Aug 20, 2009

wondrous words

I'm doing my wondrous words a day late. They all came from West with the Night, a book full of unfamiliar words, many (not listed here) which I could not find meanings for and only guessed at.

Muram- "I peer ahead along the narrow muram runway."
Definition: a type of heavy, red clay soil used to pave roads

Posho- "... the cedar forest that bounded our posho mill and paddocks."
Definition: a staple food in Africa made from ground maize and water

Syce- "... she could be handled even by the syces."
Definition: a groom or stableman (word origins in India)

Manyatta- "I could only wonder if he had been hurt and taken into a manyatta by some of the Masai Murani..."
Definition: a Masai community made up of several huts enclosed by a fence

Magneto- "Woody and I were preparing to take off for Nairobi and a doctor- and a new magneto, if one could be had."
Definition: a device that produces alternating current for distribution to the spark plugs, used in the ignition systems of some internal-combustion engines

Kiboko- "... Bwana Elkington, who is saying a great many words I do not know and is carrying a long kiboko which he holds in his hand and is meant for beating the large lion."
Definition: a heavy leather whip

Profligate- "He was profligate with money- his own and what he could borrow; but he spent nothing on himself and was scrupulously honest."
Definition: recklessly wasteful

Reimpie- "It began with the stirring of Buller alseep, as always, at the foot of my reimpie bed in the mud and daub hut we shared together..."
Definition: having a seat (or in this case a platform) of woven rawhide thongs

Donga- "The lion that stood in the donga was not intimidated by Arab Maina's stare."
Definition: a dry gully

Lucerne- "She nibbles at a single leaf of lucerne, too small to be tasted, then shambles on sluggish feet across the box."
Definition: alfalfa (in Britian and Australia)

Enure- "It is an ancient lamp.... It is crumpled and slatternly, enured to failure, as if no man with hope in his fingers had ever trimmed its wick."
Definition: inure; to habituate oneself to something unpleasant

Nonage- "... he will walk behind me now, when once, in the simplicity of our nonage, we walked together."
Definition: a period of immaturity

Strabismus- "Please report to the examiners within three months and, if you have not contracted strabismus, or a melancholy point of view in regard to this Board, we will be happy to renew your permit."
Definition: a condition where the eyes are not aligned with each other

Sansevieria- "Land on sansevieria and your plane is skewered like a duck pinned for taxidermy- land in it and walk away."
Definition: a type of shrubby, succulent perennial plant native to the Old World

Nostrum- ".... each beckoning with such enthusiasm that I concluded the gin, rather than the quinine, was the nostrum immediately required."
Definition: "patented" medicine with secret ingredients (usually a quack remedy)

Snickersnee- "The only difference is that the steer has neither the ability nor the chance to outwit the gentleman who wields the slaughterhouse snickersnee..."
Definition: a large knife (slang, of Dutch origin)

Virescent- "I think we were simply depressed beyond words with the business of hanging for so long a time under such a flat blue sky and above such a flat virescent swamp."
Definition: becoming green

Lachrymose- "They are silent, limp or lachrymose, and in their midst sits Blix the Unsinkable- a monument of miserable sobriety, bleak as a lonely rock jutting from a lonely sea."
Definition: being tearful, or causing one to weep

hosts this meme


  1. Isn't Magneto one of the X-Men? I always thought it was a made up name. I'm curious about that book now because it looks like it's set in Africa. Thanks for participating!

  2. Great words!! and happy blogiversary!

  3. Bermudaonion- I think it is. And yes, the book mostly takes place in Africa.

    Care- thanks!

  4. Oooo I do this meme for myself all the time, but never thought of posting it! Great idea!


  5. Anonymous8/21/2009

    Wow, that's quite a list of words.


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