Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday (April 8)

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 words come from In the Woods by Tana French:

Soupçon – “We mostly shop at Brown Thomas, during the sales, and occasionally come into work wearing embarrassingly identical soupçons” (p. 16).

As far as I know, a soupçon is “a very small amount; a dash or hint,”* but that just doesn’t make sense in this context. I couldn’t find any other definitions online. Does anyone know of an alternate definition for soupçon that could work here?

Bogger – “And that lobotomised bogger knows it” (p. 20).

Bogger isn’t in my dictionary, but according to Wikipedia, it is “an an Irish derisory term for someone not from a city.”

Bespoke – “Few people would have considered her beautiful, but my tastes have always leaned towards bespoke rather than brand-name . . .” (p. 21).

Bespoke, when speaking of goods, especially clothing, means “made to order.”

Jink – “. . . the light jinking off fragments of mica in the rutted ground looked too bright , tricky and fevered” (p. 32).

To jink is to “move elusively; dodge.”

Mattock – “So after the tea break Mark told me and Mel to go up there and mattock it back while the others did the drainage ditch” (p. 54).

A mattock is “an agricultural tool shaped like a pickaxe, with an adze and a chisel edge as the ends of the head.” To mattock, then, presumably means to use such a tool, although the verb is not in my dictionary.

Dote – “Katy was . . . a dote” (p. 70).

According to my dictionary, dote is a verb meaning to “be foolishly or excessively fond of,” a definition I was already familiar with. However, according to Wikipedia, the noun dote is an Irish term meaning “a darling, a cutie.”

Satsuma – “. . . all of us yelling, and Jamie leaping up to fire a spare satsuma as the thing bounded away with a crash of leaves” (p. 147-148).

A satsuma is “a variety of tangerine originally grown in Japan.”

Bowsie – “That Devlin lad used to be a bit of a bowsie . . .” (p. 155).

I couldn’t find bowsie in my dictionary or in Wikipedia, but the Urban Dictionary defines it as “a Dublin term for a scumbag.”

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

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


  1. Wow...that is quite a collection of words you came up with this last week!

  2. You found some great words. I looked for soupcon in our French dictionary and didn't see a meaning that would work in that sentence. The only meaning for dote I knew was the one from your dictionary. Thanks for playing along this week.

  3. Sorry, never heard soupçon used like that before.

  4. You picked a lot of words this week! Must be a challenging book. I'm sorry to be of zero help to you on soupcon.

  5. I took soupçon to mean "bits" in that sentence. Identical bits or pieces, etc.

  6. About half of your words sound like made up words. You know when you hear words that don't sound as if they should be a word.

  7. with all those Irish terms, that book sounds like one I'd be interested in reading...never heard of it before, so thanks for the 'recommend'. I agree with Ti, I took soupcon to mean "small bits", like scarves, or jewelery, or a hat!

    Hope your having a good week, and reading lots of good books...

  8. Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

    For those who tried to figure out what soupçon meant in that context, thank you! In my opinion, it was used improperly, as I don't really see how hats and scarves qualify as "a dash or hint" of something, but I presume that is what French meant!