Mar 18, 2009

wondrous words

My wondrous words of the week come from three different books. These new words I found while reading Kon-Tiki:

Cachalot- Use: "Most often they were small porpoises and toothed whales which gamboled about us in large schools on the surface of the water, but now and then there were big cachalots, too..."
Definition: a sperm whale

Spurious- Use: "On this little sailing trip up to the spurious reef we had learned quite a lot about the effectiveness of the centerboards..."
Definition: not genuine; false, invalid or lacking in authenticity

Anemometer- Use:"Herman was out all the time with his anemometer measuring the squalls of gale force..."
Definition: an instrument that measures the force and speed of wind

Polyps- Use: "But this group of islands is also known as the Low or Dangerous Archipelago, because the whole formation has been built up entirely by coral polyps and consists of treacherous submerged reefs..."
Definition: a small sea creature with a hollow cylindrical body and a ring of tentacles around the mouth

Do you know what's crazy about this word? I keep a dream diary. In one years back, I dreamt I was in a long dark room full of saltwater aquariums, and tiny marine creatures were escaping and floating in the air. I was trying to catch them, yelling about "the polyps!" But when I woke up I thought: what the heck is a polyp? I must have met the word before, as I could draw it from the dream (something like this), but consciously I had no idea what it was. (If I can find my old drawing, I'll share it with you.)

Copra- Use: "Teka had gradually acquired the supreme position because he could speak French and count and write, so that the village was not cheated when the schooner came from Tahiti to fetch copra."
Definition: dried coconut flesh

These words I came across in The Sheep Dog:

Scour: Use- "Some milk is good, but too much will cause scour."
Definition: diarrhea in livestock

Mollycoddle: Use- "We don't want to encourage mollycoddling, but we do want to give the pups a chance."
Definition: to be overprotective and indulgent

Wether: Use- "... going so fleet of foot as would outstrip a four-year-old mountain wether."
Definition: a castrated ram

Tup: Use- "A 'clean gather' must be achieved... otherwise some ewes will be missing when the tups go out, and their year's production will be lost."
Definition: a male sheep

Raddle: Use- "... the tups are caught to be fed, and raddled with bright color on their chests to mark the ewes."
Definition: to mark sheep for identification

Speaned: Use- "At this stage some of the lambs may be speaned, and the process of taking the lambs off the ewes causes some of the hardest work of the dog's year."
Definition: to wean

And these words I read in Chalice:

Demesne: Use- "... nearly the entire citizenry of the demesne seemed to have found an excuse to be somewhere in or near the House..."
Definition: realm, domain, estate or landed property

Suborn: Use- "The rods could not lie nor be suborned."
Definition: to bribe or incite (a person) to commit a wrongful act

Crabbed: Use- "...while she was urgently reading all the crabbed and fusty old records she could lay her hands on..."
Definition: difficult to read or understand

Tisane: Use- "If you're going to offer me something to drink, Mirasol, tisane would be nice, but your mead would be better."
Definition: a drink made of leaves, herbs or flowers

Sennight: Use- "Could you say to yourself, 'Yes, here is a break- a roughness, a troubling- that was not here a sennight ago'?"
Definition: a week

Perforce, Volatile: Use- "Last minute changes were destabilising, which was why battlefield cups, which were perforce rare, were also notoriously volatile."
P definition: by necessity, forced by circumstances
V definition: inconstant, fickle; easily evaporating, fleeting

Orotund: Use- "The Grand Seneschal managed to insert an orotund phrase or two..."
Definition: pompous, bombastic; or full of sound

Stooker: Use- "And once, as Mirasol skirted along a freshly cut field, she saw the late stookers lifting and tossing their sheaves."
Definition: one who sets up sheaves of grain in the field

Eligary: Use- "Before the Master had been sent to Fire by his brother, he would have been trained to use a sword, an eligary and a bow..."
I could not find a definition for this word. I'm assuming it's some kind of weapon. Does anyone know it?

Visit Wondrous Words Wednesdays for more newly discovered words!


avisannschild said...

Wow, you found a lot of words this week! I knew a couple (both "cachalot" and "tisane" are French words, for example, so I was very familiar with them), but many I've never seen before. I love your story about the polyps (although I also find them very creepy!). I was only familiar with the other definition of that word ("a growth projecting from a mucous membrane").

carolsnotebook said...

Wow, what a list.

Margot said...

This book sounds like one you'd have to read with a dictionary within handy reach.

Jeane said...

Avianschild- the growths are very, very creepy. I found lots of yucky pictures when googling for an image of the sea critter.

Carolsnotebook- this is the longest vocab list I've come up with in a long time!

Margot- Yes; I tried to gather most of the meanings from context, but when I finally got to the dictionary found that some of my guesses had been wrong!

bermudaonion said...

Wow, you found a lot of words! I love the polyps story - I think it will help me remember that word. Thanks for playing along.

Kaye said...

What I'd like to see is someone come up with a sentence using 6 of those words. wow! That would be something. A lot of the words would be difficult to work into everyday conversations. I never heard of eligary either.

Trish said...

Funny how our brain works in strange and mysterious ways. So many sheep terms I didn't know! My mother-in-law has border collies and sheep on her ranch (even hosted her first trial in January!), but the only term I knew before was ewe. Oh, and that sheep bleat, not bah. :)

Smilingsal said...

I had a doctor remove a polyp. I sure hope that it didn't have a mouth! Here's mine:

avisannschild said...

Yuck on the pictures of growths and double yuck on the thought of growths with mouths. Ew! (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

Jeane said...

Bermudaonion- Thanks. I don't think I'll ever forget it, either- even though using it in converstaion is highly unlikely.

Kaye- a sentence with even a few of these words in it would be a mouthful! So far, no one knows eligary....

Trish- maybe some of the sheep terms were particular to Great Britian? And I always though the lambs bleat, but the adults baa! Another new thing I learned from the photos- sheep naturally have long tails. They look so odd because I'm used to seeing them docked.

Smilingsal- I hope it was painless? I don't think the 'growth' polyps have mouths. Only the sea-animal ones.

Avianschild- I'm trying to forget I saw those pictures.

Brad K. said...

On "crabbed" -- Crabbed describes cursive writing that is cramped, that doesn't have the expected white space and elegance that makes handwriting legible (easy to read correctly). Crabs tend to move sideways; crabbed writing is over-slanted, and over-compact, to the point that while the letters are technically correct, they are difficult to discern.

According to my Chambers dictionary, "crabbed: adj. ill-natured, perverse, or irascible; (of handwriting) cramped or difficult to decipher.

As for eligary, it wasn't listed in my Chambers dictionary, nor my Random House Dictionary of the English language (c 1967, 2059 pages, the Unabridged Edition). But between sword and archery, there are other weapons, from pole arms to slings, lasso, whips, and knives, to name a few. Perhaps even the thrown stone might be intended. The only alternative I found from was a baby's birth announcement for "Eli Gary". But I doubt eligary referred to tossing newborns as a duelling weapon. I hope not, anyway. Even though I do relish the gruesome fascination of Shel Silverstein's "Dreadful" reading.

Jeane said...

well, thanks for the enlightenment Brad. I wasn't expecting a definition to pop up four years later!