Wondrous Words Wednesday

I’m currently reading Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. It’s taking me quite a while as it’s a long book of just over 800 pages and there are many characters and sub-plots. There are also many new-to-me words!

I’m reading it in bed on Kindle, a free edition without any notes, but, of course Kindle has its own built in dictionary, which I’m constantly using. During the day I’m reading the Wordsworth Classic edition, which does have notes, and illustrations and an introduction, all of which help with understanding the literary references as well as words that are no longer in current use.

For today I’m just going to pick out one word: hippedEugene Wrayburn has been telling Mortimer Lightwood, his friend and fellow lawyer about how he enjoys goading the schoolmaster, Bradley Headstone, by walking all over London knowing that he is being followed by Headstone. He describes this as enjoying the ‘pleasures of the chase’. Lightwood says he doesn’t like it. Eugene then says:

‘You are a little hipped, dear fellow’, said Eugene; ‘you have been too sedentary. Come and enjoy the pleasures of the chase.’

I wasn’t at all sure I knew what that meant – was Lightwood getting a bit broad in the hips, sitting down too much, a bit too fat, maybe and needing the exercise?

One of the Kindle dictionary defines it as ‘having hips of a specified kind: a thin-hipped girl, so maybe that’s what Dickens meant – Lightwood has fat hips! Another definition given on Kindle is ‘obsessed or infatuated with‘, which seems to fit better.

The Wordsworth Classics edition has a more appropriate definition, I think. Hipped meaning ‘depressed‘. Lightwood needs more exercise to lift his mood.

Then I wondered how my Chambers Dictionary defined hipped. It has several to choose from, including the more modern use of ‘hip‘, meaning ‘following the latest trends in music, fashion, political ideas, etc’, ‘ the fruit of the dog-rose or other rose‘, and so on. But the one that fits is:

hipped: melancholy; peevish, offended, annoyed; obsessed.

No wonder, it’s taking me longer than usual to read this book, when just one little word takes up so much thought. 🙂

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme created by Kathy at BermudaOnion, where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.

6 thoughts on “Wondrous Words Wednesday

  1. Wow, you had to go to a lot of sources to find the right definition. It’s frustrating when the definition in your dictionary doesn’t make sense. I like hipped and will try to use it.

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  2. Margaret – Terrific choice of word to explore! I didn’t know what that meant in that context. It’s an interesting word.

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  3. Interesting bit of research you had to do. Dickens is a good source for words, but at times this does slow up reading (and understanding) the book quite a lot!

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