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

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  too, so that we can visit and share your words.


I came across just one more word from contemporary fiction novel ‘Women of a Dangerous Age’, by Fanny Blake


We talked for ages but she’s coming over tonight to give me the unexpurgated version

UNEXPURGATED: …Not shortened by omissions: complete, unabbreviated, unabridged, uncensored, uncut

This has to be a great word for slipping into that conversation with someone who can usually make you feel totally inadequate, no matter what you say …


My next words come from my current read, ‘Hope’s Betrayal (The Huntley Trilogy)’, by Grace Elliot.
2. 3. & 4. SKIFF, SMACK & CUTTER

The smugglers were preparing to leave; five figures wading out to the skiff and jumping on board

Becalmed in the fog, fishing smacks and cutters bobbed at anchor.

SKIFF: … A flatbottom open boat of shallow draft, having a pointed bow and a square stern and propelled by oars, sail, or motor.
SMACK: … A fishing boat sailing under various rigs, according to size, and often having a well used to transport the catch to market.
CUTTER: … A sailing boat with its mast stepped further aft so as to have a larger foretriangle than that of a sloop … A ship’s boat, powered by oars or sail, for carrying passengers or light cargo … A small lightly armed boat, as used in the enforcement of customs regulations
I was aware that a ‘skiff’, a ‘smack’, and a ‘cutter’, were types of boat, but didn’t really know what they looked like. I need to thank Wikipedia once again, for these excellent articles and accompanying pictures illustrating just how varied the many types of these particular vessels are. I imagine that the illustrations I have highlighted, are how they might have appeared during the time frame the book deals with.

At the thought of removing her night-rail in front of a stranger Hope blushed but the maid spoke softly …
NIGHT – RAIL A now obsolete word, a night-rail was a loose robe worn as a nightgown.
Although this word’s definition seemed pretty obvious when read in the context of the story, it was definitely a word that I had never come across before in my reading and I was interested to see just what it might have looked like… check out this great article
Huntley rolled his eyes. “Phish!” Next you’ll be saying she’s accomplished on the virginale
VIRGINALE: … A small, legless rectangular harpsichord popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, having one manual and no pedals. Often used in the plural. Also called pair of virginals. (probably from Latin virginālis virginal, perhaps because it was played largely by young ladies)
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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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    • Hi Mary Ann,

      I really want to use ‘unexpurgated’ in a conversation, just to see what people’s reactions are. Of course, in the real world of the everyday, I would just say that ‘she was coming over tonight to fill me in on the full story’

      I too, knew the names of the different sailing vessels, but have never taken the time to discover what each of them looks like. As this is a book about smuggling, I can just imagine the ‘cutters’ of the excise men, racing through the water, in pursuit of the smaller smuggling vessels!

      Thanks for stopping by, your comments are always appreciated.

  • I knew skiff and cutter was some kind of boat but, like you, didn’t know what they looked like. I find virginale to be a very interesting word and wonder about its origin. By the way, I love the new look!!

    • Hi Kathy,

      Virginale, virginal(s), seems to be a very elaborate and extensive subject, as are the instruments themselves. Some of the carving and marquetry is amazing.

      This article is really substantive and informative and if you scroll down to the ‘etymology’ section, you will see that the origin of the word, is obscure, although almost certainly derived from Latin.


      Thanks for noticing the new look, although unfortunately I can’t take much credit for it. Without having a brilliant ‘techie’ husband, who can not only source, personalise and populate the new look template, but also gives great lessons for the user, I would be completely lost!

    • Hi Naida,

      Grace Elliot always comes up with some great new words, in her historical romance novels. She carries out extensive research in the area, as she is passionate about the subject and her blog is always a delight to visit, she always has something interesting to say.

      Night-rail is an interesting concept and definitely a word that I haven’t come across anywhere before. Since this post, I have also found another great site, this time a US site, showing clothing words and phrases from the Colonial days of 1700-1776. Here, a night-rail is described as a shoulder cape of muslin or lace. So I guess this is a case of a single word, with more than one meaning.


      Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate the comments you leave.

  • Classy new look today! I’ve heard unexpurgated before, but would not use it commonly, or at all really. Unabridged is so much easier, and more common I think. I knew that skiff and cutter were types of boats, but not what they looked like. Thanks for including the pictures, they certainly help- and the one on the left is just lovely.

  • Hi Louise,

    This picture shows the skiff being used for pleasure purposes, but you can just imagine the smugglers in this book, sneaking silently into their coastal hideouts in the dead of night, rowing their skiff.

    Personally, I am not much of a sailor (afraid I can’t even swim), so having pictures of the boats to match with the names is a godsend.

    I couldn’t think of another word to explain unexpurgated, which I would use in everyday conversation, however your word unabridged fits the bill perfectly, thanks. I really would like to be able to drop unexpurgated into a conversation (with the right people of course!), just to see what kind of reaction I’d get!!

    Thanks for noticing the new look site. It’s funny how trends change so quickly and radically, isn’t it? Minimalist is definitely the buzz word right now, I really need to apply that principle to the clutter in the house now!

    Seriously though, the new template does have quite a few new features that are much better to work with and Dave has made some fantastic adaptations to include the ‘headers’, which are great.

    I always appreciate your visits and lovely comments, so thanks for stopping by.

Written by Yvonne