Wednesday 11 January 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday 11/1/12

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 recently read Eleanor H. Porter's classic work Pollyanna. As with any older book there were some interesting words that made be ponder as well as a lovely story. 

1.Basque (noun)

But there weren't any black things in the last missionary barrel, only a lady's velvet basque which Deacon Carr's wife said wasn't suitable for me at all; besides, it had white spots- worn, you know- on both elbows, and some other places. 

In Victorian fashion, basque refers to a closely fitted bodice or jacket extending past the waistline over the hips (wiki)

How I imagine Pollyanna's basque
nothing like the modern ones

2. Gimcrack (Noun)

When he comes back he writes books- queer, odd books, they say about some gimcrack he's found in them heathen countries. 

A cheap and showy object of little or no use; a gewgaw. (And isn't gewgaw a fabulous word?)

No mention of how this may relate to Gimcrack, the racecourse.

3. Scylla and Charybdis

They were always fight- I mean Father had- that is, I mean, we had more trouble keeping peace between them then we did with the rest of the Aiders,' corrected Pollyanna, a little breathless from her efforts to steer between the Scylla of her father's past commands in regard to speaking of church quarrels, and the Charybdis of her aunt's present commands in regard to speaking of her father. 

Between Scylla and Charybdis, is an idiom deriving from Greek mythology (wiki), which is used as we would use between a rock and a hard place.  They formed either side of a strait. Scylla being a six-headed monster, and Charybdis a whirlpool. I always wonder how often child readers would get Greek mythology references.

4. Pharisees (Noun)

"But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy and faith: these ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone."

i) A member of an ancient Jewish sect that emphasized strict interpretation and observance of the Mosaic law in both its oral and written form. 
ii) A hypocritically self-righteous person. The free dictionary. 

5. Jigger (noun)

'Oh, she ain't handsome, of course: but I will own up she doesn't look like the same woman, what with the ribbons and lace jiggers Miss Pollyanna makes her wear 'round her neck.'

While I found lots of meanings for jiggers I couldn't find this meaning. I haven't been stumped before! We used to use jigger when I was a kid playing pool, for the thing you used to rest the cue on. 


Anonymous said...

Nice words!
As for Classic references, maybe at the time this was written they were more commonly known? When I was a child, Scylla and Charybdis would be a self-evident reference for me and most of my peers -- but then again, I am Italian, so that may change some things.

bermudaonion said...

I always thought a jigger was what you used to measure alcohol. Gimcrack is a great word!

Annie said...

Beautiful and interesting words Louise, Thanks !
In France we say "tomber de charybde en Scylla ",something like : "to fall from Charybdis to Scylla".

Satia said...

I think you did find the right fit for "jigger" but it wasn't immediately apparent.

A "jigger worker" was a woman, apparently usually a lace-worker, who carried upon her person a jigger of illicit alcohol, probably from a still. So jigger lace probably is alluding to the fact that the lace is factory made rather than handmade.

For context, I found this and I hope it helps:

Anonymous said...

Thanks! for sharing these interesting words.

Lady In Read said...

very nice list of words today.. I thought I knew basque but was mistaken! I know gewgaw though and Pharisees (just recently while reading another book - To be Perfectly Honest)
my favorite word here today - tough choice - like them all..

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Louise,

I know 'basque' and 'Pharisee' and 'geegaw'(although not in relation to 'gimcrack', which I think is a fantastic word).

I most certainly would never have guessed the references to the classical Greek words and I also had no idea about 'jigger'

Some real teaser words this week, thanks for sharing.


Margot said...

Isn't it amazing how a simple book like Pollyanna can bring so much pleasure and loads of new words? I enjoyed this reminder of the book. It's been awhile since I read it but I only knew some of those words. I must have skipped over them in my last reading.

On another subject - I'm so glad you joined the Foodies Read 2 Challenge. It should be another fun year discovering good food books.

Jennifer said...

I couldn't remember WHICH horrors from Greek mythology these were until you reminded me. I know Basque as the people group, not the fashion accessory, and gimcrack just sounds like something you shouldn't say in polite society! My inner adolescent perked her ears up at that one!
The Beauty of Eclecticism

Joy said...

I loved Pollyanna as a kid but don't remember all these words. I knew Pharisees from church, probably guessed at the rest and hurried on for the story.
Joy's Book Blog

Kath Lockett said...

I think that 'gimcrack' will join my regular vocab from now on!