November 02, 2011

My Word!


I have a feeling that everybody on the Wondrous Words Wednesday meme will be relieved when I switch from reading Sherlock Holmes to something else for a while; we've all got Victoriana fatigue.  But, for now, here's another short Holmesian data set.

1.  Lascar--"A lascar ... was a sailor or militiaman from the Indian Subcontinent or other countries east of the Cape of Good Hope, employed on European ships from the 16th century until the beginning of the 20th century" (thus spake Wikipedia).  (Behold Exhibit A)

2.  equinoctial--Obviously, this is just the adjectival form of "equinox".  To be honest, though, I never knew "equinox" HAD an adjectival form until I read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.  So that was some useful information.

3.  vesta--These were matches, made from wood or wax, which beggars on the streets of London gave their benefactors if given a donation, so that they could avoid arrest for begging; no doubt, some of them also wished to keep their dignity intact and feel as if they were engaged in some form of honest trade.  I've known about the matchstick trade for years, but I did not know there was a separate term for them, nor did I know that they were ever made of wax.  Apparently, Vesta was also "the Roman goddess of hearth and home", so it seems logical that the term for the matches stems from this mythological figure.

2 comments:

  1. I never knew there's an adjectival form of equinox either. It's obviously not used much these days. Vesta is very interesting and makes a lot of sense - they were in essence selling the vestas. Thanks for playing along!

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  2. Oh no, I love the words Conan Doyle used. Older books often have such a tremendous vocabulary. I love how you can learn so much from one little word like vesta. The whole match thing, begging and Roman goddesses all wrapped up in one little word! I hope you keep reading on through all the books! I hope to read them all one day myself of course. Naturally I didn't know any of your words today.

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