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, I’m reading The Meaning of Night: A Confession, set in 1850s England. Books like this always leave me reaching for my dictionary (or dictionary.com), because of the archaic, strange and fanciful words I find. Here are a few I marked to share:

1. Costers – people who sells fruits, vegetables, etc., from a barrow

2. Navvies – laborers employed in construction or excavation

3. Lightermen – workers who transferred goods between ships and quays using flat-bottomed boats called lighers

“Below our box, the coarse deal benches were packed to overflowing: costers, navvies, lightermen, hackney-coach drivers, coal-heavers, and every sort of disreputable female.”

4. Introducing House – a high-end brothel

“The establishment of which Bella was the leading light was several cuts above the usual introducing house, so much so that it was known to the cognoscenti simply as “The Academy”

5. Subfusc – Dull and gloomy; or a dark, somber color

“I now recalled a throng of clerical gentlemen in subfusc gathered outside the grand Corinthian portico of the Hall…”

6. Prebendal – coming from or paid for through a prebend, a stipend allotted from the revenues of a cathedral to a clergyman

“Light and spacious, the Rectory — a former prebendal manor-house — was set amidst well-tended gardens…”

Okay, I think I’ll save a few for next week. That only takes us through page 113!

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