Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday (February 18)

Kathy at Bermudaonion’s Weblog has just starting hosting this weekly meme in which she asks us to share new words we’ve come across in our reading. Here are some new words I noticed as I was writing my review of Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott:

Petechiae – “The little bruises, those are petechiae” (p. 21).

This was the only word I couldn’t find in my dictionary. Wikipedia defines petechia (plural petechiae) as “a small red or purple spot on the body, caused by a minor hemorrhage (broken capillary blood vessels).”

Porphyry – “Porphyry, periphery, preface... He drew back from the precipice” (p. 25).

My Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2004)* defines porphyry as “a hard rock quarried in ancient Egypt, composed of crystals of white or red feldspar in a red matrix” or “an igneous rock with large crystals scattered in a matrix of much smaller crystals.” It comes from porphura, which means purple.

Locum – “The hospital chaplain was away all summer in English, locum at a parish in the Lake District” (p. 25).

Locum means “a temporary substitute, especially for a doctor, lawyer, minister, etc.”

Continuo – “As a running continuo underneath conversation, louder when he was alone, Paul heard his wife’s voice saying things to him, short sentences which were hard to bear” (p. 54).

Continuo is a musical term that means “an accompaniment consisting of a bass line and harmonies which are indicated by figures, usually played on a keyboard instrument.”

Redound – “Christian action doesn’t redound well when it’s done in public” (p. 128).

Redound means “make a great contribution to (one’s credit or advantage, etc.)” or “come as the final result to; come back or recoil upon.”

I was surprised to find so many words I didn’t know in this book, since the first time I read it I didn’t notice them!

What new words have you discovered lately? Share your Wondrous Words.

*Unless otherwise noted, all definitions are from this dictionary.


  1. I can't even pronounce most of those words, let alone define them. Thanks for playing along!

  2. These are great words! I haven't come across new ones in my reading this last week.

  3. It's amazing how many words are "new" when I actually start looking for them.

  4. Redound sounds familiar, but I'm not sure I've seen it before. I do know 'porphyry' though - I majored in geology at university. Can't say I've seen it used in a long time!

  5. "Petechiae." So that's what those things are called. Well, what do you know.

    My words are here.

  6. According to

    Porphyry was highly regarded for its color, since purple was symbolic of high rank and authority. The stone was quarried in Egypt’s eastern desert, near Mons Porphyrites, known today as Gebel Kokham. The raw material was transported overland to Qena, ancient Kainopolis, on the Nile, and then by boat north to Alexandria and then on to Rome. During the Roman Period, the quarries were traditionally understood to have been under the direct control of the emperor. The stone was only sporadically used during the 1st Century A.D., reaching its first peak of use during the reigns of the emperors Trajan 98-117 A.D. and Hadrian 117-138 A.D. and again in the 4th Century.

    ...seems like porphyry was one of the efforts of original imperialism/globalisation! ...but if you ever see it, it's BEAUTIFUL. Dad & I saw a porphyry 'basin' in Rome (5 meters across)...beyond imagination.

  7. Wow, those are all great words. I really like Petechiae - so much prettier sounding than bruise. The only one that I had an idea of was porphyry - I knew it was a sparkly rock but that's about all.

  8. Thanks, everybody, for your comments! This is a fun meme. Makes me pay more attention to words while I'm reading.

    Brogan, thank you for providing additional info about porphyry! I did wonder why the definition was so specific with regards to where and when it was quarried. How fun that you saw some in Rome!