Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wondrous Words Wednesday 33

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!"    

 Frantically working on a pre-proposal and a conference presentation. Eek. So yet more pot luck words from the past week ...

A quick change of subject is the best slap on the wrist when a gent has allowed the conversation to wander into forbidden purlieus

purlieu \ˈpərl-(ˌ)yü, ˈpər-(ˌ)lü\
1: the area surrounding a place
2: an outlying or adjacent district
3: a frequently visited place : haunt
3 British historical: A tract on the border of a forest, especially one earlier included in it and still partly subject to forest laws.

Origin: Middle English purlewe land severed from an English royal forest by perambulation, from Anglo-French puralé perambulation, from puraler to travel through, measure, from pur- thoroughly + aler to go. First Known Use: 15th century

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"... pointed out the mastery of Van Dyck's portraits, the chiaroscuro of Caravaggio, the bravura designs of Rubens, the sheer magical artistry of Rembrandt." 

chiaroscuro \-ˈskyr-(ˌ)ō\
1:  pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color
2a :  the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts in a pictorial work of art
  b :  the interplay or contrast of dissimilar qualities (as of mood or character)
3:  a 16th century woodcut technique involving the use of several blocks to print different tones of the same color; also :  a print made by this technique
4:  the interplay of light and shadow on or as if on a surface
5:  the quality of being veiled or partly in shadow

Origin:Italian, from chiaro clear, light + oscuro obscure, dark First Known Use: 1686

also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures.

David with the Head of Goliath, 1609–1610, by Caravaggio

Sleeping Cupid, c.1608, by Caravaggio

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"I had in any case intended to pay my devoirs to the vicar today."

devoir  \də-ˈvwär, ˈde-ˌ\
1: duty, responsibility
2 : a usually formal act of civility or respect
 Origin: alteration of Middle English dever, devoir, from Anglo-French, from deveir, devoer to owe, be obliged, from Latin debēre. First Known Use: 14th century

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"A granddaddy pike! Hold it still a moment and I'll gaff it," Albert ordered.

gaff  \ˈgaf\

1 a :  a spear or spearhead for taking fish or turtles
  b :  a handled hook for holding or lifting heavy fish
  c :  a metal spur for a gamecock
  d :  a butcher's hook
  e :  a climbing iron or its steel point used by a telephone lineman 
2:  the spar on which the head of a fore-and-aft sail is extended 
Origin: French gaffe, from Occitan gaf First Known Use: circa 1656 
Vintage gaff
A pole with a sharp hook on the end that is used to stab a large fish and then lift the fish into the boat or onto shore. Ideally, the hook is placed under the backbone. Gaffs are used when the weight of the fish exceeds the breaking point of the fishing line or the fishing pole. A gaff cannot typically be used if it is intended to release the fish unharmed after capture.

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She was wearing a speedwell blue sari with a broad, patterned border of cloth of gold. 

speedwell  \ˈspēd-ˌwel\
 :  a perennial European herb (Veronica officinalis) of the snapdragon family that is naturalized in North America and has small bluish flowers in axillary racemes. (aka Veronica)
First known use: 1578 

Oh, that color blue !

 Happy Wednesday !


  1. I knew gaff only because a gaffer uses them on a movie set. The rest of your words are new to me.

  2. Chiaroscuro is why Northern Renaissance art is probably my favorite. It just pulls me into the painting!

  3. I like the sound of purlieu and devoir. Fancy French gets me every time. (Glad you put the pronunciations in there.)

  4. Mostly new to me too. I knew gaff, but that is the only one. I wish I could figure out how to post the pronounciations of the words I use. Are they called, phonetic marks?


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