Thursday 28 July 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday 27/7/11

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a fabulous weekly meme hosted by Bermuda Onion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our weekly reading.  

I've just recently read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles. It was a cracking read and provided lots, and lots of fabulous new words for me.

1. Carbuncle (noun)

This isn't quite so much a new word, as a new usage for me. Carbuncle is a term for a multi-headed boil. You'll be pleased to know that I won't include a picture here, but Google Image is just a moment away for those brave enough to explore.

Imagine my surprise to see it used thus in Ruth Rendell's Foreward to The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes:

So while he could people many of his stories with characters like the unfortunate engineer who loses his thumb and that master of disguise, the man with the twisted lip- two of the best stories, these- he understood that to attract readers he must also write about a jewelled coronet which is 'one of the most precious public possessions of the empire' and the fabulous blue carbuncle, abstracted from the jewel case of a countess.

A reference as it turns out to The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Here a carbuncle, is clearly a gemstone. Wiki tells us that it is an archaic name given to any red cabochon cut gemstone. It particularly applied to red garnet. (A cabochon cut stone that has been shaped and polished instead of faceted. Turns out one of my favourite necklaces is a cabochon cut stone and I never knew! I think I'll dig it out and wear it tomorrow).

Picture credit- and don't I wish I could join their society?
2. Penang lawyer

It was a fine, thick piece of wood, bulbous-headed, of the sort that is known as a "Penang lawyer".

From the context this was clearly a walking stick. Still an intriguing term. I wondered what it looked like, and why was it called a Penang lawyer- was it used as punishment? (Possibly)

More than you could ever want to know about walking sticks
3. Ferrule (noun)

The thick iron ferrule is worn down, so it is evident that he has done a great amount of walking with it.

The webpage where I found information on the Penang lawyer, also answers this one. I'm starting to realise that there are a whole world of Holmes devotees out there. And they all seem to have wildly informative websites!

Originally, canes had a bare tip which limited the life expectancy of the stick. Often, the stick would become frayed and swollen at its terminal end. To protect the tip of the cane from wear and tear, inventors created the ferrule, which is a cap to cover the bottom. It is usually made of metal such as copper or silver with an iron heel. It can also be made of horn (including water buffalo horn) or ivory. Early canes had long brass ferrules up to 6 - 7 inches to protect the cane from mud on unpaved roads. As roads were topped, ferrules became progressively shorter. By the time Mr. Holmes & Dr. Watson strolled with their walking sticks, the ferrules would have been under 2 inches.

4. Dolichocephalic

I had hardly expected so dolichocephalic a skull or such well-marked supra-orbital development. 

Cephalic I know very well as head. I wasn't familiar with the dolicho- descriptor. (Supra-orbital is above the eye). 

Dolichocephaly refers to a relatively long narrow head. The Free Dictionary. 

The people pictures were a bit alarming, I preferred the dogs.

5. Roysterer(s) (noun)

This was used twice in the Hound of the Baskervilles!

But it was not the sight of her body, nor yet was it that of the body of Hugo Baskerville lying near her, which raised the hair upon the heads of these three dare-devil roysterers.... (the next bit is too much of a spoiler I fear)

From the verb to roister- to engage in boisterous merrymaking, revel noisily. The Free Dictionary. 


bermudaonion said...

I couldn't resist googling carbuncle and now I'm sorry I did. I did know what ferrule means but the rest of your words are new to me. Thanks for playing along!

Julie @ Read Handed said...

These are all great! Interesting words. If you get a chance, mine are here.

Margot said...

I found your discussion of carbuncle very interesting. I didn't know of the reference to gems but I can see how that could be. When my son was a small boy her had a coupe of carbuncles on his thigh. They were very hard. His pediatrician took care of them and said they came from a virus.

Annie said...

Great words in a great book ! When I was a child aI saw the fim on the TV and was very afraid ! In French we say "escarboucle" for "carbuncle". You learnt me that it was first used for a red gem !

Anonymous said...

good words, some I recognized.