Wondrous Words Wednesday: Ellen Crosby

This week’s words all come from Merlot Murders by Ellen Crosby. There were plenty of words for me to check in this book. Here are just the ones I found most interesting. And I’m leaving all wine-related words for next week’s post! (See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!)


The massive bank of lavender along one side of the pool was dark and dense against a blue-black sky filled with windblown stars.

windblown: adj. blown by the wind; especially having a permanent set or character of growth determined by the prevailing winds: windblown trees
*Definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online

I did know this definition, but I don’t really see how it could be applied at the stars. Unless it’s to say that the sky was windblown, making the stars shine clearer?


“Well, yes,” she said, “but I just hired two new girls and they’re a little green behind the ears.”

to be green behind the ears: to be inexperienced.
*I didn’t find any real definition, but check this text about color symbolysm and also this discussion.

Anyway, this was clear from the context.


His eyes were sparrow-bright and twinkling

sparrow-bright: ?????

I didn’t find anything at all about this one 😦 If you know, can you please share?


As I tripped, I knocked into one of the torches. It went down with me and hit the ground as I did, sending sparks shooting like a miniature Catherine wheel.

Catherine wheel: n. Brit. a firework in the form of a spinning coil.

I wouldn’t have known this one in Italian either. I know fireworks, but not their specific names. And here’s how a Catherine wheel looks in action:

(Photo credits: Michael Keen on Flickr)


Yellow jackets, excited by the newly released sugar liquid, dive-bombed us and strafed the vines.

yellow jacket: n. N. Amer. informal a wasp or hornet

I knew it was an insect, just what kind of an insect was a mystery to me. I was thinking about may bugs, instead they are like this:

(Photo credits: Wikipedia)


You’re bound to scandalize the blue-rinse crowd and kock a few peacemakers out of kilter.

blue-rinse (brigade): elderly middle class women

See this explanation on Wikipedia.


Dust bunnies the size of small boulders rolled across the floor like tumbleweed in the prairie.

tumbleweed: n. N. Amer. & Austral./NZ a plant of arid regions which breaks off near the ground in late summer, forming light spherical masses blown about by the wind. [Several species in the genera Salsola and Amaranthus.]

OK, of course I knew what tumbleweed are! But I suddenly felt the need to look up the definition and discover what kind of plants creates that phenomenon. And I wanted an excuse to share this video…


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


4 comments on “Wondrous Words Wednesday: Ellen Crosby

  1. I’ve seen windblown used to describe stars and have never really understood it either. Don’t even get me started on yellow jackets – they are a pain around here. Thanks for participating!

  2. All your new words are so bright and colorful. It must be an interesting book. I look forward to the words about wine next week.

Ditelo con parole vostre/Let your words be heard

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