Wednesday 27 February 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a lovely meme hosted by Bermuda Onion each week to highlight new (to us) words that we come across in our daily reading.

This week I'm reading The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington for my Classics Club Spin challenge.

It's a lovely old-fashioned read so far, but a few words in particular have puzzled me.

Pg 9: "The house was the pride of the town. Faced with stone as far back as the dinig-room windows, it was a house of arches and turrets and girdling stone porches: it had the first porte-cochere seen in the town."

Girdling: n. (Arch) an ornamental band, especially one surrounding the shaft of a column.

Porte-cochere: n. (Arch.) A large doorway allowing vehicles to drive into or through a building. It is common to have the entrance door open upon the passage of the porte-cochère. Also, a porch over a driveway before an entrance door.

This is the house that Tarkington based the Amberson mansion on - Woodruff Place, Indianapolis. The columns on the porte-cochere have an ornamental band around them!

Pg 54: "...the open window afforded the occupants of the cutter a glimpse of a tired,fine old face, a silk hat, a pearl tie and an astrachan collar, evidently out to take the air."

Astrakhan: n.
1. The curly, wavy wool of young lambs from Astrakhan. A city of southwest Russia on the Volga River delta.
2. A fabric with a curly looped pile, made to resemble this fur.
This is an image from a James Bond movie featuring an astrakhan collar!!

Pg 109: " seemed to flaunt a kind of parvenu ignorance, as if it were actually pleased to be unaware that all the aristocratic and really important families were buried in the old section."

Parvenu: A person from a humble background who has rapidly gained wealth or an influential social position; a nouveau riche; an upstart, a social climber. Generally used with the implication that the person concerned is unsuited to the new social position, esp. through lacking the necessary manners or accomplishments.

Pg 120: "...his thought was that living with a person so sensitive to kindly raillery might prove lugubrious."

Lugubrious: adj. gloomy, mournful or dismal, especially to an exaggerated degree.


  1. The only one I knew was porte-cochere - I still hear it used from time to time here. Thanks for playing along.

  2. I think I've come across most of those words before, well maybe not girdling. Although the only one I could definitely remember was porte- cochere, I remember doing it for a WWW one day- Pollyanna I think it was. They're all great words.

  3. I love that you include the pictures- really helps the meanings sink it. Especially for the architecture terms. Thanks for taking the time to add those.

  4. Anonymous28/2/13

    New and interesting words for me.

  5. Wonderful words this week, and the pictures are a good way to illustrate them. Parvenu is completely new to me.


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