Wondrous Words

Each Wednesday Kathy (Bermuda Onion) runs the Wondrous Words Wednesday meme to share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.

This week my words are from Poetic Lives: Shelley by Daniel Hahn. This is a short biography of Percy Bysshe Shelley. In this extract Shelley is writing to a friend about the poet Robert Southey, one of the “Lake Poets” and a contemporary of William Wordsworth. Southey was older than Shelley, who had idolised him, until he met him, that is. He disappointed Shelley:

Southey has changed. I shall see him soon and I shall reproach him for his tergiversation. – He to whom Bigotry, Tyranny, Law was hateful, has become the votary of these idols in a form the most disgusting. (page 28)

I had no idea of the meaning of tergiversation and only a vague idea about votary.

To tergiversate means to turn one’s back; to desert; to change sides; to shuffle, shift , use evasions.

A Votary is a person dedicated by or as if by a vow to some service, worship or way of life; someone enthusiastically addicted to a pursuit, study etc.

Mmm,  it seems I’m a votary of reading and books and I have no intention of being a tergiversator.

5 thoughts on “Wondrous Words

  1. Oh, I like tergiversation (as a word, not a lifestyle…). My problem with wonderful new words is that I cannot use them without being conscious of showing off, hence I forget about them. I love the way this one rolls around the mouth, though 🙂

    Votary is a word I’m familiar with from the Greek and Roman history classes/books that peppered my college years.


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