Wondrous Words Wednesday: Diane Noble

This week’s words all come from The Last Storyteller by Diane Noble. (See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!)


While sitting in the back row, teetering his chair against the wall, he saw the waiflike coed enter the room.

Waif: n. a homeless and helpless person, especially a neglected or abandoned child. A person who appears thin or poorly nourished.

Coed: n. N. Amer. dated a female student at a co-educational institution.

I didn’t know either, but while waiflike I could guess, coed (or co-ed, according to the dictionary) I could not.


Would you like a few slices of marinated ahi and sticky rice?

Ahi: n. (in Hawaii) a large tuna, especially as an item of food.

I had also never heard of sticky rice. A quick Google search offered this recipe. Doesn’t sound much like my cup of tea, though. Marinated ahi sounds better — and it looks better, too:



Soda crackers were the age-old remedy for morning sickness.

According to Wikipedia, a soda cracker can also be called a saltine, and the author uses this word as well, but I cannot find the passage now. I didn’t know either — although I love the crackers!

Saltine: n. N. Amer. a thin crisp savoury biscuit baked with salt sprinkled on its surface.



Brother Cadwallen planted his crook in the spongy soil beside the boggy mere.

Crook:n. a shepherd’s hooked staff. A bishop’s crozier.

Something like this:



Doc nodded and explained about the skin-to-skin contact with a preemie, and she lay back against her pillow, imagining her little one.

Preemie: n.N. Amer. informal a baby born prematurely.

Nice word! I like the sound!


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


14 comments on “Wondrous Words Wednesday: Diane Noble

  1. People who use co-ed in the US are kind of dating themselves, since it’s not used that much these days. Having said that, I use it all the time. Thanks for playing along!

  2. Great words. I still see co-ed (with the hyphen) used but in a kind of humorous way, with the recognition that now that women hold their own in universities it’s not really appropriate to use any word but “student” to define them.

  3. @Bermudaonion: which makes me curious about the dating: what was the timeframe when it was used?

    @Joy: I see… but it’s not used like that at all in the book. Wondering.

    @Tea Norman: not me either, but I’d love to try.

  4. I find many of my words for this meme are words that are foreign to me. It’s very interesting to see the words that a new when English is the foreign language.

    How funny that I have Saltines on my dinner table right now. One of the little girls I watch has been loving to eat them these days so they’re always on my counter or table.

  5. Oh, I have to add. I looked up the translation for your blog name and I love it. Scribbling is what my daughter and I say we’re doing when we’re writing and I call her a scribbler when she’s doing her school work.

  6. You found lots of interesting words this week. I actually knew most of them because I’m, well, old. Coed and soda crackers are old ways of saying those things. By the way, soda crackers are still the best remedy for a queasy stomach whether caused by pregnancy, too much booze, or spicy foods.

  7. @Martha: thank you. I have often wondered how “Scribacchina” would translate in English, but I have never been able to find an answer. Scribbler is an option, sure. The problem is, it’s a somewhat negative word in Italian, but the name was given to me in affectionate mock (can I say that?) by a friend, so it’s not negative at all…

    @Margot: I never thought that one could tell the age of a person by the words they use — but I won’t say you’re old… let’s rather say you are wise 😉 (and thank you for the life lesson about soda crackers)

  8. I loved finding words from my book discussed here! It’s been a few years since the book published and I’d forgotten the context of the words. As I read through your word list, I recalled where the words fit into scenes or dialogue. Sweet memories. The Last Storyteller was one of my favorite books to write.
    Blessings to all!
    Diane Noble

  9. Oh my, oh my, a comment by the author herself! Now I feel important! 🙂
    Thank you for your comment, Diane! I should be publishing my (sort of) review this week, feel free to chime in if you like!

  10. Love seeing English from your point of view. It does help knowing the Latin basis for some of our English words. I took a class in high school called Latin Derivatives that did just that–showed us where so many of words came from. It’s been very useful for helping me figure out words that are unfamiliar when the context isn’t real clear and no dictionary is handy.

    I’m late to the party this week. But finally got mine up: http://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2011/03/wondrous-words-wednesday-on-thursday.html

Ditelo con parole vostre/Let your words be heard

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