Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday (March 25)

Kathy at Bermudaonion’s Weblog hosts this weekly meme in which she asks us to share new words we’ve come across in our reading. I’ve just finished reading Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos, so all these words are from that book:

Sectional – “She drifts into the darkened living room and sits back down on the sectional” (p. 279).

A sectional is “a piece of furniture, such as a couch, composed of sections which can be used separately.”* I gathered this from the context, but hadn’t heard the term before.

Introit – “‘Thanks for being here,’ he says. It seems like a harmless enough introit.” (p. 390).

An introit is “a psalm or antiphon sung or said while the priest approaches the altar for the Eucharist, or a choral response used at the start of a worship service.” (I’ve got to wonder if the author is using this word correctly here.)

Peritoneum, mediastinal – “It is not just her muscles that release, but tendons, sinews, cartilage, whatever attaches bone to bone, organ to peritoneum, heart to mediastinal space” (p. 483).

The peritoneum is “the serous membrane lining the cavity of the abdomen,” which is the kind of definition that makes me go huh? (In case, like me, you also need a definition of serous, it means “of or like or producing serum; watery.”) Mediastinal is an adjective referring to the mediastinum, a “membranous middle septum, especially between the lungs.”

Zaftig – “She is absenting herself from the University of Nebraska campus, the responsibilities of summer school teaching, the daily sight of the bronze zaftig women in the sculpture garden” (pp. 492-493).

Zaftig means “plump, having a full, rounded figure.” I’m sure I’ve seen this word before, but I must confessed I didn’t know what it means!

Lingula – “One part of the sky’s canvas has an undulating, edged appearance, like drifted snow or sand dunes; another part has the look of human organs lit from within: balloon-shaped and placental, having a veined appearance, or like marble, or like the oxygenated lingulae of the lungs” (p. 510).

This word is not in my dictionary, but defines it as “a tongue-shaped organ, process or tissue.”

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

*Unless otherwise noted, all definitions are from the Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2004).


  1. I like that Zaftig. Next time my dr says I am overweight, I can say, I beg your pardon, I am zaftig! Love it! THanks for stopping by today.

  2. I love zaftig - that's one I've used before to describe my figure. Very good words!

  3. I recognized the medical terms (that's what comes from teaching comparative anatomy!), but not the rest. Now I'm really curious about introit - I don't think I've ever even seen that word before.

  4. I'm feeling a bit zaftig as we move into pre-swimsuit season :)

  5. Dang, I'm feeling darn smart today...I was only unfamilar with introit!

    Okay--I'm going to take my zaftig self into the kitchen and look for a cookie.....;o)

  6. My in-laws used to have a sectional, so I knew that one. You found some great words last week. Thanks for playing along.

  7. Sectional is the only word I knew on your list. Sounds like you have a challenging-worded book.

  8. Yay, Kaye, me too!

    Thanks, Lisa, I think zaftig is the word of the day!

    Fyrefly, I actually thought it was a typo, but now that I know what it means, I'm a bit perplexed, since that doesn't really fit with the context.

    Dawn, me too!

    Seems like us zaftig women are in good company, Kelly!

    Kathy, we used to have a sectional at home too when I was growing up; I just didn't know that's what it was called!

    Margot, now that I've started doing this meme, I'm actually surprised at how many words I find that I'm not sure of the definition. It's a fun meme!