Words from my reading

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

ear trumpet, n A trumpet-shaped tube formerly used as a hearing aid by the partially deaf
page 107, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“Once when she was playing a Schumann sonata with an excessively dreamy look on her face, I had remarked loudly to Daffy that I simply adored bandstand music, and Feely flew into a passion — a passion that wasn’t helped by my stalking out of the room and returning a few minutes later with a Bakelite ear-trumpet I had found in a closet, a tin cup, and a hand-lettered sign tied round my neck with a string: ‘Deafened in tragic piano accident.'”
I figured this one out from the context, but still, I don’t recall having heard or read this word before.

curare, n A black, resinous substance prepared from the juices of certain South American plants and used by some Indians for poisoning arrows: it causes motor paralysis when introduced into the bloodstream and is used in medicine for spasms or to relax muscles, as during surgery; any of certain plants from which curare is prepared
page 123, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“Then there was curare.”

sobriquet, n A nickname; an assumed name
page 138, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“‘A schoolboy sobriquet, and yet even the coroner called him that.'”

canopic jars, pl n Urns used in ancient Egypt to hold and preserve the internal organs of the mummified dead
page 147, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“The strong scent of Father’s cologne and shaving lotions suggested open sarcophagi and canopic jars that had once been packed with ancient spices.”

ormolu, n An imitation gold made of an alloy of copper and tin, used in making ornaments, moldings, cheap jewelry, etc.; imitation gold leaf
page 147, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“On the chimneypiece, an ormolu monstrosity, its brass pendulum, like the curved blade in ‘The Pit and the Pendulum,’ tock-tocking away the time and flashing dully at the end of each swing in the subdued lighting of the room.”

martinet, n (after Gen. Jean Martinet, 17th century French drillmaster) A very strict military disciplinarian; any very strict disciplinarian or stickler for rigid regulations
page 152, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“Father must have been too distraught to notice, I supposed, since generally, when it came to the time of day, he was a martinet.”

firths, pl n Narrow inlets or arms of the sea, estuaries
page 161, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“Grandfather from Aberdeen, left in disgust after Culloden — must have had second thoughts, though, when he realized he’d done no more than trade the firths for the fjords.”

aspidistraaspidistra, n Any of a genus of plants of the lily family, with dark, inconspicuous flowers and stiff, glossy, evergreen leaves: cultivated as a house plant
page 167, Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
“It was impressively neat, a room that needed only a potted aspidistra and a piano.”

More great words on my Words from my reading page.

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

What new words have you found lately?


10 responses to “Words from my reading

  1. I only knew the third and fourth words. Wondrful words you got here!

    Wednesday: Wondrous Words/A-Z wednesday

  2. I knew canopic jar from playing Kingdom of Loathing, an online game, and aspidistra because our neighbors in Auburn owned a nursery and talked plants all the time! Great words!

  3. So, if we didn’t have the word lily, would your blog name be Word Aspidistra? I like all the references to the Sweetness book. I can see I’ll have to have my dictionary handy when I read it.

    • Ha! No. 🙂 There are several reasons I picked Lily as part of my blog name; I’m not sure Aspidistra would be a suitable substitute. It’s long, it doesn’t have an immediate visual for a broad swath of the population, and that plant is just not as pretty as a lily!

  4. Great list of words. I only knew a couple of them.

  5. Ear trumpet–haven’t heard that one in a long while. I wonder if a plant I used to have was an aspidistra. It looks familiar, but never knew the name…. Thanks for the post.

  6. I was just today driving and listening to an audio book and had to repeat endlessly ‘unkind sobriquet’ so I wouldn’t forget to look it up. Now I see it here! Thank you.

  7. Great collection of words! Sometimes I can guess what an unfamiliar word means by the way it’s used, but sometimes it’s just annoying and I feel that the author is showing off. Especially when the author seems to be writing with a thesaurus right next to them! Doesn’t bother me in historical novels, but contemporaries are a different story.

    Wondering if most people enjoy coming across unfamiliar words or find it annoying?

  8. I used to groan when my parents would send me to the dictionary instead of just TELLING me what a word meant, but now I’m grateful because it gave me my curiosity for words. Now I scurry to get it every chance I get!

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