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Wondrous Words Wednesday

September 15, 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 come from Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman.

1. porgy– “In fact, the largest porgy oil business on the Red Hook Peninsula had been owned by one of Benjamin Hewins, whose father, Nehemiah Hewins, cousin to Iris’s great-great-grandfather Elias, took a musket ball to the fleshy pad of his thumb while serving in the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment at the Battle of Bunker Hill.”

The meaning of this word really surprised me – a porgy is any of several fish of the family Sparidea.


2. hyperborean – “But I promise you that despite having spent all the summer of her life in this hyperborean backwater, your grandmother’s manners and taste were too refined ever to permit her to indulge in that abomination.”

In this case, hyperborean means of, or relating to an extreme northern region: frozen.


3. machetaynista– “She was once again off to negotiate with her machetaynista, the woman with whom her native language did not even require her to have a relationship.”

I couldn’t find a definition for this one – does anyone know what it means?


Have you discovered any new words lately?

27 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2010 5:12 am

    Porgy – as in Porgy and Bess?

  2. September 15, 2010 5:42 am

    I like the word, machetaynista, couldn’t find a definiton, but I looked up macheta and it is a town in the country of Colombia…would it make sense to say it is of Spanish origin?

    Great words again.

    Enjoy the day.

  3. kaye permalink
    September 15, 2010 7:02 am

    I’m clueless on that last one. I did know porgy though. If I had to guess on hyperborean, I would have thought it was an area with a lot of trees. Good one!

  4. September 15, 2010 7:11 am

    Great ones. I have no idea about #3. Here are mine:

  5. September 15, 2010 7:38 am

    Porgy oil is new to me (although fish oil isn’t) and I couldn’t find anything on the third word. I live in a northern state and can’t remember anyone using the word hyperborean in conversation (with me). Maybe I need to run with a new crowd, haha. I’ll be reading Red Hook Road soon so I hope I remember these definitions.

  6. September 15, 2010 10:10 am

    So I can say that where I live it’s hyperborean:)

  7. September 15, 2010 10:10 am

    machetaynista is Yiddish for female in-law and can mean the mother of the girl you are going to marry or of the boy you are going to marry, or of the girl or boy your daughter or son is going to marry. The usual spelling in English is machetayneste so that’s why you couldn’t find it.

    • September 15, 2010 10:15 am

      Thanks, Jill! Now I have to practice saying it until it rolls off of my tongue.

      • September 15, 2010 4:24 pm

        I can’t believe she knew that! I bow to her supreme knowledge.

  8. September 15, 2010 10:47 am

    Darn! I knew machetaynista but Rhapsody beat me to it. Good words, though!

    My new words are here.

  9. September 15, 2010 11:16 am

    I had to see what the meaning of the last one was, so I’m glad Jill cleared that up. 🙂

  10. September 15, 2010 12:07 pm

    I don’t think I have ever heard any of those words. They definitely aren’t words used in everyday conversation.
    Here are mine

  11. September 15, 2010 12:27 pm

    Oh, I’m going to have to tell my girlfriend about this blog. She LOVES learning new words.

    I have one for you, Fictive rest: The inability of many people to fall asleep until after reading even the tiniest amount of fiction.

    INTRAVINCULAR FAMILIAL SILENCE We need to be around our families not because we have so many shared experiences to talk about, but because they know precisely which subjects to avoid.

  12. September 15, 2010 12:30 pm

    One of the things I like about your Wondrous Words feature is that the words (and sentences) make me very curious about the book, some times more than a review. In this case I’m now interested in Red Hook Road.

    You can find my words here: Joyfully Retired.

  13. September 15, 2010 1:34 pm

    These are some pretty great words, Kathy!

    I love machetaynista! It’s an awesome Yiddish word. I’m glad Jill was able to help you out with it. I learned of it from my husband’s grandparents who were Jewish and loved to tell me about Yiddish words and quiz me on them a few days later! lol

    I had no idea porgy was more than a name (as in Porgy and Bess!)

    I like hyperborean a lot, it’s a cool word (oops, no pun intended! lol)

    Here are my words for this week, including a couple more from “Infinite Jest”!
    Amy’s Wednesday Words

    ~ Amy

  14. September 15, 2010 1:38 pm

    Porgy surprised me, to0. Fish? Really?
    Your commenter, Elizabeth, is probably right about the mystery word. 🙂

  15. September 15, 2010 2:31 pm

    I was very far off on my idea of definitions for each of those.

  16. September 15, 2010 3:42 pm

    These are great! For some reason, I knew porgy was a kind of fish (have no idea why I knew it). Never heard the other words before. I’d love to come up with an occasion to use “machetaynista” but I’d never be able to pronounce it!

  17. September 15, 2010 7:09 pm

    Once again, three interesting words I didn’t know! I’m looking forward to reading Red Hook Road.

  18. September 15, 2010 9:08 pm

    Great words!

    I found some new words this week from Petra: City of Stone by T.L. Higley.

  19. September 15, 2010 9:27 pm

    Great new words, Kathy! I finally finished RED HOOK ROAD today, and only “porgy” was known to me. “Jane” gave a little insight to ‘machetaynista,’ but I’m more likely to remember the definition than the word itself.

  20. September 15, 2010 9:50 pm

    I live in a hyperborean region!!! I want to live somewhere much warmer!! 😀

  21. September 16, 2010 10:29 am

    Oh, you totally stumped me with machetaynista! So glad Jill is out there to define these things for us. And that you found it–what a great word!!

  22. givingreadingachance permalink
    September 17, 2010 4:32 am

    wow! This time the words are all that I have NEVER heard of!

  23. September 17, 2010 4:52 pm

    Huh! Because of Georgy Porgy I’ve always thought it meant chubby…

  24. September 19, 2010 7:05 am

    I think porgy and remember… Porgy and Bess… Ahhhhhhhh.

    I actually liked the last word best machetaynista. I’ll go wide and pretend it means… chic with machete with a killer flair for dynamics… How’s that??

  25. September 19, 2010 9:24 am

    I ran into “porgy” while reading Brave New World. I didn’t realize it had an actual meaning.

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