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

Wondrous Words Wednesday
New To Me Words

Image of an open book showing words, with a small purple sprig led across the pages - used for the meme Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday …

Is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we have encountered in our reading, or elsewhere

Image of an open book showing words, with a small purple sprig led across the pages - used for the meme Wondrous Words Wednesday

This time, all four of my words I discovered in  a recently read book, which although I might have made an educated guess at defining at least a couple of them, isn’t quite the same as getting it spot on!

Cover image of the book 'Madam' by author Phoebe Wynne

“The next day was Friday and the promised end to Rose’s first week. She dashed down the Great Stairs in the special muffled silence of mid-lesson time, away from that staring oculus set into the high ceiling”

OCULUS – An oculus (plural oculi, from Latin oculus, ‘eye’) is a circular opening in the centre of a dome or in a wall. Originating in antiquity, it is a feature of Byzantine and Neoclassical architecture. It is also known as an œil-de-boeuf from the French, or simply a “bull’s-eye”.

Cover image of the book 'Madam' by author Phoebe Wynne

“Your tunnel that runs from the school to the beach. A postern; they say William Wallace once used it”

POSTERN – A postern is a secondary door or gate in a fortification such as a city wall or castle curtain wall. Posterns were often located in a concealed location which allowed the occupants to come and go inconspicuously. In the event of a siege, a postern could act as a SALLY PORT, allowing defenders to make a sortie on the besiegers. Placed in a less exposed, less visible location, they were usually relatively small, and therefore easily defensible.

Cover image of the book 'Madam' by author Phoebe Wynne

SALLY PORT – A sally port is a secure, controlled entry way to an enclosure, e.g., a fortification or prison. The entrance is usually protected by some means, such as a fixed wall on the outside, parallel to the door, which must be circumvented to enter and prevents direct enemy fire from a distance. It may include two sets of doors that can be barred independently to further delay enemy penetration. From around 1600 to 1900, a sally port was a sort of dock where boats picked up or dropped off ship crews from vessels anchored offshore. That meaning occasionally still occurs, especially in coastal Great Britain

Cover image of the book 'Madam' by author Phoebe Wynne

“The porter told her it was the ‘haar‘ come in from the water and that she mustn’t go for any walks or she’d lose her way from one metre to the next”

HAAR – In meteorology, haar or sea fret is a cold sea fog. It occurs most often on the east coast of England or Scotland between April and September, when warm air passes over the cold North Sea. The term is also known as har, hare, harl, harr and hoar.

Image of an open book showing words, with a small purple sprig led across the pages - used for the meme Wondrous Words Wednesday

That’s four new to me words this time

How many of them do you recognise?

Wondrous Words Wednesday Meme Button by Mareli @ Elza Reads - New Host in January 2021

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 Mareli, over at ‘Elza Reads

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 Mareli and the rest of us, all love to read your comments as well, so that we can visit and share your own words of the week, or simply say Hi!

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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    • Hi Angie,

      This story takes place in a very old Scottish building on a rugged coastline, so the words for various items, really suite the harsh environment, in the way they sound as you say them.

      I had to laugh that ‘haar’ is the German for hair. That never appeared as alternative definition when I looked, so thanks for sharing 🙂

  • The only one I knew for sure was oculus. I remember being very impressed by the “hole” in the ceiling of the Pantheon the first time I visited Rome as a young teen.

    The second two were both familiar words, but not ones I could put a definition to.

    The final word is totally new to me, but not living anywhere near a coast, I’ve not had any experience with sea fog!

    Fun choices this time, Yvonne.

    • Hi Kelly,

      Given the word was ‘oculus’ (to do with the eye), I could have had a good stab at its meaning in the context of the story, however I couldn’t have pinned down an exact definition.

      The second two words I have probably come across from my reading in the past if I am totally honest, especially in historical Cornish sagas, as not only were these secret tunnels and doors in coastal properties used to hide and make good the escape of the clergy during the period of the reformation, but they would have also been used to move contraband and smuggled goods to and from the beaches.

      We do a good line in sea fog around most of our coastal areas, although where this story is set in Scotland, is definitely more susceptible to it.

      Thanks for stopping by to share my words this week 🙂

    • Hi Deb,

      Four strong sounding words, which match the harsh landscape of the storyline, the severity and darkness of the big old house in which most of the story takes place and the ‘darkness’ of the premise itself!

      I hope you found this week’s selection interesting and that you are all set to have a lovely Easter. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Oculus is the name of Facebook’s VR set, so I’m familiar with the name and, of course its relation to eyes. In Romanian, which is a Latin-based language, eye is ochi. 🙂

    I had no idea about the rest and I imagine that at least sally port is not easy to understand from the context.

    • Hi Anca,

      A lot of the old coastal houses/castles had hidden doors in rooms, which led down a series of tunnels to an outside door, usually hidden among the rocks on a beach or in a wood or forest. They were generally used by priests to evade capture and certain death, during the years of the reformation. They were also used by contraband smugglers who would land their ill gotten goods onto the beach in deserted spots away from prying eyes, with the spoils then being transferred to land via the hidden doors and tunnels, unseen by the troops and police.

      I love how one word can lead to another in this meme- I checked out your reference to ‘ochi’ being the Romanian for eye and from there discovered that ‘ochi’ means ‘no’ in Greek and is a Public Holiday … which might interest you with its WWII historical context!

      “Ochi Day is a national holiday in Greece related to the word ochi, which means “no.” This holiday commemorates the day during World War II when Greeks said ochi to an attempted incursion ordered by Italy’s fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini.
      On the morning of October 28, in 1940, the Italian ambassador to Greece called on Gen. Ioannis Metaxas, the self-appointed prime minister, to demand that Italian troops be allowed to occupy certain strategic areas in Greece. Metaxas curtly responded, “Ochi.” The Italians invaded, but were routed by the Greeks.
      Ochi Day is observed in Greece with military and school parades; it is also a public holiday celebrated in Cyprus with parades”

      Thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate our little exchanges of comments 🙂

      • That’s fascinating, I had no idea. Thanks for telling me about the Greek holiday, I will search more about it.

        Happy Easter, if you are celebrating, of course. If not, happy long weekend. 🙂

        • Quietly celebrating at home in the garden, as all friends and family live too far away to be classed as ‘local’.

          At least DG has a couple of days off work, the first since lockdown began, so he can relax.

          I hope you enjoy the break too! 🙂

  • Hi there Yvonne!

    So sorry that I only reply now. We’ve been away for the Easter Weekend and we didn’t have any reception at all. Was a good break away!

    I have heard about oculus before and “haar” means hair in Afrikaans!

    Hope you had a wonderful Easter Weekend and that you will have a good week ahead.

    Elza Reads

    • Hi Mareli

      No worries on the delayed comment, I don’t expect you to stop by, it is just good to chat when you have the time.

      I am pleased that you had a good weekend away, the Easter break has flown by, although as we are still in partial lockdown, we didn’t do much, but at least the weather has been good, so we could get out into the garden.

      One of the other commenters said that ‘haar’ is also hair in German, so I am not sure how we Brits managed to turn the word into something weather related – interesting!

      I have loads of Blog Tours in May and I have to get the books read and reviewed, so I know exactly what I shall be doing this week. I hope that you have a good week too! 🙂

Written by Yvonne