November 16, 2011

Whacking Great Words

I just have to say, I love this weekly meme.  Since I discovered Wondrous Words Wednesdays hosted at Bermuda Onion, I find myself excited every time I come across a word throughout the week's reading that is new to me, or even one that I've heard but never bothered to look up before.  It adds a little extra zest of excitement to the reading I would be doing anyway.  So without further ado, to the words!

1.  distrait--"absent-minded, troubled, distracted", according to Wiktionary.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used this word at least three times in The Hound of the Baskervilles, and though it was clear from the context the general territory of mental distress we were in, I was glad when I finally looked it up and got it settled to my satisfaction EXACTLY what he was saying.

2.  ecarte--the name of a specific card game.  Wikipedia says it is similar to Euchre.

3.  pannikin--a drinking vessel or the beverage it contains.  I don't know why "cup" didn't suffice, but then this is Sherlock Holmes we're talking about.

The remainder of my words this week come from a book on Egyptology, hence the sudden shift in topics.

4.  puerperal fever--is apparently an infection of the uterus, and is usually contracted through childbirth.

5.  uxorious--So the Latin word for wife is uxor.  Who knew?  Anyway, where I come from, our synonym for this term is "hen-pecked."  Another phrase that describes the condition, of which Wiktionary helpfully reminded me, has to do with a man who is ruled by a certain female reproductive organ.

6.  marcel(led)--to put lots of intricate waves in something.  Apparently, the waves or ruffles for which two famous brands of potato chip are so well-known are actually marcel waves.

7.  parure--a lavish set of matching jewelry that could literally allow one to be draped from head to toe in pieces that were all coordinated together.  I'll take mine in sapphire and silver, please.

8.  lappet--It's easiest to explain this one with a visual aid.  No doubt you've seen this shimmering fellow before.

Photo courtesy of Aikon at nl.wikipedia

On his head, he's wearing the famous nemes headdress.  See the material hanging down on each shoulder?  Those are lappets.


  1. The only time I've noticed "marcelled" in reading was in novels about women's hair styles from the 1930s or thereabout.

    And I've always thought of "pannikin" as something small, a rather small cup.

  2. I think I've seen pannikin but I couldn't define it, and I've seen marcel used in reference to hair as well. I find distrait interesting. I think I can remember it because it reminds me of distraught. Thanks for playing along!

  3. Sherlock Holmes is certainly a rich source of fascinating words. I knew some of these, but some are certainly new to me too.

  4. Parure is a great word. Thanks for sharing. If you get a chance, my words are here.

  5. We use some of these words in French : distrait, écarté,parure, fièvre puerpérale with the same meaning. Marcel is a man second name (like Robert or William...) and too a "T-shirt" without sleeves.
    But pannikin, uxorious and lappet were new to me ! Thanks ! You are right ! Sometimes a photo is better than words !

  6. Some looked familiar, great words.

  7. I especially love the words found in the old mystery novels. Sherlock Holmes is a favorite although it's been awhile since I read him.

  8. I had heard some of them before but knew only distrait.. Like you say, this meme is actually making me pay attention to words and look them up.


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