Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday (April 15)

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. These are the last of the words I found in In the Woods by Tana French:

Epithelial – “So no epithelials, either” (p. 217).

The epithelium is “the tissue forming the outer layer of the body surface and lining many hollow structures.”*

Hurley – “My desk in school, old deep-grained wood with an obsolete hole in the top for an inkwell, worn shiny and inlaid with years of doodles: a hurley stick, a heart with the initials inside scribbled over . . .” (p. 243).

Hurley is “an Irish game somewhat resembling field hockey, played with broad stick.”

Exegesis – “We gave him an elaborate exegesis of what we had done to find Katy Devlin’s killer, and why it hadn’t worked” (p. 265).

An exegesis is a “critical explanation of a text, especially of Scripture.” (Hmm, not sure that’s the right word in this context...)

Witter – “What are you wittering about now?” (p. 273).

To witter means to “speak tediously and at length on trivial matters.” I could figure out what the word meant from the context, but I don’t think I’d ever seen or heard it before.

Gurrier – “‘Little gurriers,’ Mrs Fitzgerald said with relish” (p. 302).

No sign of this word in either my dictionary or Wikipedia, but the Urban Dictionary provides several definitions along the same lines: a gurrier is “a Dublin scumbag,” “a corner-boy or hooligan” or “Irish slang for a not very nice person.” Again, this one wasn’t too hard to figure out from the context!

Banjax – “‘If that motorway doesn’t go through Knocknaree, and fast,’ Sam said succinctly, ‘the boy’s banjaxed’” (p. 346).

To banjax means to “ruin, incapacitate.”

Langer – “‘Hang on, Is he langered?’ Cassie asked” (p. 349).

Langer is not in my dictionary and Wikipedia defines it as either a “fool; idiot; annoying or contemptible person (usually male)” or as slang for penis, neither of which applies here. The Urban Dictionary again came to the rescue, defining it as a word of Cork origin with several meanings depending on the context including “to be intoxicated,” which is clearly what Cassie means here.

Votary – “She must have thought, sometimes, of her namesake, the votary branded with her god’s most inventive and sadistic curse: to tell the truth, and never to be believed” (p. 427).

A votary is “a devoted follower of a religion, deity, or cult, especially one who is bound, by vow, to the worship of God; or a devoted follower, adherent or advocate of a person, cause, occupation, or pursuit.”

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

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


  1. Great words. I think my favorite is witter.

  2. I love witter, too - maybe because I tend to do it at times. I'm going to try to use that one tonight. Thanks for playing along.

  3. I am thrilled to discover so many words I didn't know! These are absolutely fascinating.

    Meanwhile, I only have one word today.

  4. I really like the word "langer". It seems like a good one to randomly use in conversations.

  5. Witter seems like a word that I would actually use quite a bit. Thanks for sharing these!

  6. I'll make it unanimous - witter is this week's favorite. It's a word I can use right now. Lots of good words this week.

  7. Ah ha! My husband witters all the time! Maybe if I tell him to stop wittering, it'll shush him for a few minutes. =)

    Thanks for telling me about Free Dictionary. I used and your definition of gaff didn't come up in my search.

  8. Witter is the winner this week! Thanks, everybody, for your comments!

    Kylee, you're very welcome!