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Wondrous Words

January 27, 2009


I’ve decided to start a new feature where I list new (to me) words that I’ve run across in my reading.  I’d like this to be a bi-weekly or monthly feature, but it may depend on how many new words I run across.  Here are my newest wondrous words:

1. chiaroscuric – This is how Dan Simmons used it in Drood – “Yet even while the tone and structure of Our Mutual Friend is one of flawless satiric comedy that would have honored Cervantes, the underlying chiaroscuric background of the novel is dark to the point of despair.”

This word comes from chiaroscuro which means the quality of being veiled or partly in shadow.

2. concupiscent – This was used in Drood as well – “I could tell by the concupiscent gleam in Charles Dickens’s eyes that he knew he would be seeing Ellen that very evening, most likely in the privacy of his or her secret house in Slough.”

This word come from concupiscence and means strong desire, especially sexually.

3. betide – In Speaking For Myself, Cherie Blair said, “If what he gave me turned out not to be, then woe betide.”

Betide means to happen especially as if by fate.

What new words have you learned lately?

40 Comments leave one →
  1. January 27, 2009 7:24 am

    Well, I knew one of those word…concupiscent…which just tell you what sort of stuff I am reading.

  2. January 27, 2009 8:04 am

    I remember the first time I found the word “chiaroscuro”. It was in The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. I should keep track of new words I learn in books too! I love your new feature 🙂

  3. January 27, 2009 8:42 am

    Very fun! You should start a meme like Wondrous Words Wednesday!

  4. January 27, 2009 9:01 am

    Liky Nymeth, I learned chiaroscuro from Tale of Despereaux. I listened to it on audio book though and I can’t say it with the Italian accent the reader could. Great feature Kathy! I think Julie P. has a great idea.

  5. January 27, 2009 9:04 am

    i didn’t know any of these words! I love this new feature of yours.. I am such a new-word-maniac!:)

  6. January 27, 2009 9:57 am

    Fantastic feature! Love it. And great words for the inaugural post. Love your button too.

  7. stacybuckeye permalink
    January 27, 2009 10:30 am

    Thanks for 3 new words…now if only I can remember them next time I see them 🙂

  8. carolsnotebook permalink
    January 27, 2009 10:31 am

    What a great idea.

  9. January 27, 2009 10:47 am

    I think I love “betide”. I will use it wisely, I promise.

  10. January 27, 2009 11:00 am

    This is awesome! It’s so fun to learn new words and I agree that you should create a meme for this. 🙂

  11. Julie333w permalink
    January 27, 2009 11:00 am

    I ran across ‘supercilious’ in Inkheart last night while reading aloud to my kiddos. I realized I didn’t know how to pronounce it and only had a vague idea of what it meant. I love reading aloud and tripping over the pronunciation of words I would just glide right over if reading in my head.

  12. January 27, 2009 11:04 am

    This is a cool idea – I will have to keep my eyes open as I read… (that sounded kind of funny…)

  13. January 27, 2009 11:30 am

    Great feature Kathy. I love learning new words.

  14. January 27, 2009 2:04 pm

    I think a weekly feature would be terrific!

    I actually knew these three words, so I’m feeling especially smart today! I will be keeping my eyes open for new words, now, as I’m reading.

  15. January 27, 2009 2:11 pm

    Ex Libris was full of new words…but I can’t remember any of them. :-/ I think a Wednesday meme is definitely called for.

  16. January 27, 2009 2:54 pm

    cool! good words. I think I tripped over chiaroscuric in Despereaux, too. It looked familiar anyway…

  17. January 27, 2009 3:39 pm

    This is a fun idea – I hope you keep it going!

  18. January 27, 2009 4:15 pm

    While reading Louis Bayard’s mystery, The Black Tower, I was confronted by lots of 19th-century words. I had to go to the dictionary for the meaning of anchorite (one who has retired into religious seclusion) and of berline (a type of carriage). Have not yet had the opportunity to use either one in conversation — or in Scrabble.

  19. January 27, 2009 4:27 pm

    What a great little meme! I hope you start doing this every week?

