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

Wondrous Words Wednesday


I discovered this phrase when I returned a visit from fellow blogger Tea, of ‘Tea And Inspiration‘, where she shared an extract from Indigo by Catherine E. McKinley.

This particular phrase did turn into a rather mammoth undertaking though, as I needed to drill down deeper and deeper, to reach a basic understanding of its use!

Cover Image Of The Book Indigo By Author Catherine E. McKinley

We watched the woman disappear into the bend of the road. It was unsettling. She seemed possessed, driven by some mimetic force. I was afraid that that force was also a part of me. I was also a worshiper, set wandering in an unfamiliar land.


Mimetic forces around a particular idea or practice. The coercive, mimetic, and normative forces, present in the field dictate institutionalization and theoretically produce an environment that induces organizational conformity, or homogeneity, through pressure.


relating to, constituting, or habitually practising mimesis.


Imitative representation of the real world in art and literature.

The deliberate imitation of the behaviour of one group of people by another as a factor in social change.




Hubbie discovered this word on the BBC website, whilst we were visiting with relatives and he made great mileage out of explaining to everyone, that it described me to a ‘T’, before showing me the definition.

Since then, it has apparently worked its way up the charts, to become one of the most popular words ever to be featured.

In all fairness, it is probably one of the most accurate descriptions of my office bookshelves and the many other book cases we have dotted around the house. I guess this means that now I have been officially diagnosed, I really should update my profile 🙂

Image Of A Large Pile Of Books

Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading? If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku – a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature. Prof Andrew Gerstle teaches pre-modern Japanese texts at the University of London. He explained to the BBC the term might be older than you think – it can be found in print as early as 1879, meaning it was likely in use before that. The word “doku” can be used as a verb to mean “reading”. According to Prof Gerstle, the “tsun” in “tsundoku” originates in “tsumu” – a word meaning “to pile up”. So when put together, “tsundoku” has the meaning of buying reading material and piling it up. “The phrase ‘tsundoku sensei’ appears in text from 1879 according to the writer Mori Senzo,” Prof Gerstle explained. “Which is likely to be satirical, about a teacher who has lots of books but doesn’t read them.” While this might sound like tsundoku is being used as an insult, Prof Gerstle said the word does not carry any stigma in Japan.


The Japanese expression Tsundoku, meaning “leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with other unread books”, has offered reassurance to book hoarders.




… Is An image for the weekly meme Wondrous Words Wednesdaya 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, so that we can visit and share your words of the week!


Written by

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’d not heard of ‘mimetic force’ at all… I’m glad you said you had to drill down deeper to get an understanding of its meaning… I had to read it several times before I got it and I’m still not *quite* sure. LOL!

    As to Tsundoku. I had heard of that but only in the last couple of months on the internet, Twitter or FB, but like you that’s me to a T. The start of the word reminded me me of Tsunami and I wondered if there was a connection, ie. ‘huge wave’… ‘huge amount of unread books’… just my mind wandering as it usually does. I do love these unusual words though. 🙂

    • I must admit, that when I first looked up ‘mimetic force’, I did wonder whether I was severely lacking in my education, as it all sounded like gobbledygook!

      Then, as I drilled down and realised the correlation between ‘mimetic’, ‘mimesis’ and simple old ‘mime’, the penny began to drop and the mud became a little clearer!

      🙂 I loved your association of ‘tsundoku’ and ‘tsunami’ – huge amount of unread books just about sums up my life!

      I must be on a completely different wavelength to you though, as the first word which went through my mind when I saw ‘tsundoku’ written down, was ‘sudoku’ – I’m not sure what that’s all about – A numbers game and a huge number of books? 🙂

  • New words to me, as well… though I did just see Tsundoku on Twitter the other day – a tweet by you, I believe! Good thing it carries no stigma considering I’m also guilty!

    I wrote down a word from my science magazine not long ago which had a photo of a bottle of ketchup (catsup) along with its definition. With that hint, I’ll let you look up the word yourself since I know you enjoy the challenge. The word is: thixotropic

    • I have to admit that, knowing I wanted to feature the word ‘tsundoku’ in a WWW post, I wasn’t 100% certain about retweeting the BBC article.

      However, I just felt that I wanted to share such a momentous word, one which sums me up so beautifully and simply to know that there is and always has been a word to describe myself and other ‘collectors’ like me, that I hit the share button – I hope that I didn’t spoil things too much for you?

      🙂 I never really was much of a science expert, so ‘thixotropic’ was totally unknown to me, but what a great word. I also liked the word rheopectic, used to describe the opposite effect. These are words I should definitely be able to remember and might even be able to use in general conversation one day, perhaps when the ketchup bottle comes into play, on the odd occasion we enjoy a fish and chip supper 🙂

      Just in case other commenters want to know what the heck we are talking about …

      Rheopectic liquids increase in viscosity as stress over time increases. Thixotropic liquids decrease in viscosity as stress over time increases.

    • The trouble is, it’s not just the men who have a good chuckle over these kind of words; most of my girlfriends can’t understand my obsession with books either.

      When they suggest a shopping day out, my heart sinks, as they mean trawling what is left of the high street and mall fashion spots, whilst my ideal day would be spent in a bookshop with a proper coffee lounge and comfy chairs!

      I do have to admit though, that when I saw the definition of tsundoku actually laid out in writing, even my heart sank a little at the honest truth I saw about myself!

      Thanks for hosting WWW. I may not take part every time, but I am always on the lookout for new words or phrases to share 🙂

    • Now that post would make interesting reading 🙂

      We have friends who have now settled in Deganwy, near Llandudno. He is Welsh by birth, however his wife and children are very much English by birth and throughout most of their formative years. It is now almost impossible for either child to get a permanent job with the local authority unless they first learn Welsh. How difficult do you think they are finding that – I certainly don’t envy them!!

      All that aside, the scenery is certainly to die for and I hope that you had a good time 🙂

Written by Yvonne