Wondrous Words Wednesday

Okay, here we are – another Wednesday and more words!  Once again, I am sharing some words from Under the Poppy by Kathe Koja.  This book has a wealth of foreign, obscure and obsolete words – it has been great fun reading them and checking them out.

For more on Under the Poppy, check out their website.  For more new words, check out BermudaOnions Weblog.

1.   Botanomacy – divination by plants. A form of pyromancy in which tree branches and leaves are burnt. Branches of brier and vervain were used, the question was etched into the branch

Botanomancy, it is called, using the leaves of a plant to tell one’s fortune, burning them in a brazier-fire.”

2. Ormolu – brass that looks like gold; used to decorate furniture

“The ormolu scatter of trinkets and objets looks dusty now…”

3. Purblind – dim-sighted: having greatly reduced vision; lacking in discernment or understanding

“…the well-fed, fashionable, purblind audience, is a source of secret hilarity to the master of the mecs…”

4. Lethe – Personification of “oblivion”, daughter of Eris, is one of the rivers which flow through Underworld. The souls of the dead had to drink from it to forget their past lives spent on earth

“…anonymous in a hired hack, eyes closed, letting the sway of the coach serve as lethe, suspended, like Pan in his coffin, between one night’s performance and the next.”

5. Bedizened – To ornament or dress in a showy or gaudy manner

“…arms piled with dress and petticoat and ribbon-trailing hat, graceless yellow and bedizened blue, nothing matching…”

6. Lansquenet – a card game, used for gambling

“He won from me in lansquenet, then spent it double back on brandy.”

7. Piquet – a trick-taking card game for 2 players

“…where the city’s bourgeoisie daughters are traded like cards at piquet,”

8. Chalcedony – a milky or greyish translucent to transparent quartz

“a trove of extravagant objets: paperweight eggs of chalcedony, an embroidered book of saints on a silver stand…”

9. Shagreen – a type of leather or rawhide consisting of rough untanned skin, formerly made from a horse’s back or that of an onager (wild ass), and typically dyed green

“Madame Fernande: massive in blue shagreen, full of complaints about her coachman, the roads, the night…”

10. Kobold – a sprite of German folklore; a mischievous elf, or an evil spirit; a goblin

“Those aren’t angels.  Maybe the are, what is it, kobolds, the bad spirits of the house?”

11. Pierrot – a sad clown, a male character in French pantomime; usually dressed in white with a whitened face

“If I live a thousand years I never shall forget that sight: down the path tugging his little stick horse, collared like a pierrot, so infamously dirty I thought him a servant’s child…”

12. Morganatic – a marriage between one of royal or noble birth and one of lower rank; valid but with the understanding that the rank of the inferior remains unchanged and offspring do not succeed to titles or property of the superior

“Their bond, of course, is morganatic, and very few are in the know, though the news flashed between those few like lightning.”

WOW that’s a lot of words!  This was a great book, and I learned a lot of new vocabulary – I just don’t think I’m going to be working morganatic into a sentence this week.

  6 comments for “Wondrous Words Wednesday

  1. September 22, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I’m so pleased to see UNDER THE POPPY here (and two weeks in a row, yay!). I’m word-drunk, too – the last novel I reveled in for the sheer va-va-voom of its language is Anthony Burgess’ A DEAD MAN IN DEPTFORD: glorious.

  2. September 22, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Holy kamoley! I had a feeling botanomacy had something to do with plants and I’ve seen ormolu before (but couldn’t have defined it) – all the other words are new to me. I’m thinking Under the Poppy might be too hard for me! LOL Thanks for joining in the fun today.

  3. Lisa
    September 22, 2010 at 10:21 am

    You know what – it has been great fun learning all the words! There are so few words that challenge me in most books that I really enjoyed myself on this one.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  4. September 22, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Wow – you must have had an open dictionary next to you while reading this book. From the words listed here, the book sounds rather exotic.

  5. September 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    What fun, and what a compliment to find my louche troupe quartered here! Thanks for featuring Under the Poppy twice in a row.

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