Wondrous Words

Reading Agatha Christie’s books I often come across words or phrases that I’m either not sure what they mean but can get the gist of the meaning from the context, or have never come across before.

I found an example of each type whilst reading The Murder on the Links, an early Poirot mystery first published in 1923:

Traps as in this sentence: ‘I had made a somewhat hurried departure from the hotel and was busy assuring myself that I had duly collected all my traps, when the train started.(page 5)

Captain Hastings is the narrator and is returning to London on the Calais train, so I thought he couldn’t be taking animal traps with him on the train and it was more likely to be his luggage. According to the Chambers Dictionary that is the meaning of the word: ‘personal luggage or belongings’. 

I didn’t know what the Bertillon system was. Poirot referred to it when talking about the lack of fingerprints on the murder weapon and remarked that ‘The veriest amateur of an English Mees knows it – thanks to the publicity the Bertillon system has been given in Paris.’ (page 35)

The Bertillon system is described in Wikipedia in the article on Anthropometry. Simple put it is a system for identifying criminals based on a series of their physical measurements introduced by Alphonse Bertillon in 1883. In 1894 England had adopted the system and had added the partial use of fingerprints. By 1900 England relied on finger prints alone.

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion.

7 thoughts on “Wondrous Words”

  1. Agatha Christie has been a great source for my Wondrous Words Wednesday. Almost every book I’ve read of hers has a few new ones. However, I read Murder On the Links a couple of years ago and don’t remember the Bertillion system. I do remember something about fingerprints, so this must be what has been stuck in my mind. Thanks for the refresher.

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