Wondrous Words Wednesday

By Lisa. Filed in Wondrous Words  |  
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Happy Wednesday — it’s time for some new words! You know how this works – share a few words from your current book that you had to look up, then head over to Bermuda Onion’s Weblog to learn some new ones.

This week, my words are from Something Red by Douglas Nicholas. Doesn’t it always seem that medieval books give you a whole host of new words — words that you probably won’t get a chance to use in casual conversation. Here’s my crop from Something Red so far:

1. Pintle: A pin or a bolt on which another part pivots.

“Hob led the ox inside, and closed the stall door on its creaking wooden pintles.”

2. Cotehardie:  14th to 16th-century unisex garment tailored to fit the torso and arms, usually with a row of buttons down the front as well as down each fitted sleeve from the elbow to the wrist.

“She had donned a plain white woolen cotehardie and had pushed the snug sleeves up her arms a little way to keep them free of her food.”

3. Escaffignons: a small light shoe made from rich material.

“Hob had a glimpse of silken escaffignons, Heaven blue, on tiny feet, peeping from beneath her robe.”

4. Dorter: a dormitory or residence hall.

“Dimly, he remembered stumbling up with Jack Brown to the men’s dorter.”

5. Pelice: a fur-lined garment

“The door opened and Doctor Vytautas, swathed in a generous linen night-robe and a sable-lined pelice, came out onto the little black platform.”

I was not able to find a good definition for pelice. The closest I could find in a couple of medieval clothing references, was pelican, a fur-lined garment worn between the chemise and the cote. Seemed pretty close to me.

6. Pawl: A hinged or pivoted device adapted to fit into a notch of a ratchet wheel to impart forward motion or prevent backward motion.

“Hob heard the gates close behind them, and a moment later the clack clack of the pawls: just ahead, the portcullis slid sideways into the rock.”

So, medieval clothes and architecture. I don’t think I’ll be able to slip them into cocktail party conversation, but they are still fun to know.


  1. Comment by bermudaonion(Kathy):

    Those are all new to me. I’m not sure I’ll have much use for most of them, but they are interesting. I wish Vance was still in college so I could call his dorm a dorter!

  2. Comment by sim@chapter1-take1:

    Oh how I wish I had a pair of ‘escaffignons’! So that’s what those delicious little shoes are called!

  3. Comment by LadyInRead (vidyatiru):

    The only one I had heard before and actually knew the meaning too was pelice from this list..
    I agree that these books too give a whole list of words we do not use normally, but it is fun:)

  4. Comment by Margot:

    It looks like your medieval book gave you a gold mine of new words. There is one I can use today, however. Its pintle. My husband made a pintle out of wood to close the door on our chicken coop. It broke the other day and I just paused and told him he was going to have to make a new pintle. The look on his face was great – total confusion. Thanks

  5. Comment by Suko:

    Escaffignons is a wonderful word! I enjoyed reading about your new word today. :)

  6. Comment by Louise:

    What a great group of words, thanks for sharing them with us. Pelice has a lovely sound to it, but escaffignons is fabulous.

  7. Comment by Lisa:

    Escaffignons reminds me escargot, and those shoes remind me of pretty little shells for your feet!

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