Wondrous Words #101

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new-to us words that we find in our reading.¬†This week I read The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. (my review is here.) It was set in the 1890’s so the language depicted that time period. Here are some of the more interesting words I found:

1. isinglass: The isinglass sides of the hard-coal burner were aglow, and the air in the study was so hot that as he came in the doctor opened the door into his little operating room, where there was no stove.

The meaning of isinglass is very interesting. Basically it’s a kind of gelatin obtained from fish, especially sturgeon, and used in making jellies, glue, etc., and for clarifying ale. But, it also refers to mica or a similar material in thin transparent sheets. I’m going with the mica. I don’t think the sides of a coal stove would be covered with a gelatin mixture. Might be very messy.

2. troche: He drew off his glove and felt in his vest pocket. “Have a troche, Kronborg,” he said, producing some. “Sent me for samples. Very good for a rough throat.”

There was no definition in my dictionaries but it sounds like troche is some kind of throat lozenge. In fact Wikipedia says it’s a pill that is meant to be held in the mouth to dissolve slowly, releasing medication.

3.shakos: The reins of the horses, the wheels of the spurs, the brooding eyebrows of the Emperor, Murat’s fierce mustaches, the great shakos of the Guard, were all worked out with the minutest fidelity.

Shako is a cylindrical or conical military hat with a brim and a plume or pom-pom.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is sponsored by Kathy at Bermuda Onion. Visit her for more new words and/or a chance to play along with your own new words.

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11 Responses to Wondrous Words #101

  1. Louise says:

    3 great words there Margot, all quite of their time I suspect. I’ve heard of isinglass before, but couldn’t remember what it was.Shakos are certainly recognisable, but I would never have been able to come up with their name.

  2. Annie says:

    I like “isinglass”, Margot, but the name in French is yet more difficult ! “ichtyocolle” : it refers only to the first meaning : a kind of gelatin .obtained from fish

    Shako is a word used in French too, with the same meaning. We can write it too schako.

  3. kaye says:

    When isinglass is in a crossword, the answer is always mica as far as I’ve seen. Never heard of a troche but I did know shako. Wonderful choises, Margot. Have a good week.

  4. I love the illustration!

  5. When I looked at your words, I guessed troche was French, but I must be wrong since Annie didn’t mention it. Those are all great words!

  6. Great words — all knew to me. Thanks for the illustration of the hat. That helped a lot!

  7. Troche sounds so much better than throat lozenge. Had heard shakos used before too but had never been certain what part of a guard’s uniform it referred to – thanks!

  8. I knew isinglass (I’m old!). And shako from crossword puzzles. So when I get to the book on my Kindle, I’ll know how it’s used (crosswords add to your vocabulary, but without reason or context.)

  9. Wow, that is a great round-up of words this week – all of them are completely new to me. Here’s mine: http://www.southernfiberreads.com/2011/01/wondrous-words-and-wow-100-words.html

  10. Pingback: Virago Reading Week: Round Up #3 « A Few of my Favourite Books

  11. Staci says:

    I really like your post because it has so many new-to-me words!!

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