Wondrous Words Wednesday: Sue Monk Kidd II

This week’s words all come from The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd (See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!)


I parked in front of Kat’s gift shop, where Max sat beneath the blue-and-white-striped awning

Awning: n.a sheet of canvas or similar material stretched on a frame and used to shelter a shop window or doorway.

Never heard of this one, though it was clear from the context:

Image by Scoobyfoo on Flickr


Hepzibah was wearing an ebony shift

Shift: n. a straight dress that hangs from the shoulders and is not fitted at the waist.

I didn’t know this meaning at all!


He pointed to a flash of mullet, to several wood storks lifting out of the grass, to an osprey nest perched atop a dead pine.

Mullet: n. a family of ray-finned fish found worldwide in coastal temperate and tropical waters, and in some species in fresh water.

Osprey: n. a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey.

*Both definitions come from Wikipedia

Mullet (image credits by Wikipedia)

Osprey (image credits by Wikipedia)


She was the only person I knew more fearless than Kat, someone who could, if she wanted, clean Kat’s Clock, as they say.

To clean someone’s clock: N. Amer. informal beat or decisively defeat someone.

I’d have never guessed. It would be nice to know how this saying came into use.


The room was painted the color of pluff mud – a rich, fermenting brown – and there were mermaid doodads everywhere.

Doodad: informal an object that the speaker cannot name precisely.

Another one I would never have guessed.


We were going to stand in this little room – no longer suffused in wan, romantic hues but only in ordinary dimness – and use innocuous conversation as a defense.

Wan: adj. (of light) pale; weak

This I had completely misunderstood. I had connected it to “wanton”, but it is not so. I wonder.


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


11 comments on “Wondrous Words Wednesday: Sue Monk Kidd II

  1. A mullet is also the name of a hair cut- short on top, long at the back (although the fish meaning is the one from your sentence). I love the word doodad, haven’t used it in ages, will have to try and use it in the next week for something.

  2. Fun words. I use awning and doodad fairly often. I don’t use “clean someone’s clock” but that’s only because I’m a nice person who wouldn’t do such a thing!

  3. @ Bermudaonion: that’s one thing I liked in this book: words are right for its setting!
    @ Louise: I discovered as much when I checked for images! And today (wonder the chance!) I found a completely unrelated post in my reader where I discovered that it can also be a dress!
    @ Lemon123: I agree!
    @ Bev and Mary Ann: thanks for your comments!
    @ Joy: because you wouldn’t do such a thing or say such a thing? I mean, it’s not impolite or vulgar as a phrase, is it?

  4. I’m a Southern girl – knew all of these. We have many osprey living around here – they build giant nests on top of poles. Once one built a nest by the baseball field and in the middle of the game flew over and dropped a fish out of his mouth into the outfield.

    I loved Sue Monk Kidd’s first book but wasn’t thrilled with Mermaid’s Chair – will have to explore your blog and see what you thought of it.

Ditelo con parole vostre/Let your words be heard

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