  20. Bobbie Crawford-McCoy permalink
    January 27, 2009 5:35 pm

    This is great Kathy. 🙂
    It reminds me of when I was a teen and my parents would quiz me on really weird, big words. I became knows a the class dictionary lol
    Pretty fun stuff!
    Thanks for starting ‘Wondrous Words’.

    I haven’t learned any new words this week, but soon I hope! 🙂


  21. January 27, 2009 6:07 pm

    This is a fun idea! I only know ‘betide’ and I don’t think I would know how to pronounce ‘chiaroscuro’ if I happened to have the chance to use it in a conversation (which I highly doubt!).

  22. January 27, 2009 6:27 pm

    Love this new feature! And I’m going to be starting Drood soon, so thank you for the explanations!

  23. January 27, 2009 6:43 pm

    What fun! I love learning new words and probably ought to go back to keeping a vocab notebook. Your idea of sharing them is terrific!

  24. January 27, 2009 7:33 pm

    I was so going to do this! I couldn’t think of a cool W name so good job.

  25. January 27, 2009 9:55 pm

    Super new feature, Kathy … and the button is adorable, with the word sleuth!

    The only word on your list I knew was chiaroscuric, but I’ve never used it, only read it.

  26. Karen Montgomery permalink
    January 27, 2009 10:28 pm

    I see you are thinking a little like me since I use to keep a vocabulary log of all the new different words I found while I was reading, but it became to time consuming I stopped. Though, I did recently create a blog where I try to put in a new or different word each day. You and anyone else has my pleasure to check it out at

  27. January 28, 2009 7:29 am

    Great feature! Maybe I should resurrect my vocab notebook.

  28. January 28, 2009 8:36 am

    chiaroscuric is easy to deduce if you know chiaroscuro from art history or painting. I love that word…its one of my favorites.

    I wanted to thank you for introducing me to several other words I’ve not heard or seen before…thanks

  29. January 28, 2009 11:02 am

    This is a great feature Kathy! I’m not familiar with the meanings of these words but have heard betide before.

  30. January 28, 2009 3:14 pm

    How fun, Kathy. I need to start marking the new words I come across while reading. Yours were all new to me!

  31. January 28, 2009 5:26 pm

    Oh I love this! I would definitely participate if you ran it as a meme. What a great idea!

  32. January 28, 2009 7:02 pm

    Not sure what I love more–this new feature or the reference to Our Mutual Friend (my favorite Dickens book so far).

  33. January 28, 2009 8:07 pm

    Great new feature. I’d love to play along if this were a regular meme – even once or twice a month.

  34. January 29, 2009 7:02 am

    I’ve never encountered any of these words. This is quite educational, so thanks. It’s been a while since I noticed new words in books. Maybe now I’ll start seeking them out again…

  35. January 29, 2009 2:50 pm

    My favorite use of the word “concupiscent” is in Wallace Stevens’ poem “The Emperor of Ice-Cream.” One time I looked up many of the words in that poem, and found out that “deal” also means “cheap pine wood.” Now I think I have to write a post about that poem. What a good new feature you’ve come up with!

  36. February 1, 2009 9:37 pm

    “Woe betide” is a favorite of mine, and I knew the others, having read tons of Victorian novels and taken art history classes. I ran across a new one in The Harper’s Quine, which is set in medieval Glasgow, Scotland: “fewmet”, a much more refined way of saying animal poo! LOL

  37. February 1, 2009 9:41 pm

    Hurray! I keep a notebook and a dictionary with me at all times and blog about the words I learn along with each book. Even the words that I’m a little shaky on the meaning, I look up and write down- repetition is key! Glad to see someone else who is a word nerd like me. 😉

  38. February 2, 2009 1:45 am

    What a great feature. I always stop to check out words that I don’t know…well most of the time unless I can deduce the meaning from context. I will be tuning in.

  39. February 12, 2009 5:58 pm

    I love this new feature! I have a horrible memory so will probably not remember these words, but I loved reading them anyway.

  40. November 11, 2010 6:35 pm

    nice site thank you much

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