Words from my reading

A few fun words that were new to me this week:

Spode, n A fine porcelain or chinaware, after Josiah Spode (1754-1827), English potter
page 3, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“I hoisted the lid off the Spode vegetable dish and, from the depths of its hand-painted butterflies and raspberries, spooned out a generous helping of peas.”

semaphores, pl n Apparatus for signaling, as the arrangement of lights, flags, and mechanical arms on railroads; a system of signaling by the use of two flags, one held in each hand: the letters of the alphabet are represented by the various positions of the arms
page 5, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“I looked up slowly from my work so that the round lenses of my spectacles would flash blank white semaphores of light at her.”

budgerigar-parakeetbudgerigar, n Native name for an Australian parakeet having a greenish-yellow body, marked with bright blue on the cheeks and tail feathers, and wings striped with brown
page 5, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“Quite suddenly after dinner, with Father safely retired to his study to gloat over his collection of paper heads, Ophelia had too quietly put down the silver butter knife in which, like a budgerigar, she had been regarding her own reflection for the last quarter of an hour.”
[Ohh, I’ve heard this type of bird called a budgie before, but I didn’t put it together.]

retort, n A container, generally of glass and with a long tube, in which substances are distilled, as in a laboratory; a vessel in which ore is heated to extract a metal, coal is heated to produce gas, etc.
page 11, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“Stoppering the retort, I connected it on one side to a flask in which water was already boiling, and on the other side to a coiled glass condensing tube whose open end hung suspended over an empty beaker.”
[There’s the normal definition, too, of course, that retort means reply or answer, but that wasn’t what I was going for, nor how it was used in the book.]

philatelic, adj Of or related to the study of postage stamps, postmarks, stamped envelopes, etc.
page 21, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“To reassure myself, I put an ear to his study door and listened for a few minutes to the flipping of philatelic pages and an occasional clearing of the paternal throat.”

secateurs, pl n Shears used for pruning [chiefly British]
page 41, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“He reached out and with a sudden snip of his secateurs, pruned a less-than-perfect bloom.”

novenas, pl n The recitation of prayers and the practicing of devotions on nine days, usually to seek some special favor
page 62, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“The villagers still held novenas to pray she wouldn’t come out of retirement.”

slattern, n A woman who is careless and sloppy in her habits, appearance, work, etc.; a sexually promiscuous woman, slut
page 87, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“‘She fancies I’m some kind of slattern, and I’m not.'”

Have you seen my Words from my reading archive page? (More great words!)

Review of book cited here:
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

What new words have you found lately?

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11 responses to “Words from my reading

  1. This is very helpful – I hope to read this book soon. 🙂

  2. Me too. After reading your review the other day, I’m eager for this book to get to the top of the list.

  3. I knew Spode, because I love china almost as much as I love books!

  4. LOL! Slattern and slatternly have always been two of my fave words!

  5. Ok, I knew a few of these but how was I the only one who didn’t know what spode meant?

  6. Yay–I knew a word! I knew Spode because my in-laws love collecting china.

  7. When I saw semaphore, I couldn’t help but think of the Monty Python episode where they acted Wuthering Heights in semaphore.

  8. Pingback: Words from my reading « Word Lily

  9. Oops – I read this post but still had to look up the semaphore when I encountered it last week. (love your WORD page, btw = terrific!)

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