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

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

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."

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."
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?


  1. When I saw alimentary alone, I had no idea what it meant but seeing it used along with digestive gave me an idea. Great words today!

    1. Yes, I had no idea what I meant (I thought) but once I saw it in context, I realized I had read it before.

  2. I hadn't heard of elides. An interesting word...

    As I have studied Biology, I know Alimentary....

    I learnt protean fairly recently!!

  3. Thanks for sharing, all new to me.

  4. I've heard of protean but wasn't sure of the meaning, the others are completely new to me.

  5. autodidact! Plus like every other word from The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Seriously, that book is FILLED with great vocabulary!

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

  6. I've also studied biology and knew alimentary. (It always makes me happy when I recognize something!) The other two are completely new, and can I say that "elides" doesn't look like a verb? But, clearly, it is. Thanks!

    1. Agreed, I did not know what to make of that word when I first saw it!

  7. hahaha I first read protean as "protein" and I thought, "Well-read redhead? really?" ;) These are great, you always find interesting words!

    1. LOL, too funny...especially in a food-related book!

Imagination Designs