Apr 15, 2009

wondrous words

Again, my new words come from two books. The first few are from Compost This Book! Then we get into Quicksilver, a heavy tome rich with descriptive unknowns. This is just the beginning of what I'm going to be looking up in the next week or so (it's a 900-page book)!

From Compost This Book!:

Geriatric- "There'd be a whole ecosystem in miniature lurking in that geriatric vegetable."
Definition: relating to the aging process

Sybaritic-"When Marty's heap is really cooking, the sybaritic creature is nearly always stretched out on top, luxuriating in the warmth."
Definition: devoted to or marked by pleasure and luxury

Chelating- "Like the sugar coating on a pill, the chelating humus makes the minerals palatable...."
Definition: to combine (a metal ion) with a chemical compound to form a ring

From Quicksilver:

Doppelganger- "Now he knows why: his doppelganger is a lad, moving about like a drop of quicksilver that cannot be trapped under the thumb."
Definition: a ghostly double of a living person that haunts its living counterpart

Erudition- "We have, as I said, found the place where your erudition gives way to ignorance."
Definition: profound scholarly knowledge

Mephitic- "They break out into the mephitic bog on its western flank."
Definition: poisonous or foul-smelling

Azimuth- "The schoolmaster adjusted his azimuth as the target moved, like a telescope tracking a comet, but none of his blows seemed to have actually been felt by the fair boy yet..." (this usage does not make sense to me, with the def.s I could find)
Definition: the arc of the sky between the zenith and the horizon or the horizontal angle of a bearing measured clockwise from the north (in surveying)

Ontogeny- ""There was a dollhouse and a clan of rag dolls in diverse phases of ontogeny."
Definition: the origin and development of an individual organism from embryo to adult

Empiricist- "Oh, he will be a great empiricist."
Definition: one who disregards scientific theory and relies solely on practical experience

Visit Wondrous Words Wednesdays at Bermudaonion's Weblog.


  1. Wow! There is no way I can remember all of those. I think I can work mephitic into a conversation though. Thanks for playing along today.

  2. I looked up "azimuth" in the OED, and I can't make it make sense with the sentence you have either! (It's bothering me more than you might expect :P) What's going on in the sentence?

  3. Anonymous4/15/2009

    That's a great list of words. I guess there is a downfall to actually looking up the definitions, sometimes they just don't seem to make sense.

  4. Bermudaonion- Mephitic is a nice one, isn't it?

    Jenny- The schoolmaster was breaking up a fight and whipping a boy with his cane. I thought "azimuth" would be a word for the cane, but now I suspect it was supposed to describe how it traveled in an arc through the air?? I can't think of any other application that fits. Maybe a misapplied metaphor? or an archaic meaning I can't find.

    Carolsnotebook- This is one of the first times a dictionary has failed me!

  5. Erudite was one of my GRE words that has stuck with me--I can surprisingly use it a lot. Some of those words I can't even pronounce!! :P

  6. Azimuth is trajectory or direction. I know, because it was a ninth grade vocabulary word!

  7. Wow. Never in my life have I run across "azimuth."

    All of these are great.

  8. Trish- I don't think I've ever used "erudite" in a conversation.

    Chartroose- Thank you! I figured it was something like that, but all the dictionary definition I found were long and confusing; I couldn't picture it clearly.

    Janet- Me either. A lot of words I recognized but can't quite remember their meaning, this one was a complete stranger to me.


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