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.

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.

My words this week are from The Hollow by Agatha Christie. This is a country house murder mystery featuring Hercule Poirot(see yesterday’s post for more details) in which I came across these wondrous words that were completely new to me.

  • Tritoma – here the victim is imagining himself in San Miguel, thinking of the “blue sky … smell of mimosa … a scarlet tritoma upright against green leaves … the hot sun … the dust … that desperation of love and suffering …”

Tritoma is obviously a plant of some sort, I thought and I discovered it’s a Red Hot Poker.

  • ‘Tuft-hunter’ – “Inspector Grange did not think much of the Chief Constable of Wealdshire – a fussy despot and a tuft-hunter.”

I had no idea what a tuft-hunter could be – it’s a toady, a hanger-on to noblemen, or persons of quality. ‘Tufts‘ were gold tassels formerly worn on a nobleman’s cap in English universities, a titled undergraduate – a person of consequence.

  • ‘Coloratura’ – “Lucy has to give the coloratura touch – even to murder.”

Something to do with colour, I thought. It means “florid”, “embellished”.

  • ‘Meretricious’ – “Edward knew nothing about women’s clothes except by instinct, but he had a shrewd idea that all these exhibits were somehow of a meretricious order.”

I was getting this word confused with ‘meritorious‘ meaning worthy of merit or praise, but that didn’t make sense in the context, because the next sentence is: “No, he thought, this place was not worthy of her.”

‘Meretricious’ means: ‘of the nature of or relating to prostitution; characteristic or worthy of a prostitute; flashy; gaudy’ – not at all ‘meritorious’!

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.

I’ve been reading and learning new (to me) words for a while but haven’t yet joined in. Here are my first “Wondrous Words”, taken from Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue, an Inspector Rebus book. I always come across words I’m not sure I understand but usually I’m so engrossed in reading that I don’t stop to look up their definitions. I’m reading this book for the second time, having raced through it recently and this time I’ve jotted down a few words to look up. Some of them I could guess the meaning from the context, others I couldn’t. As you can see they’re all Scots words.

  • Radge – ‘On dope, he was a small problem, an irritation; off dope, he was pure radge.’

‘Radge’ means a rage,  an unpleasant person.

  • Bridie – ‘He’d laughed again, bought her tea and a bridie at a late-opening cafe.’

‘Bridie’ is a minced meat and onion pie.

  •  Smirr – ‘Only it wasn’t real rain, it was smirr, a fine spray-mist which drenched you before you knew it.’

‘Smirr’, is defined in the text.

  •  Dreich – ‘It was all Rebus needed first thing on a dreich Monday morning.’

‘Dreich’ is tedious, dreary, long drawn out.

  • Stoor – ‘We had this lot stashed in a storeroom’, Ancram said. ‘You should have seen the stoor that came off when we brought them out.’

‘Stoor’ – is fine dust.

  • Broo – ‘The cabbies are all on the broo, claiming benefit.’

‘Broo’ – is unemployment benefit.

  • Stooshie – ‘Does that mean the stooshie’ll die down?’

‘Stooshie’ – is fuss, disturbance, ado.