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 An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris by Stephanie la Cava. My Teaser yesterday was about sailing miniature ships in the bidet (everyone knows what a bidet is, right?). These are some of the words I wasn’t so familiar with — the nice thing is that most of them are well-defined in the text:

1. Aposematic – Coloration or markings that serve to repel or warn predators

Poison arrow tree frogs’ colorful skins are the furthest adaptation from camouflage, rather aposematic markings signaling to predators that the paper clip-sized creatures can kill.

2. Tapirage – a method of changing color

“Legend says that certain indigenous tribes would rub a variety of the poison on the skins of young parrots to make their feathers fill out in different colors, a process called tapirage.”

3. Busk – A stay or stiffening strip for a corset

“Perhaps the most coveted work was a busk, a gift for a love waiting patiently at home, made of a slab of bone that would be used as a stay in corsets.

4. Entheogens – A psychoactive substance used for the purpose of inducing a mystical or spiritual experience.

“In later years Wasson, who detested the word hallucinogens, preferred to use the word entheogens instead, which means ‘god within’.”

5. Sumptuary Laws – Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, furniture, etc. Traditionally, they were laws that regulated and reinforced social hierarchies and morals through restrictions on clothing, food, and luxury expenditures.

“The gems were rare in Egyptian jewelry, and is said that Julius Caesar tried to create sumptuary laws that restricted the wearing of pearls to only Rome.”

And here’s a word I came across online that I love! And, in fact, it’s an excellent description of my reading habits:

6. Librocubicularist – A person who reads in bed


  1. Comment by bermudaonion(Kathy):

    What great words! I just discovered I’m a librocubicularist, now I have to figure out how to pronounce it.

  2. Comment by Lisa:

    I’m going with lib-bro-cubic-you-larist. Sounds okay to me!

  3. Comment by Julia Tomiak:

    I’m with Kathy- I’ll tell my husband that he is a librocubicularist tonight and see how he responds to that! And, can I just ask, does anyone else think that a busk would make a good “gift for a love waiting patiently at home?” Thank goodness I live in the 21st century!!

  4. Comment by Caitlin / The Siren's Tale:

    Great words! I love “busk”. It’s so simply, but causes so much discomfort!

  5. Comment by Margot:

    Your book sure has lots of new words. The only one I know was sumptuary. I’ll have to remember your post when I go to read this one.

  6. Comment by Lisa:

    Margot, the nice thing is that they are really well-defined in the text. Lots of explanation, so I didn’t feel like I didn’t know what I was reading.

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