October 19, 2011

Words, Words, Words

My goodness, I'm overflowing with fascinating words today!  I finished The Know-It-All between last week's post and this one, and it's always a good source of new vocabulary.  The surprise source this week was the sweet little book called Betsy-Tacy and Tib, which contained a number of new words for me just because they've passed out of common use.  Let us dive into the sea of loquacity,* shall we?

*I learned this one years ago from The Pickwick Papers; it just means wordy or talkative.

1.  sybaritic--Apparently, Sybaris was an ancient Greek city inhabited entirely by people with a reputation throughout the ancient world for their abandoned self-indulgence.  If the rest of the ancient Greeks (not counting the Spartans, of course) thought they took things a bit too far, I can only imagine what a Friday night was like in Sybaris!

2.  limnologist--Someone who makes a career out of studying lakes.  Did you know this job existed?  I guess I sort of did, but I never thought about what the title for it would be.

3.  selenographist--Someone who makes a career out of studying/mapping the moon.  Don't you think this would have been a frustrating job to have before the age of space flight?

4.  claque--This was a laugh track before the invention of sound recording.  People were paid to go to the theater and make the appropriate sounds--clapping, laughter, tears--at the appropriate points in the performance, to encourage those around them to do the same.

5.  axilla--Believe it or not, this is the medical term for "armpit."

6.  erythrocyte--"Red blood cell" to people who just need extra syllables in their lives--like doctors.

7.  insertion--We all know what this means, right?  Except it also has another meaning I'd never heard of.  It refers to decorations worked into a garment, of which Betsy, Tacy, and Tib were very proud.

8.  saleratus--Baking soda.  End of bulletin.

The things we learn on Wondrous Words Wednesdays!


  1. Hello JNCL,

    Thanks for stopping by Fiction Books and saying 'Hi'.

    It is always good to 'talk' with new people and your comments are always welcome.

    This is a series of books and an author that I have not come across before and I can't believe what a beautiful little series they are.

    I can't believe that your words were taken from a book, whose target audience is 9-12 year olds, although it probably makes perfect sense when it is taken into account that these are words which are seldom, if ever, employed in modern day usage.

    I knew of Sybaritic and the dual meaning of Insertion, as my sister-in-law is a dress designer and seamstress.

    Your remaining words are all new to me and I enjoyed reading and learning about them. There are a couple of good ones amongst them, which could quite feasibly be slipped into everyday conversation, without appearing too contrived, so I shall be on the lookout for just such an opportunity.

    Thanks for a really interesting post.


  2. Great great words ! I just knew "claque", the same in French and sybaritc for the same reason but selenographist and limnologist, never !


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