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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

Wondrous Words Wednesday


‘Wondrous Words Wednesday’ is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we have encountered in our reading.

It is hosted by Kathy, over at BermudaOnion’s Weblog. You can either stop by and leave a link to your own ‘mystery’ words of the week, or just browse the eclectic mix of words that others have discovered, there is always a great selection.

Don’t forget that Kathy and the rest of us, all love to read your comments  as well!!


This is a second helping of words from ‘His Chosen Bride’ by Sherry Gloag


‘… Would make tonight’s plans less straightforward, but not scupper them completely.’

SCUPPER 1. An opening in the side of a ship at deck level to allow water to run off.

                            2. An opening for draining off water, as from a floor or the roof of a building.

                            3. To overwhelm or massacre.

                            4. To ruin or destroy

I knew a couple of the definitions for this word, however there are also a couple of new definitions to me, more opportunities to use the word in conversation now!



Her attempt at hauteur failed, sabotaged by another laugh.’

HAUTEUR (French in origin) … Haughtiness in bearing and attitude; arrogance.

This one I could probably have guessed at, but I looked it up just to be sure. Don’t some words just sound so much more ???? in French.



‘ … That is so unlike my phlegmatic brother, I nearly choked with laughter.’

PHLEGMATIC1. Of or relating to phlegm; phlegmy.

                                         2. Having or suggesting a calm, sluggish temperament; unemotional; stolid

                                         3. Not easily excited.


I knew the first definition of this word, but couldn’t see just how that fit in with the sentiment of the sentence. The other definitions were new to me.



‘What was all that caterwauling about?’

CATERWAULING 1. To cry or screech like a cat in heat.

                                      2. To make a shrill, discordant sound.
                                      3. To have a noisy argument.
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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • I knew hauteur and caterwauling but the others were new to me. I know phlegm and, like you, thought phlegmatic might be related. The meaning you highlighted is new to me. Thanks for playing along!

    • Hi Kathy,

      I don’t think that I shall be trying to drop ‘phlegmatic’ into the conversation anytime soon, it still sounds disgusting, whatever new meaning I have discovered for it!

      Thanks for being a great host.

  • Phlegmatic is one of the four humours (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humorism) used to describe human temperaments, so I know that use of it. Sanguine is the only humour word that isn’t kind of gross since they’re all based on body fluids.

    My mother used caterwauling as in, “Quit that caterwauling!” 🙂

    The rest were knew to me — thanks!

    • Hi Joy,

      Thanks for that great link, and there was me just about to go and start dinner!

      The coloured boxes in the chart on the right of the page were enough to finish me off, without the graphic descriptions below.

      Even worse when I discovered that I am probably ‘Black Bile’ and ‘Yellow Bile’ ….!!

      Probably the most commonly used of my words, here in the UK, is ‘scuppered’, which would probably be used in the context of a third party or element ‘scuppering’ your chances of completing or achieving something.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving such an interesting comment, I appreciate the time and trouble.

    • Hi Jenners,

      Same here, that is the only definition I knew for ‘phlegmatic’ too, I had no idea of its other uses.

      I can only visualise one concept for the word as well, although if you read the comment by ‘Joy Weese Moll’, the images conjured up by the word are horrendous and slightly nauseating.

      There are just too many words in the English language with silent letters which are not pronounced, and getting them all in the correct order when writing the word always has me thinking hard.

      A lot of people advocate writing and spelling exactly as you speak, although that doesn’t really work all that well in practice either, so my brain is going to continue to be taxed to its limit, as I try to remember my school day spellings.

      Thanks for the visit and comment.

  • I knew these(!) except for scupper! I will try to use that one in a sentence sometime today. Maybe I will throw it in when I am talking to the kids and see if they notice. 😉

    • Hi Libby,

      ‘Scupper’ is a word which is still quite widely used, here in the UK, (although I only knew of one definition for it ). However youngsters would probably view it as quite an old fashioned word and one which I guess will soon disappear, like so many others.

