Wondrous Words Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!  I’ve got a few more words this week from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.  I finished that one this week and it’s fabulous.  I hope to have the review posted tomorrow.  I’ve also got a word or two from my new book, Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo.  It’s a good change of pace, a police thriller, and I am really enjoying it.

You know how this works, right?  Pick out the words in your current read that are new to you.  Give us a definition, use them in a sentence (the one from the book) and it makes us all smarter!  Some books are great for new words – like historical fiction, which is often full of obscure, foreign or obsolete words that are really fun to learn.  In others, I don’t usually run across words I don’t know.  Lots of reading and crossword puzzles have given me a good vocabulary, so I am always excited to find a new word.

1. Holystone – a soft sandstone used for scrubbing the decks of a ship

“Farther along, Lieutenant Abel Wren has men scrubbing the deck with hot vinegar and holystones.”

2. Gimbal – A device for suspending something, such as a ship’s compass, so that it will remain level when its support is tipped

“…the ship sways, shudders, and the bulkhead lamps circle in their gimbals…”

3. Tampion – plug for the muzzle of a gun to keep out dust and moisture

“On both bows, Captain, aye: tampions are out, charge in, but no shot.”

I had to laugh when I saw the definition, because – of course – it made me think of tampon and wonder if they came from a similar source.

4. Podagra – Gout, or severe pain in the big toe caused by gout

5. Ingravescent

Podagra is an ingravescent cross for sufferers to bear, Captain.”

I could not find a definition for ingravescent other than the one given a few sentences later: “it grows worse before it grows better.”

Then, there was one very interesting paragraph:

“The half-dozen bed-bound inmates stiffen to guilty attention, and the loblolly, a pock-scarred Londoner called Rafferty, stands, putting to one side the tray of tenaculums, ball scoops and bone rasps he is oiling.”

The only definition I found for loblolly was “thick gruel”, and obviously Rafferty is not a breakfast food.  According to what I could find online, a tenaculum is “an instrument used to grasp the cervix and keep the uterus in place during gynecological procedures”, and it seems unlikely they would have any of those on an English frigate in 1800!

Then, from Pray for Silence, a particularly ugly word:

6. Clapeing – hate crimes and violence directed at the Amish

“They refer to the Amish as ‘clay apes.’  It’s a derogatory term that somehow relates to farming.  The incidents against them are known as clape-ing.”

What new words did YOU learn this week?  Check out more new words over at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

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