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Wondrous Words Wednesday

April 28, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.  If you want to play along, grab the button, and join the fun!  (Don’t forget to leave a link in the comments if you’re participating.)

All of my words this week are from The Ocean Between Us by Susan Wiggs.

1. gouge –  “’The Navy loves to brief people,” he admitted, hearing echoes of the endless droning of Navy gouge he’d endured over the years, litanies of instruction and advisories.”

I knew what gouge means as a verb, but this use puzzled me.  I had to turn to Wikipedia to find its meaning.  According to that source, gouge means:

In U.S. Navy/U.S. Coast Guard jargon, gouge is —

  • the essential piece of information, the heart of the matter;
  • a crib sheet or other condensed summary of useful information;
  • outstanding test-preparation material such as an old test copy.

A person who is tired of hearing all the extraneous information surrounding a problem might exclaim “Just give me the gouge!”

Originated at the U.S. Naval Academy and introduced from there into the wider navy, it is most often used in Naval Aviation. Its use has migrated to be found extensively in the professional pilot ranks regarding airline interviews and aircraft familiarization information.


2. pennon – “A single small cloud clung to the peak like a pennon from a castle.”

A pennon is a long, usually triangular or swallow-tailed, streamer typically attached to the head of a lance as an ensign.


3. towhee– “Dew clung to the camellia and ligustrum hedges, and towhees flitted in and out of the verges, foraging for food.”

A towhee is a common finch.


What new words have you encountered lately?

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26 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2010 5:45 am

    I think the little flag at the top of the mast on a sailboat is also called a pennon. The sailboat flag is a narrow triangle which swivels in the wind and shows its direction. I didn’t know that it started on the end of a lance.

  2. DanaB permalink
    April 28, 2010 7:13 am

    What a fantastic post idea!! I’m going to chime in over on my blog, I am!

    Hmm…I don’t think I’ve run across ‘gouge’ used as a verb before either…to my recollection…interesting…


    • DanaB permalink
      April 28, 2010 8:51 am

      I meant ‘gouge’ as a noun…oops!!

  3. April 28, 2010 7:55 am

    I love, love the towhee. He’s too pretty. Never heard of one. I had my word up. It would have been “rand.” I thought that word too easy. Didn’t have another one. So, here I am missing my Wondrous Words buddies. Good morning, buddies.

  4. April 28, 2010 8:06 am

    I love those specialized military words- those are things you really only hear in that specific context so it’s interesting to learn about!

  5. April 28, 2010 8:14 am

    Once again, they’re all new to me! I thought I was going to know gouge, but I only know it as a verb, too. Interesting to see it as a noun.

    My words are here:

  6. April 28, 2010 8:17 am

    Wow — the illustrated version! All of these words were new to me!

  7. April 28, 2010 8:33 am

    I’ve never seen this definition of gouge before either — very interesting!

  8. April 28, 2010 9:34 am

    I love finding new meanings for common words (I have one of those in my list today, too)!

    My words are here.

  9. April 28, 2010 9:40 am

    Towhees are weird because I can never find any agreement on how to pronounce them. Is it a toe-HEE or a TOE-hee. No one seems to concur. But finch works! :–)

  10. April 28, 2010 9:42 am

    Great words this week. I have never heard of this type of finch before.

  11. April 28, 2010 10:26 am

    I’m a bird watcher (and took ornithology in college) – so it was great to see a Towhee here today! They are really pretty, aren’t they? It’s fun when books and birds meet….

  12. April 28, 2010 10:49 am

    You caught me. I hadn’t a clue about your words. I have participated for the first time here, and look forward to finding out if anyone knows these words, because I certainly didn’t.

  13. April 28, 2010 11:26 am

    Here are my words for this week:

  14. April 28, 2010 11:30 am

    Having had an extended family of Abert’s Towhees on my property for years, I can attest that they are fun birds to watch. They are definitely characters! However, they aren’t finches. They’re members of the sparrow family. (Looked it up in my well-thumbed The Sibley Guide to Birds.)

  15. April 28, 2010 11:34 am

    My son is in the Navy…. I am going to use this word next time I chat with him and see what he says.

  16. April 28, 2010 12:08 pm

    I like your explanation for gouge. I’ve used it as a verb (that salesman is trying to gouge me) but never as a noun. It reminds me of an old boss I had who used to say to me, “Just give me the poop.”

    My Wondrous Word post is HERE.

  17. April 28, 2010 12:09 pm

    My participation in this wonderful meme this week is to add words to my list, as I had a review to post today.

    I didn’t know gouge as a noun either.

    Pennon was also unknown to me.

    Towhee is a great word, and the picture is a nice touch.

  18. April 28, 2010 12:57 pm

    I thought I knew gouge, but different meaning. I was wrong. LOL

  19. April 28, 2010 2:34 pm

    I’ll have to ask my brother, who’s in the Navy, if he knows what a gouge is. I think I have seen some towhees feeding in my front yard.

    Here are my words…

  20. April 28, 2010 4:01 pm

    Cute bird. Interesting words.

  21. April 28, 2010 4:15 pm

    Very cool words this week!! #1 was new to me!

  22. April 28, 2010 5:00 pm

    I like “towhee” 😀 And I also only knew “gouge” as a verb.

  23. April 30, 2010 12:12 am

    I’ve heard of gouge, but not in this sense. Great words. Cute picture of the towhee. 🙂

  24. April 30, 2010 9:14 am

    Aww, towhees! I bet you’ve got them around you… they’re fairly common forest and suburban birds. Their song is also really easy to recognize, it sounds like “drink your TEA!”

  25. May 1, 2010 8:19 am

    I haven’t heard of these words before. Thanks for sharing with us!

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