Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday 40

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!"

Man, I have been so busy that I haven't been able to play for weeks now. Not the best 'words', but hopefully of some interest ...

From The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey

rose sinking bit  - the book makes rather a big deal out of the fact that the thief dropped a rose bit. I wanted to figure out what it was. (this was a pain since these search terms give you about a bazillion pages about the movie Titanic.)

A rose sinking bit or rosehead countersink is a type of drill bit used to recess screw-heads into wood or metal so that the top of the screw is flush with the surface. Rose head bits have multiple straight cutting surfaces (originally 9?) that radiate out from a point. They can be used for both metal or wood.

Well, that was a pain in the tush, and I still have no idea why this was such a big deal in the book.  It doesn't appear that they are at all rare or unusual. Sounds like the kind of bit you would expect a thief to have if they planned on drilling into metal bars.  Odd.

The titular Secret Rooms are not actually secret at all (this isn't a spoiler, you figure it out pretty quickly since they are labeled on the map provided in the first few pages of the book). They are more properly called the Muniment Rooms - a term that I had to look up.

muniment \ˈmyü-nə-mənt\
1 : the evidence (as documents) that enables one to defend the title to an estate or a claim to rights and privileges —usually used in plural 
2 : A document or record, especially one kept in an archive.
3 archaic :  a means of defense

Origin: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin munimentum, from Latin, defense, safeguard, from munire to fortify
First Known Use: 15th century

From Black's Law Dictionary via wikipedia - Muniment or Muniment of Title is a legal term for a document, or other evidence, that indicates ownership of an asset. The word is derived from munimentum, the Latin word for a defensive fortification. In other words, "muniments of title" means the written evidence which a land owner can use to defend title to his estate

I still had the archaic means of defense/fortification idea stuck in my head, which wasn't really making sense.

I suspect that the publishers didn't think the book would sell as well if it were titled The Muniment Rooms which I can understand. I still think they should have called it the Secrets (plural) Room(s) (the five rooms held secrets buried in all those documents.)

Finally - I just have time to sneak in sybaritic. 

syb·a·rit·ic /'sibəˈritik/
adjective: sybaritic
fond of sensuous luxury or pleasure; self-indulgent.
"their opulent and sybaritic lifestyle"

syb·a·rite \ˈsi-bə-ˌrīt\
1 : [from the notorious luxury of the Sybarites] :  voluptuary, sensualist
2 : capitalized :  a native or resident of the ancient city of Sybaris

From Wikipedia:
Sybaris (Ancient Greek: Σύβαρις; Italian: Sibari) was an important city of Magna Graecia. It was situated on the Gulf of Taranto between two rivers, the Crathis (Crati) and the Sybaris (Coscile).

The city was founded in 720 BC by Achaean and Troezenian settlers. Sybaris amassed great wealth thanks to its fertile land and busy port. Its inhabitants became famous among the Greeks for their hedonism, feasts, and excesses, to the extent that "sybarite" and "sybaritic" have become bywords for opulent luxury and outrageous pleasure-seeking. 

So - interesting term to apply to a chunk of the British aristocracy during WWI. Yuck.  

Um, usually I try to include pictures/illustrations/photos for my stuff but since I am trying to keep this website mostly PG, I think I have to skip it this time. 

How about the ancient ruins of Sybaris instead ... 



  1. I always enjoy coming to your blog on Wondrous Word Day. Rose bit makes me think of an herb for some reason.

    1. Thanks! I always have such fun with these posts.
      I can see that - sounds like a small bit of rosemary. It certainly sounds like it should be something more interesting than an average drill bit.

  2. Neither the OH or I heard of rose sinking bits or rosehead. When I showed him the definition here, of course he knew straight away being a DIY fanatic. Muniment, not sure if I have come across before but it makes sense.


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