo)...didn't realize it until I saw the definition!

What are your new words this week?
 
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