Words from my reading

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

rue, n A flowering plant of some sort [I tried to ID it, but there are several different plants, all unrelated, that are called rue or some variation thereof. The one called known only as rue doesn’t seem to fit the climate referred to here.]
page 8, In the Garden of the North American Martyrs by Tobias Wolff (story: “Next Door”)
“The blossoms are wet with dew and stick to their bodies, petals of columbine, clematis, blazing star, baby’s breath, larkspur, iris, rue — covering them completely, turning them white so that you cannot tell one from another, man from woman, woman from man.”
I knew rue as a verb, but I didn’t know it as a flowering plant.

moraine, n A mass of rocks and sediment carried down and deposited by a glacier, typically as ridges at its edges or extremity
page 21, The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello
“A six-mile moraine of land ten minutes from downtown Seattle, Mercer Island boasted more millionaires per capita than any other city in Washington State.”

humus, n The organic component of soil, formed by the decomposition of leaves and other plant material by soil microorganisms
page 70, The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello
“I took the turnoff, scanning the humus shoulders for disheveled leaves, stray footprints, one shred of evidence that might back up the kidnapping allegations of the VanAlstynes.”
When I read this one again I knew what it meant, but when I was initially reading the book it didn’t come to me.

plagioclase, n A form of feldspar [abundant rock-forming mineral] consisting of aliuminosilicates of sodium and/or calcium, common in igneous rocks and typically white
page 79, The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello
“I remembered working at my desk in the FBI’s mineralogy lab, a plagioclase specimen testing under my microscope.”

batholith, n A very large igneous intrusion extending deep in the earth’s crust
page 152, The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello
“I pushed him toward the car where Byron Ngo was stepping out, his narrow face set like a batholith, dark eyes shining.”

chthonous, adj Referring to the earth, of the earth; characterized by soil or dirt; related to the underworld
page 265, The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello
“When I stepped into the closet, I smelled a damp chthonous odor rising from the wet clothing on the floor.”

More great words on my Words from my reading page.

Reviews of books cited here:
In the Garden of the North American Martyrs by Tobias Wolff
The Rivers Run Dry by Sibella Giorello

What new words have you found lately?


8 responses to “Words from my reading

  1. Humus is the only one I knew. A very interesting list. My daughter is majoring in horticulture–she might know far more of these than I do. Thanks for sharing.

  2. The River Runs Dry seems to have a lot of very interesting words in it. For me it’s the sign of an interesting book that’s going to make m think.

  3. You’ve been doing some heavy reading! I knew humus from taking horticulture in high school, but the rest were new to me.

  4. Wow-lot’s of geology terms! Makes me curious about the author’s background.

  5. Hey, what a cool website! Really like the tactile approach to both words and fiber arts.

    You caught the very same words in “The Rivers Run Dry” that gave my editors migraines. Congratulations. Chthonous was a real battle to keep!

    Yes, Raleigh Harmon, the protagonist of this series, is a forensic geologist. As the author, my only qualification was a geology major in college — and the well-earned title “World’s Worst Scientist.” You know what they say, Those who can’t do, write.

    Joining you in your love of language, with much gratitude,

    Sibella Giorello

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