Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun.

Before I get to my words, though, I just had to share a funny story from Boo. When I picked him up after school on Tuesday, he greeted me by saying he wanted to play a game whereby (he didn't actually say whereby) he would give me a word and I'd have to provide the definition. OK, I said, that sounds fun.

"What's my first word?" I asked.


"Evade?" (keep in mind the kid is in first grade. I highly doubt this was a spelling word.)

"Yes. Evade."

"Um, well, to kind of hide from something or to not tell someone the truth ...."

"You! Are! Correct!" Boo says.

And with that, here are this week's wondrous words.

crepuscular adjective
1.of, pertaining to, or resembling twilight; dim; indistinct.
2.Zoology. appearing or active in the twilight, as certain bats and insects.

Flannery's describing herself as 'thirteenth century' on their walks shows the weightiness of some of these crepuscular conversations; she wasn't much for small talk." (From Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch).

cynosure - noun
1. something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance, interest, etc.: the cynosure of all eyes.
2.something serving for guidance or direction.

A single-scene character study of an imperious Mrs. Peterdon being ushered to her seat at the theater was titled "The Cynosure" ...." (From Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch).

neologisms - noun
1.a new word, meaning, usage, or phrase.
2.the introduction or use of new words or new senses of existing words.
3.a new doctrine, esp. a new interpretation of sacred writings.
4. Psychiatry. a new word, often consisting of a combination of other words, that is understood only by the speaker: occurring most often in the speech of schizophrenics.

Her readings in Joyce and Faulkner were echoed in neologisms like "greyflying" to describe the train whizzing by. (From Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch).

metier - noun
1. An occupation, a trade, or a profession.
2. Work or activity for which a person is particularly suited; one's specialty.

Whether or not I was correct to conclude that fiction was my metier, I clearly couldn't be trusted with the facts. (Jay McInerney, on his stint as a fact-checker for The New Yorker, as written in the preface to his new collection of stories "How It Ended")

physiognomy –noun, plural -mies.
1.the face or countenance, esp. when considered as an index to the character: a fierce physiognomy.
2. Also called anthroposcopy. the art of determining character or personal characteristics from the form or features of the body, esp. of the face.
3. the outward appearance of anything, taken as offering some insight into its character: the physiognomy of a nation.

Later he would realize that most of us believe in our ability to read character from physiognomy. (From the short story "Smoke", included in the collection "How It Ended" by Jay McInerney.)

What new words did you discover this week?


bermudaonion said...

Boo needs to write a WWW post. I have Flannery in my TBR pile and will need to refer to this post when I read it - I don't know any of those words. Thanks for playing along.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Happy to play along with this one. I love this meme.

avisannschild said...

I love the story about Boo! The only one of your words that was new to me was cynosure. I learnt what neologism means in university when a prof accused me of including them in something I'd handed in to him! (I don't see what's wrong with a good neologism!)