Wondrous Words #58

It’s Wednesday and time to share new-to-me words I’ve found in my reading.

One the most enjoyable items of modern technology is the instant access to all sorts of information. I remember the days when we had to make a special trip to the library when we needed to look something up in the encyclopedia. Now information is just a click away. I enjoy using Wikipedia. Every day on the home page, there is a special feature. This past week they had this picture of a beautiful Australian songbird. But the first paragraph had me reaching for my dictionary, online of course. Here’s what I found, all in one paragraph.

The Superb Fairywren is a common and familiar passerine bird of the Maluridae family. Sedentary and territorial, it is found across south-eastern Australia. The species exhibits a high degree of sexual dimorphism; the male in breeding plumage has a striking bright blue forehead, ear coverts, mantle, and tail, with a black mask and black or dark blue throat. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in colour; this gave the early impression that males were polygamous as all dull-coloured birds were taken for females.

1. Passerine refers to birds that are adapted to perching. That includes all songbirds.

2. Dimorphism refers to something representing two distinct forms.

3.  Covert is not the same as “covert ops” as in a thriller, but close. In ornithology it means the feathers covering the main bases. In this case, the feathers covering the Fairywren’s ears.

4.  Polygamous in this sentence also means having more than one mate, no different from the human form of polygamy.

What new words did you find this week? I hope you’ll join us in Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy, our stouthearted (courageous, determined) leader.

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Several people asked me last week how I go about catching all the new words while I am reading. Here’s my method: I use post-its or sticky papers, whatever you call them. I prefer the kind the are only about a half-inch across and maybe an inch and a half long.

When I start a new book I put about a half dozen into the front of the book. When I come to a new word I put the sticky note in the sentence where the new word occurs and then let the end stick out a little bit so I can find it again later. If the word is really a stopper, I’ll go find a dictionary right away.

I also use the papers to mark a special passage I may want to quote or talk about in my review. What did I do before the invention of sticky notes? Don’t tell anyone but I bent the pages – bottom of the page for new words and top of the page for quotes or special passages. But I never, ever did that in a library book. I learned about the sacredness of library books when I was seven and left my books out in the rain.

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12 Responses to Wondrous Words #58

  1. I love the words today being connected to birds! Now that the weather is starting to turn a bit in Michigan the birds are very vocal and active. Can’t wait until my hummingbirds come back!

  2. BooksPlease says:

    Fairywren – what a wonderful name! Talking about misuse of library books – I’ve not read in the bath since I dropped a library book in the water …

    I jot down the words I don’t know and look them up later unless I can’t make any sense of their meaning.

  3. Great new words! Passerine in particular fascinates me, because I thought most birds were adapted to perching. I wonder what it’s called when they’re not. Thanks for participating, Margot!

  4. Lisa says:

    A theme! Those are great words. My cousin and aunt are avid birdwatchers, so I bet they would know them.

    My word is here.

  5. cerrin says:

    I am very careful with library books. But I love reading in the bath. Something about it is just so decadent laying there reading…with a glass of something…popping chocolates lol

    Makes me feel lazy and rich.

  6. Heather says:

    I use post-it notes too! I stick one on the first page of my book to use for noting quotes, words and the like. GMTA!

    I like the word passerine, it sounds so exotic! lol

  7. That fairywren is beautiful! I love the light and dark blue. What a perfect name for such a fantastic looking bird!

  8. Hi Margot. Our Internet Connection has been broken since Friday morning, so I’ve been doing even more reading than usual. Reading a P.D. James mystery and found myself thinking of your Wednesday posts and writing down all the unfamiliar words. So…if I ever get caught up with reading and maybe write a post or two .. I am going to join this meme! Maybe next Wednesday — that’ll be my goal for catching up.

  9. caite says:

    i love those skinny post-it notes too. mark a phrase, take a note, use as a bookmark..wonderful

  10. What a great find to see so many new words in one paragraph. I love the accessibility of info on the internet, too. It just amazes me beyond belief. We mark our new words the same way! Except that I use Post-It flags instead of Post-It notes, but same process. Great minds think alike, huh? Have a good day!

  11. Bumbles says:

    At work we have those Sign Here shaped sticky flags but they are just colored without any words on them – so you can write on them in pen. You should try those – smaller than post-its and will actually point to a specific sentence or two.

  12. JoAnn says:

    I love post-it notes and have also been sticking a bunch on the inside cover when I start a book, too. Lately I’ve even been using an index card as a book mark…. now if only I could keep a pen handy!

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