Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) and interesting (to us, again) words we encountered in our readings. See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!
This week I bring you mu fourth and last (finally ) harvest of words from Bleak House by Charles Dickens.
They tended their locks severely in buckram and powder
buckram: n. coarse linen or other cloth stiffened with paste, used as interfacing and in bookbinding.
I find this curious, because this is a character describing the portraits of a noble house, and even if he is describing them as shepherdesses, the “coarse linen” sound out of place. The whole description is a bit strange, though, and goes on like this:
and put their sticking-plaster patches on to terrify commoners as the chefs of some other tribes put on their war-paint.
So I guess the strange tone is part of it.
… says Richard, sitting down again with an impatient laugh and beating the devil’s tattoo with his boot on the patternless carpet
tattoo: n. 1 an evening drum or bugle signal recalling soldiers to their quarters 2 Brit. a military display consisting of music, marching, and exercises 3 a rhythmic tapping or drumming.
Actually, did you know that this is the first meaning for tattoo?
… to have to do with you is to have to do with a man of business who is not to be hoodwinked.
to hoodwink: v. deceive or trick
The Indiaman was our great attraction because she had come into the downs in the night.
Indiaman: n. historical a ship engaged in trade with India or the East or West Indies, especially an East Indiaman.
Apart from debts and duns and all such drawbacks, I am not fit even for this employment.
to dun: v. to importune (a debtor) for payment
dun: n. 1 one that duns 2 an importunate demand for payment.
*This definition comes from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language via TheFreeDictionary.com
So I guess he means “all the debts and all the creditors asking for payment”.
… two young ladies are occasionally found gambolling in sequestered saw-pits and such nooks of the park.
gambol: v. run or jump about playfully.
(All definitions are taken from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 via WordReference.com unless otherwise stated.)