      It would be interesting to know the results of casually throwing the word into a conversation and then having to explain what it means, when you get the blank looks which are sure to follow!

      Thanks for stopping by with your thoughts.

  • I knew caterwauling, phlegmatic and hauteur sound familiar, but don’t think I’ve ever heard scupper before.

    His Chosen Bride sounds like a book you need to read with a dictionary close by.

    • Hi Vicki,

      ‘His Chosen Bride’ is written by a Scots author, so many of the words from last week’s WWW reflected that. This week’s words are again probably more widely used here in the UK, although the alternative definition for ‘phlegmatic’, was the one that had me scratching my head.

      ‘Scupper’ is probably the word which is still used most generally today, although once again, I didn’t know of the alternative definitions regarding water drainage.

      My review of the book will be posted over the weekend and I did really enjoy it, both for its storyline and for the quality and style of writing.

      Thanks for taking part in what has turned into a very interesting discussion.

  • I knew all your words today, a rare feat. I do love scupper and caterwauling, they’re such wonderful words, I didn’t know the other meanings of scupper though- there’s always more to learn about our wondrous words isn’t there?

    • Hi Louise,

      I haven’t heard ‘caterwauling’ used for ages, although I think that this is a word more prevelant to the North of the country, rather than way down here in the South.

      ‘Scupper’ I use quite often and no-one has yet mentioned ‘hauteur’, which I think is a fantstic word, although not easily used in general conversation.

      Contrary to my husband’s thoughts, reading fiction is constantly expanding my horizons and educating me, in so many different ways. This meme is such a great way of sharing some of that new found information, or sharing words with people from other parts of the world, where my words may be unknown to them, or known as something else with an entirely different meaning.

      Thanks for the visit, I loved your post this week … in a purely esoteric way of course!!! Check it out folks, but make sure that you have finished eating first!!!

  • Isn’t the English language an amazing thing? Whoever said, “”English is a language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up other languages and rifles through their pockets for spare vocabulary” is completely correct!

    • Hi Cath,

      This seems to be the full quote, although unfortunately it had to be expounded by a Canadian!!

      “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”
      –James D. Nicoll


      I love researching words that are new to me, or sharing words which are commonplace to me, but may not be to fellow bloggers in other parts of the world.

      What never fails to amaze me though, are the amount of words in general conversational English, which have their origins in other countries, most notably France and Italy.

      The other thing which always makes me smile, is to see people from different overseas countries trying to converse, when they don’t have a common language. Inevitably they tend to be found speaking to one another in broken English, as the only common communication tool … I wonder why that is?

      Thanks for the great comments, you always have the knack of starting a good discussion.

      • Just to prove how the eye only ses what it wants to see …. I have just re-read that quote and realised that it contained another new to me word that needed checking out:


        A Western saloon is a kind of bar particular to the American Old West. Saloons served such customers as fur trappers, cowboys, soldiers,…

        Sorry, couldn’t let that one pass me by … another great word.

    • Hi Peggy,

      I can’t ever remember anyone in my family using the word caterwauling, although it was quite a common word amongst others in my cicrle of friends and family.

      Scupper on the other hand, is used on a day to day basis, although only in the context of having one’s plans scuppered (ruined or spoilt). I had no idea of the second definition for the word, when used in the context of drainage.

      I liked it when I discovered yet another new word, whilst searching for the definition of one of the original words .. I am not sure just when I would be able to fit ‘cribhouse’ casually into the conversation though!!!

      Thanks for your valued comments.

    • Hi RAnn,

      This meme is always great to take part in and although it is not every week that I have anything new to say, I always try and stop by just to see what new words other people have come up with.

      I have learnt so many new words, although dropping some of them casually into a conversation may be a little difficult sometimes! and remembering them is becoming more of a problem as well!!

      Because fellow bloggers hail from so many diverse parts of the world, many of the words are local colloquialisms, which are even more interesting to discover and learn more about.

      Hope to see you take part in the meme sometime.

Written by Yvonne