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

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

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.
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..."

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."
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?


  1. I have to admit that "the hoary vassal in the sweater" made me laugh. It does seem odd to see vassal used in modern terms. I should have known ephemera - I'm pretty sure I've looked it up before - but I couldn't define it.

    1. Yes, Hanagarne definitely has a humorous way with words!

  2. I love the word Vassal, it is such a pleasant word to say. Three wonderful new words for me this Wednesday, I've not discovered any new ones in a while.

  3. Hi Kelly,

    I knew of 'ephemera' (I don't keep any of that stuff I'm afraid) and 'disquisition', but I couldn't put my hand on my heart and say that I could have described a 'vassal', with any great level of authority or conviction (ie. I would have been guessing!)

    I love the phrase 'hoary vassal' and the cover of the book is amazing, as is the Salt Lake library ... I could spend all day (week!) in there.

    Great post, thanks.


    1. I agree, that library looks stunning! I'd love to visit SLC again just to go there.

  4. I'm the opposite of Yvonne- I only knew vassal. I'm guessing the ephemera isn't related to ephemeral? Thanks for educating me, again!

    1. Hmmm well ephemeral means something that lasts for a short time...ephemera are items that are only meant to be important for a short I think they are a bit related!

  5. Vassal was the only one I'm familiar with today.

  6. I love the word ephemera! It's kind of pretty, isn't it? So is vassal, because it sounds like tassel :P

    1. I agree, ephemera sounds beautiful and nostalgic. :)

  7. as always you discovered new and unfamiliar to me words. Love it!


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