This week’s words all come from The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!)
A half-dozen great white egrets flew up from the marsh grass nearby with their low-pitched throat calls.
Egret: n. a heron with mainly white plumage, having long plumes in the breeding season. [Genus Egretta (and Bubulcus): several species.]
I knew it was a bird, but what kind of bird exactly? This kind (image courtesy of Wikipedia):
The abbot spoke in his Irish brogue, not one bit of it flaked away after all these years.
Brogue: n. a marked accent, especially Irish or Scottish, when speaking English.
And it can also mean “a rough shoe of untanned leather, formerly worn in Ireland and the Scottish Highlands”. You can see the link, right? Awful!
He flipped his cowl over his head and crossed the central cloister.
Cowl: n. a large loose hood forming part of a monk’s habit.
I could understand this from the context, picturing it like this (again from Wikipedia):
A whip-poor-will sang out.
Whip-poor-will: n. a medium-sized nightjar from North and Central America [Caprimulgus vociferus]
*This definition comes from Wikipedia
Again, a bird, as I understood from the context. This one (from Wikipedia):
I’d thought of her as the nettlesome monastery mascot, but perhaps she was more to them than that.
Nettlesome: adj. chiefly US causing annoyance or difficulty.
This is one I would never have guessed.
It was piled with stalks of coral, crab claws, sea sponges, lightning whelks, shark eyes, augers, jackknife clams.
Lightning whelk: n. an edible species of very large predatory sea snail or whelk, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Buccinidae, the busycon whelks [Busycon contrarium]
Auger: n. [any of] a group or taxonomic family of small to large predatory sea snails, marine gastropod mollusks. [I think it refers to this, the Auger shell, not to the tool]
Jackknife clam: n. a long, smooth-shelled, burrowing clam found on Atlantic and Pacific beaches [Ensis minor]
*All three definitions come from Wikipedia
Pictures! From Wikipedia! (You could see this coming, right?)
My steps slowed until I was just standing there, stymied with doubt.
Stymie: v. informal prevent or hinder the progress of.
Oh my, I had read this in Tribute Books Mama‘s Wondrous Words Wednesdays just last week, but I only realized I had after reading the definition and etymology! What can I say, you have to learn a word seven times and forget it again seven times before it stays with you forever!
(All definitions are taken from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 via WordReference.com unless otherwise stated.)