Wondrous Words Wednesday 02•25•09

It’s that time again, Wondrous Words Wednesday, where we gather together and share our brand spanking new vocabulary. If you’ve stumbled over any words in your reading and found yourself reaching for a handy-dandy dictionary, hop over to BermudaOnion's Weblog and mention your newly learned words. Or just take a peek at all the Wondrous Words that had everyone else confuddled :P


Here are the words I’ve added to my vocabulary from this week’s reading:

• hyperesthesia

Source – From the short story The Great God Pan by M. John Harrison
Usage – “I was left with an embarrassment, a ghost, a hyperesthesia of middle age.”
Definition – An abnormal, unusual or pathological increase in sensitivity to sensory stimuli, as of the skin to touch or the ear to sound. Also called oxyesthesia.

• sylphy 

Source – Found in The Crazy School by Cornelia Read 
Usage – “Sitzman took me up on it and for a second I thought LeChance would, too, but Fay Perry peeked around the doorway at him, all sylphy and golden, with those enormous gray eyes.” 
Definition – I couldn’t find a definition for this exact word, perhaps the more correct version would of been sylph-like. Anyway here is what I found for sylph: a slender, graceful woman or girl or (in folklore) one of a race of supernatural beings supposed to inhabit the air.

• prestidigitation

Source – Found in Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic 
Usage – “In an act of prestidigitation typical of the way my father juggled his public appearance and private reality, the evidence is simultaneously hidden and revealed.”
Definition – Performance of or skill in performing magic or conjuring tricks with the hands; sleight of hand; deceitful cleverness.

That last word “Prestidigitation” bothers me, because I was taught to take words apart to define them, and once the definition is found it becomes so obvious from the “digitation” part. But try as I may, I can never remember this one. Anyone else have any words they feel they should know the definition of, but can’t remember when the time comes?

© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.


Serena said...

prestidigitation, that is a mouthful!

Great words!

naida said...

I dont know why, I dont like the word 'sylphy' lol. It seems like those letters dont belong next to each other.

bermudaonion said...

Oh, I love sylphy. I wonder if I can fit that into a sentence. Thanks for playing along.

Jeane said...

I'm actually glad 'prestidigitation' is not in my vocabulary, because it would probably tangle my tongue trying to say it!

Smilingsal said...

Good words you've found. Thanks.

Cornelia Read said...

Thank you for mentioning "sylphy." I wanted to use sylph, but figured I had to make it a little more informal for the voice of the character. The two Y's together in the word do look a little odd, though, if you stare at it long enough.

Anonymous said...

Most words look a little odd and sound a little odd if you stare at it or say it over and over and over. Commit me now.

That last word is deceitfully clever.