Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) and interesting (to us, again) words we encountered in our readings. See this week round-up at BermudaOnion’s blog!
My words for this week come from Bleak House by Charles Dickens, which I am reading for a read-a-long hosted at Unputdownables.net — and as could be expected, Dickens’ writing is full of interesting words!
The old gentleman is conducted by a Mercury in powder to my Lady’s presence.
I wasn’t able to find a definition for this usage of “Mercury”. I imagine, as Mercury was a messenger-god, the meaning is of messenger. If anyone has any other input, please share!
A whisper still goes about that she had not even family; howbeit, Sir Leicester had so much family that perhaps he had enough and could dispense with any more.
Howbeit: adv. archaic nevertheless
She supposes herself to be an inscrutable Being, quite out of the reach and ken of ordinary mortals.
Ken: n. (one’s ken) one’s range of knowledge or sight.
… while a milkman and a beadle, with the kindest intentions possible, were endeavouring to drag him back.
Beadle: n. Brit. 1 a ceremonial officer of a church, college, or similar institution 2 historical a minor parish officer dealing with petty offenders.
He wold immediately have been pushed into the area if I had not held his pinafore.
Pinafore: n. a collarless, sleeveless dress worn over a blouse or jumper.
Nobody had appeared belonging to the house except a person in pattens, who had been poking at the child from below with a broom.
Patten: n. historical a shoe or clog having a raised sole or set on an iron ring, worn to raise the feet above wet ground.
Her dress didn’t nearly meet up the back and the open space was railed across with a lattice-work of stay-lace.
Stay-lace: n. a corset lace
*This definition comes from Merriam-Webster.com
Some of the inscriptions I have enumerated were written in law-hand
Law-hand: n. a style of handwriting used in old legal documents, especially in England.
*This definition comes from Dictionary.com
All the other children got up behind the barouche and fell off.
Barouche: n. historical a four-wheeled horse-drawn carriage with a collapsible hood over the rear half.
(All definitions are taken from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary © 2008 via WordReference.com unless otherwise stated.)