10 words

Rambler5319 is taking over for a bit of Wondrous Words Wednesday… Enjoy…


I’m a bit like the person who drives along a road and sees a sign to somewhere (or something) off to the left or to the right and, if I have time, I just have to go and investigate. If I come across a building with something interesting on the outside (a date stone or design feature) I just want to know more about it: When was it built? Why was it built? Who built it? And so on.

This week I thought I’d take a brief delve into my “word” book. I’ve mentioned before that when I’m reading and I come across a word I don’t know I write it down in a notebook and then go and look it up (31.10.12).

I passed the 800 mark recently and so I’m going to have a look at 10 of the more recent words that have gone into the book. See what you make of them; ask yourself whether you think you’re ever likely to use them. The meanings given below come from my Chambers Dictionary and may not always tally exactly with the way the writer uses them.

Here goes:

1. SCROFULOUS – (This is from p.242 in a book called Map Addict by Mike Parker.)

It means: Tuberculosis of the lymph nodes in the neck (also called King’s Evil).

And here’s how it’s used:

“In scrofulous slums around Cheapside, for centuries the capital’s main commercial thoroughfare, one of the Maiden Lanes sat bang opposite Lad Lane: left for a girl, right for a boy”.

2. SAPONIFYING – (This is from p.722 in a book called The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel.)

It means: Turning into or forming soap.

And here’s how it’s used:

“She found a flattish rock, carried it closer to the pool in the small river and then with another round stone, she pounded the foamy saponifying ingredients from the soaproots on it, mixed with a little water.”

3. MANTICORA – (This is from p.210 a book called Map Addict by Mike Parker.)

It means: A fabulous animal – it has the body of lion, tail of a scorpion, porcupine quills and human head.

And here’s how it’s used:

“Nearby are a manticora with the body of a lion, face of a man, and tail of a scorpion, a Minotaur, dragons, giants & pygmies.”

Good that the book explains the term. However it doesn’t mention the porcupine quills which the dictionary does so not sure which is the definitive. Anyone out there an expert on manticoras? (Is that actually the correct plural form? Does it follow the data/data or gala/galas sing/plural forms?)

4. NUTATION – (This is from p.150 in a book called Atlantis Found by Clive Cussler.)

It has a few meanings: 1. A nodding 2. A fluctuation in the precessional movement of the Earth’s pole about the pole of the ecliptic 3. The sweeping out of a curve by the tip of a growing axis or 4. The periodic variation of the inclination of the axis of a spinning top to the vertical.

And here’s how it’s used:

“Yes, the scientific terms are precession and nutation, Max lectured.” The author then goes on to explain the term himself but it’s one I’d not come across before. The book is another Dirk Pitt novel and a great story.

5. COSTIVE – (This is from p.45 in a book called The Elizabethans by A.N. Wilson.)

It means: Constipated, stingy

And here’s how it’s used:

Costive, devious, patient, the master of detail, all but humourless, and dependably sensible, William Cecil was the lynchpin of Elizabeth’s administration.”

6. Smörgåsbord – (This is from the cover notes for the 2012 CD by Van Morrison Born To Sing: No Plan B on Exile Records.) I’ve left this one lower case as it’s easier to see the Swedish accents on the letters that way.

It means: A Swedish style table assortment of hors d’oeuvres and many other dishes to which you can help yourself

And here’s how it’s used:

Quoted in Alan Light’s review of the CD quoting Van Morrison himself: “I don’t think in terms of labels,” he says. “It’s a mix of all of it, a smörgåsbord of all music and all my influences, and you hope that it comes out as something new.”

7.PANEMONE – (This is from p255 in a book called Bring Me Sunshine by Charlie Connelly)

It means: A windmill device where the blades move in the same direction as the wind as opposed to 90 degrees on an ordinary windmill. (I suppose you could liken it to the way a waterwheel is turned by a river or stream where the stream is the wind and the sails on the mill stick out rather than being flat on the arms which hold them.)

And here’s how it’s used:

“They are called panemone windmills and were originally used for pumping water and eventually to help grind corn.”

8.LEITMOTIV (or LEITMOTIF) – (This is from p12 in a book called And Now On Radio 4 by Simon Elmes)

It means: 1. (In opera, etc) a musical theme associated with a person or a thought, recurring when the person appears on the stage or the thought becomes prominent in the action. Or 2. A recurring theme in literature

And here’s how it’s used:

“It’s a paradox that will run like a leitmotivthroughout this book, but there’s another refrain which it’s also worth singing out loud right from the start:……”

9.RHABDOMANCY – (This is from p45 in a book called God Delivers by Derek Thomas)

It means: Throwing sticks in the air to see how they fall; divination by rod, wand or staff.

And here’s how it’s used:

“Three types are mentioned in Ezekial (Ch) 21:rhabdomancy throwing sticks or bones in the air to see which way they fell; hepatoscopy: examining the markings on the liver of a sacrifice and idolatry: consulting images.” It’s good the author explains the term which is helpful but one I’d never come across before.

10. SCRIMSHAW – (This is from p184 in a book called The Wreckers by Bella Bathurst)

It means: A form of engraving

And here’s how it’s used:

“Teeth could be decorated with scrimshaw (a form of engraving considered no more than an old whaler’s novelty until recently, but now beginning to command high prices among collectors).” In this particular case the writer actually explains what the word means in the text and provides more info than the dictionary. Well done Bella!

So there you go, just 10 of the 800+ words in my book.

Why not let me know if you already knew any of these or if you manage to use any of them over the next week or so?

14 responses to this post.

  1. I knew 6, 8 and 10 and now must go use them!


  2. Posted by rambler5319 on December 20, 2012 at 11:29

    Did you come across 6 just as general knowledge (is it more in use in US than here in UK?) or was it through reading? If it was a book do you remember which one?


  3. Posted by rambler5319 on December 20, 2012 at 20:03

    Do u remember where you came across Smorgasbord? Was it general knowledge or from a book?


  4. I was surprised to see I knew 5 of them! this was fun…do it again


  5. Well, I knew 2 of them and had heard of 4 or 5. Not so good coming from a person with and English Masters. Hmm?


  6. […] not really a second part; it’s more just another 10. These are all different to the first lot (19.12.12) but they’re still all from my words book which I write in when I don’t know what a word means. […]


  7. […] it’s roughly 3 months since I did my last 10 words post (and about 3 months before that the first one) so here goes with a third lot. But just before I get into the new words I thought it might be good […]


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