Wondrous Words Wednesday: Tracy Chevalier

This week’s words all come from Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog)


The man poling the boat called out a greeting to me. 

Pole: v. propel (a boat) with a pole.

I could understand this word from the context, but had never heard it as a verb.


I wanted to step into my mother’s kitchen and hand her the pailful of chops.

Pailful: n. the dictionary only says that it’s a derivative of pail, a bucket.

I knew as much. Still, I like this word, sounds poetic to me.


He opened the drawers to the cupboard near his easel and showed me which paints were kept where, naming the colours as he went. I had not heard of many of the words – ultramarine, vermilion, massicot.

Massicot: n. a yellow form of lead monoxide, used as a pigment.


I came to love grinding the things he brought from the apothecary – bones, white lead, madder, massicot – to see how bright and pure I could get the colours.

Madder:n. 1 a plant related to the bedstraws, with roots that yield a red dye. [Rubia tinctorum and other species.] 2 a red dye or pigment obtained from the madder plant.


With his palette knife he began to mix the oil and the white lead together until the paint was like butter that has been left out in a warm kitchen

Palette knife: n. a thin steel blade with a handle for mixing colours or applying or removing paint.


While she was upstairs I had basted the pheasant and sprinkled it with salt.

Baste: v. pour fat or juices over (meat) during cooking.


(All definitions are taken from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 via WordReference.com)


5 comments on “Wondrous Words Wednesday: Tracy Chevalier

  1. I used to work for an artist so I knew palette knife. I’ve never seen pole used as a verb either and I find it interesting that they carried chops in a pail.

Ditelo con parole vostre/Let your words be heard

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