Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday 20

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!

I am reading at night, but haven't gotten many reviews done latel - hopefully I can catch some up soon. I have jotted down a few words but neglected to cite the sources so first I have a couple of words that I don't even remember where I saw them ...

"Ready to absquatulate all the dragons and rescue you.”


to decamp; to move on; to depart in a hurry

Origin: mid 19th century: blend, simulating a Latin form, of abscond, squattle 'depart', and perambulate.

... as a writer in the old Vanity Fair magazine in 1875 elaborated: “They dusted, vamosed the ranch, made tracks, cut dirt, hoed it out of there”.

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Okay - I know that I wrote this one down simply because I have always loved how it rolls off the tongue...

A secret dungeon with access only through a trapdoor in its ceiling.
Origin: late 18th century: from French, from oublier 'forget'.

I would imagine that lots of people know this word from the movie Labyrinth

So, looking for an image of a real oubliette, I have found that apparently the one at Leap Castle (pronounced “Lep”) in County Offaly, Ireland, has somehow become the most famous - via appearances in various ghost chasers television shows.

If you are interested in ghost stories, there appear to be a ton for Leap Castle. According to one website the oubliette was discovered in 1922 in the corner of a chapel - still full to the brim with skeletons.

Right - horrible reality, still an evocative sounding word. 

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Now to some words that I know where I read them, The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester ...

In Victorian London, even in a place as louche and notoriously crime-ridden as Lambeth Marsh, the sound of gunshots was a rare event indeed.

Disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way
Origin early 19th century: from French, literally 'squinting'.

Okayyy - failing to see how crime ridden slums are rakish or appealing.

Lower Fore Street, a narrow cobblestoned street in Lambeth, pictured in 1865. This industrial area became very densely populated over the Victorian period; its inhabitants rose from 28,000 in 1801 to nearly 300,000 by the time this photograph was taken.
Picture: 'Dickens's Victorian London' by Alex Werner and Tony Williams (source)
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So when a brief fusillade of three revolver shots rang out shortly after two o'clock on the moonlit Saturday morning of February 17, 1872, the sound was unimagined, unprecedented and shocking.

/ˈfyo͞osəˌläd, -ˌlād /
noun: A series of shots fired or missiles thrown all at the same time or in quick succession
archaic verb: Attack (a place) or shoot down (someone) by a series of shots fired at the same time or in quick succession.
Origin early 19th century: from French, from fusiller 'to shoot', from fusil

I did basically know what the word meant, but it seemed repetitive as presented in the sentence so I wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing some subtlety here ... turns out that actually Winchester is rather flowery and repetitive, which can be fun or annoying depending on your mood.  

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This isn't a word per say but a thing in the book that made my mind go boink ...
the London Necropolis Railway 

London's population more than doubled in the first half of the 19th century, but the amount of space preserved for cemeteries did not keep pace. Grave were being 'reused' with the former residents dumped unceremoniously about the place and bodies were also being absconded with by 'resurrectionists.' Then came the 1848-49 cholera epidemic that killed almost 15,000 people. 

To deal with this problem, Sir Richard Broun proposed buying land in Brockwood for a huge new cemetery - dubbed “London's Necropolis” and using the railway from Waterloo to  Southampton to transport coffins and funeral parties there. London Necropolis Railway opened in November 1854 and service lasted until the night of 16–17 April 1941, when the London terminus was badly damaged in an air raid and rendered unusable. There are some amazing articles about it kicking around the web if you are interested.

Entrance to Necropolis Station, Waterloo, London, 1890

BTW - if you are confused about the connection, Waterloo station is in Lambeth and was famous for being ramshackle, confusing and, unlike other major stations, downright ugly.

Jerome K Jerome's even takes a jab at it in his 1889 comic novel, Three Men in a Boat. The protagonists were wandering around the station trying to find their train:

We got to Waterloo at eleven, and asked where the eleven-five started from. Of course nobody knew; nobody at Waterloo ever does know where a train is going to start from, or where a train when it does start is going to, or anything about it. The porter who took our things thought it would go from number two platform, while another porter, with whom he discussed the question, had heard a rumour that it would go from number one. The station-master, on the other hand, was convinced it would start from the local.  

To put an end to the matter, we went upstairs, and asked the traffic superintendent, and he told us that he had just met a man, who said he had seen it at number three platform.  We went to number three platform, but the authorities there said that they rather thought that train was the Southampton express, or else the Windsor loop.  But they were sure it wasn’t the Kingston train, though why they were sure it wasn’t they couldn’t say.

You get the idea. 

Well this was a rather morbid entry - bet you all liked it better when I rambled on about food. I will try to be reading something less dark next week.


  1. I learned so much from your post, thanks! Hadn't heard of an oubliette before.

  2. I knew oublier but have never heard oubliette. It's kind of scary to think they meant for those rooms to be forgotten. Great words today!

  3. Didn't know any of those words. Enjoyed the definitions and the photographs. The street and the population during the Industrial War is really interesting. Thanks for all your time looking up the words.


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