Wondrous Words Wednesday: Ken Follett

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 Fall of Giants by Ken Follett.


They were the same height, but Otto was heavier, and bald, and his mustache was the old-fashioned soup-strainer type, whereas Walter had a modern toothbrush.

soup-strainer mustache: n. a mustache that entirely covers the mouth, giving the impression that it acts as a strainer when drinking or eating soup.
*This definition comes from UrbanDictionary

So basically Otto had the same style of mustache as his namesake Bismark, while Walter had the one later made famous by Hitler:

Both images from Wikipedia


“My father is…” He searched for words, something that was unusual for him. “Cock-a-hoop,” he said after a pause.

cock-a-hoop: adj. extremely pleased.


There was a cheval glass in Ethel’s new bedroom.

cheval glass: n. a tall mirror fitted at its middle to an upright frame so that it can be tilted.

Cheval glasses are very nice in a vintage environment, but wall-mounted ones are more functional, and I prefer the latter 🙂

Photo credits: Silk Road Collection on Flickr


The opposing armies sat in their trenches day after day, eating bad food, getting dysentery and trench foot and lice.

trench foot: n. a painful condition of the feet caused by long immersion in cold water or mud and marked by blackening and death of surface tissue.


In the years she had worked there she had come to love the gracious old furniture. She had picked up the names of the piece4s, and learned to recognize a torchère, a buffet, a armoire, or a canterbury. As she dusted and polished she noticed the marquetry, the swags and scrolls, the feet shaped like lions’ paws clasping balls.

torchère: n. a tall ornamental flat-topped stand for holding a candlestick.
canterbury: n. a low open-topped cabinet with partitions for holding music or books.
marquetry: n. inlaid work made from small pieces of variously coloured wood, used chiefly for the decoration of furniture.

Above: examples of a torchère
and of marquetry from
Wikipedia. To the right: a canterbury,
from Antiques on About.com


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


7 comments on “Wondrous Words Wednesday: Ken Follett

  1. I knew trench foot and cheval glass but the rest are new to me. I think I could have figured soup strainer mustache out, but I’ve never heard it. I love it though, and will be sure to use it soon since my husband has just that kind of mustache. It was nice to see you back with words today!!

  2. @ Kathy & Sim: if it were for me, any type of moustache would be abolished 🙂
    @ Lisa: me neither, but the character here did say it with a very straight face!
    @ all: thank you for commenting!

Ditelo con parole vostre/Let your words be heard

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