Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday (July 22)

Wondrous Words Wednesday button
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. Feel free to join in the fun.

All my words this week are from Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter.

Pescatarian – “The pescatarians were shoving ceviche into their faces” (p. 138).

According to Merriam-Webster, a pescatarian (or pescetarian) is “one whose diet includes fish but no meat.” The funny thing is that I’m a pescatarian and I didn’t even know it! (Since I started eating fish again, I’ve always just called myself a vegetarian-who-eats-fish, not realizing there was a more specific term.) According to Wikipedia, pescetarian is a portmanteau of the Italian word pesce (meaning fish) and vegetarian.

MetateMetate – “But I didn’t have a metate, the traditional stone grinder that Native Americans used, and I wasn’t about to destroy my electric coffee grinder” (p. 140).

Since the author explains what this is, I thought I’d provide a picture of one (courtesy of Wikipedia).

Brix – “‘The brix is at twenty-six,’ he said, referring to the sugar levels, and smiled” (p. 142).

According to Wikipedia, brix is a “measurement of the dissolved sugar-to-water mass ratio of a liquid. . . . [It] is primarily used in fruit juice, wine making and the sugar industry.”

Cathepsin – “If we had let the ducks rest for twenty-four hours, according to McGee, enzymes called cathepsins would have broken down the bound filaments, making the meat tender” (p. 158).

As the author mentions, cathepsins are “proteases: proteins that break apart other proteins, found in many types of cells, including those of other animals.” (See this Wikipedia definition for more details.)

Traducer – “In her book Framing the Black Panthers, historian Jane Rhodes describes on of these cartoons, which had the caption: ‘A Pig is an ill-natured beast who has no respect for law and order, a foul traducer who’s usually found masquerading as a victim of an unprovoked attack’” (p. 197).

A traducer is one who “speaks ill of; misrepresents.”* (And Rhodes is referring to cops, not farm animals!)

Eminent domain – “Then came BART, which used eminent domain to raze hundreds of homes and businesses” (p. 198).

According to Wikipedia, eminent domain is “is the inherent power of the state to seize a citizen’s private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen’s rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner’s consent.” (This is an American term; in Canada, it is simply known as expropriation.)

Prolifacy – “‘There were strength of character, ruggedness, prolifacy and the ability to put on pounds of pork on forage and concentrated feed’” (p. 202).

I couldn’t find a definition for prolifacy anywhere; Google suggested I was looking for prolificacy instead which means “great fertility,” according to the Wiktionary. I suspect these two words are synonyms. Does anybody else know for sure?

This book also introduced me to a bunch of plants I’d never heard of: penstemon, pellitory, chayote, perilla, cardoon and piri-piri (another name for African birdseye peppers).

What new words have you discovered lately? Share your Wondrous Words on Kathy’s blog.

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


  1. Very useful words this week, especially for you. Now you can introduce your eating habits with one word and not a whole sentence. Of course you'll have to use whole sentences to explain your new word. Oh, well.

  2. Wow-these are some great words this week, and they are all new to me!

  3. The only word I knew was eminent domain and that's only because I read LIttle Pink House. I thought I'd read that it's called something else in Canada. Thanks for participating!