Wondrous Words Wednesday

Welcome to another Wondrous Words Wednesday!  This has become my weekly chance to share with you all the bizarre and obscure words I’ve learned in this week’s reading.  My vocabulary is pretty extensive, so most books don’t present a lot of challenges.  Historical fiction is a great way to learn crazy new words — the last 2 weeks I’ve been posting words from a book in Belgium and this week I am in Nagasaki with the Dutch East Indies Company.  I’m reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and really enjoying it so far. I’m less than 100 pages in, and here’s what I’ve come across so far:

1. Grumous – thick and lumpy; soft and semi-solid, coagulated

“…she detects the malty mixture of grumous blood, but not the stench of rotted fetus.”

2. Geomantic – a method of divination that interprets markings on the ground or the patterns formed by tossed handfuls of soil, rocks, or sand

“Uragami ascertained that, for geomantic reasons discernible to men of his genius, the child’s spirit was reluctant to be born.”

This one is really cool because in last week’s words, I also had a new and unusual form of divination.

3. Puerperal – relating to or occurring at the time of childbirth or shortly following, or to the woman who has just given birth

“Orito’s concern is now puerperal fever.”

4. Farrago – odds and ends: a motley assortment of things

You might remember this from yesterday’s teaser: “a fact omitted from that farrago of lies you are pleased to call your daily register.”

5. Mestizo – a person of mixed Spanish and Indian ethnicity

“Ivo Oost, somebody’s natural son, with a generous glug of mestizo blood.”

6. Punkah – a large fan type, common on the Indian subcontinent, especially made from a leaf or from cloth, typically hung from the ceiling, designed to cool a room, often operated manually by a boy (servant)

“Just so.  A punkah, with a punkah-wallah to tug its cord.”

7. Escritoire – A desk with a top section for books

“Sunlight falls across the escritoire in the small adjacent room.”

8. Piculs – a unit of weight used in some parts of Asia; approximately equal to 133 pounds (the load a grown man can carry)

“…in 1790, we exported eight thousand piculs.”

Looks like this is going to be another language-rich book and I am really looking forward to it.  Most of these are words that I could partially define from their usage, but I always love learning the details of the definitions.

So…learn any new words this week?

  3 comments for “Wondrous Words Wednesday

  1. September 29, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Wow, I think that book is probably over my head! All of those words are new to me, but I thought escritoire was some kind of desk – I wonder if it’s origins are French. Thanks for participating!

  2. September 29, 2010 at 11:51 am

    This book sounds very interesting, based on your new words. The only one I was vaguely familiar with was punkah. I think that’s also what they called the guys who stood and did the fanning.

  3. Lu
    September 30, 2010 at 12:02 am

    Grumous sounds like it could be used to describe oatmeal or porridge!

    My post is at http://lusravesandrants.blogspot.com/2010/09/wondrous-words-wednesday_29.html

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