Wondrous Words Wednesday

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 come from a book I just finished, A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd. This is one of the Bess Crawford mysteries — Bess is a nurse serving in World War I and a sort of accidental investigator. Great, great stories!

1. Nursing sister — A nursing sister, usually just referred to as a sister, is a senior female nurse, usually in charge of a ward or other unit.

“I’m a nursing sister, I’ve just returned from France.”

I originally thought that a nursing sister was a nun! It wasn’t until I read further and Bess’ life didn’t seem to be that of what I thought of as a sister that I checked the definition of the word.

2. Gorse – A yellow-flowered shrub (genus Ulex) of the pea family, the leaves of which are modified to form spines.

“But this was dramatically different, low, black, twisted branches of stunted heather and gorse, filling the horizon now as far as the eye could see.”

3. Oriel – A projection from the wall of a building, typically supported from the ground, or a window in such a structure.

“High above the door, an oriel window broke the plainness of the facade, the panes dark and lifeless under the dull sky.”

4. Suttee – The former Hindu practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband’s funeral pyre.

“The British had done their best to outlaw suttee, but it hadn’t been completely abolished.”

5. Maharani – A maharaja’s wife or widow.

“For dinner I wore the pale green gown that my father particularly liked, with the rope of pearls that had been given to me when I was twelve by the maharani who was a friend of my mother’s.”

6. Crocodile – a file of people, especially schoolchildren, out for a walk.

“I hung about for an hour or more, and then the nuns appeared with a crocodile of children.”

I love it when I find a new definition for a common word! This is chiefly British, which explains why I hadn’t come across it before.

7. Subaltern – An officer in the British army below the rank of captain.

“The subaltern who had missed the corpse got a severe dressing down.”

And there you have it — a good list of words, I think. What new words did YOU learn this week?

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