Wednesday, September 28, 2011

~ ~ Wondrous Words Wednesday ~ ~

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog where we share words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun (please do!) Be sure to leave a link to your post over at Bermudaonion's Weblog.

All of my words, today, are from Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

" Such was the subedar's presence that the groom and his immediate family seemed pleasingly diffident in comparison, and this played no small part in earning Deeti's consent for the match. "

1. Subedar
: (historical term, formerly) the chief native officer of a company of Indian soldiers in the British service. Also called subah

" Although Mrs. Burnham's clothes were severe in cut, they were made of much finer stuffs than any that Paulette had ever worn before: not for her common Chinsurah calicoes, nor even the fine shabnam muslins and zaituni satins that many memsahibs made do with; the Burra BeeBee** of Bethel would have nothing less than the finest kerseymere, the best silks from China, crisp linens from Ireland and soft Surat nainsooks. "

2. Chinsurah
:formally Hugli-Chuchura, a city in the state of West Bengal, India that lies on the Hooghly River

3. Shabnam
: a Urdu word meaning dew drops

4. Zaituni
: the Arab name for a city in China whose whereabouts are no longer known; meaning "coming from Zaitun" and related to the Chinese word sze-tun or ssu-tuan, a smooth silk.

5. Memsahib
: (formerly, in India) a term of respect for a married European woman.

6. Kerseymere
: a heavily fulled woolen cloth constructed in twill weave and finished with a fine nap.

7. Surat
: a seaport in S Gujarat, in W India: first British settlement in India 1612

8. Nainsook
: a fine, soft-finished cotton fabric, usually white, used for lingerie and infants' wear

“I asked you here tonight because I wish to know whether your promise was a mere bagatelle, lightly uttered, or whether you are indeed a man who honors his parole.”

9. Bagatelle
: something of little value or importance; a trifle.

** in case you haven't read Sea of Poppies, Burra BeeBee is a another name for Mrs Burnham


  1. Loved the words for this week -- very exotic!

  2. I have Sea of Poppies but I've heard so much about the daunting vocab and accents used that I've been afraid to dive into it!

  3. The only one of these words I knew was memsahib. Lots of great words here today, thanks for sharing them!

  4. I think that must be the world record for number of new words from one sentence! I've heard both memsahib and bagatelle before, but don't think I could have defined them

  5. "memsahib" and "bagatelle" were the only two that looked familiar. I did know 'memsahib', but thought "bagatelle" was a type of bead or ornament.

    Maybe I should stay away from this book, I'd have to go to the dictionary with every page!

  6. I like to read India related books. But often they are difficult to read because of the numerous "wondrous words" !I knew a few of them because they are the same in "French" : Cachemire, bagatelle, mensahib. Thanks for all these discovers !

  7. Other than bagatelle and memsahib, the rest I've never heard of. Sounds like an interesting book.