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Wondrous Words Wednesday

November 23, 2011

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, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!  These are my final words from Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

1. agonal – “The other patient was agonal, his pupils fixed and dilated.”

Agonal isn’t a very pleasant word.  It means of, relating to, or associated with agony and especially the death agony.


2. coir – There is much to be made in coir.”

Coir is a stiff coarse fiber from the outer husk of a coconut.  I found some interesting pictures when I searched for images of coir.


3. aliquot– “In the kitchen, I took out my dinner, which was a foil packet labeled FRIDAY in my handwriting; it was the last of what I had cooked, frozen, and packed in aliquots many weekends ago.”

According to my dictionary, aliquot means contained an exact number of times in something else or fractional.  This doesn’t seem to quite fit the sentence, but I couldn’t find another definition that does.  Do you know of another meaning for aliquot?


Have you come across any new words lately?

27 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2011 4:08 am

    Agonal just made sense. Coir was totally new to me. I’d seen aliquot in print before, but had no idea what it meant.

  2. November 23, 2011 4:49 am

    All new to me! It seems to me that the definition for aliquot fits your sentence: a fraction is basically a part of, so she (he?) cooked something, divided it in parts and froze the “aliquots”, i.e. the parts. Don’t see any reason to use such a technical word in this context, though (*puzzled*)

  3. November 23, 2011 6:23 am

    I have seen aliquot in context where it implied a dose of something. That would fit in that you divide the medicine into equal doses, i.e., aliquots.

  4. November 23, 2011 6:24 am

    YAY. I knew all three today. Agonal may derive from agony I’m not sure (it’s weird but I’d never thought about that), but is generally used to convey the period immediate before or during someone’s death and they have irregular, agonal breathing at that time. I find the sentence a bit confusing actually, because agonal usually represents just before or during death, whereas fixed and dilated pupils is used as a sign to confirm death.

    Coir mats are relatively common in Australia, I’d forgotten it was from coconut though I think.

    And aliquots as scribacchina suggests does mean parts or portions. It’s a rather odd usage I think. In acute medicine, drugs such as morphine may be given in aliquots, so that a bit is given at a time, and then a bit more as needed.

    Anyway, three fascinating words as always Kathy.

  5. November 23, 2011 7:16 am

    I like agonal, must try to use that in a sentence soon!
    found this for Aliquot:
    2. (Chemistry) consisting of equal quantities the sample was divided into five aliquot parts
    found at

    Here are my words

  6. November 23, 2011 8:05 am

    I have a coir rug so I knew that one. Here aliquot is used to mean she portioned out her servings — probably measuring them out rather carefully.

  7. November 23, 2011 8:17 am

    Interesting words today! Agonal has the potential to be a pretty powerful word – great for strong scenes. Thanks for sharing.

  8. November 23, 2011 8:33 am

    Wow, impressed that Candace has a coir rug!

  9. November 23, 2011 8:52 am

    I like coir.

  10. November 23, 2011 9:02 am

    I just saw coir in the book that I’m reading (Affinity)! I had never seen it before and was able to figure out the meaning from the context, but how cool to actually see the definition.

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving Kathy!

  11. November 23, 2011 9:26 am

    I was surprised by the word agaonal. Great words this week!

  12. November 23, 2011 9:54 am

    These are both new words for me, and I really like them! I am getting anxious to read Cutting for Stone, as now I am armed with all the vocabulary definitions that I need to understand it! Thanks, Kathy!

  13. November 23, 2011 10:54 am

    All three words are new to this English teacher. Agonal is a good one, and one I can see using. Aliquot has me stumped, but I wonder if it is related to “allocate”?

  14. November 23, 2011 10:58 am

    I figured that’s what agonal meant, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it before.

  15. November 23, 2011 11:05 am

    I knew agonal because I was a medical transcriptionist for more years than I care to admit. Have never seen it used other than in medical reports though.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Carl and Vance, Kathy.

  16. November 23, 2011 11:20 am

    Again all new to me, great words.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  17. November 23, 2011 11:32 am

    Your words were interesting to read but I also enjoyed everyone’s comments on the words too. As readers, we do like to focus in on those little fragments you call Wondrous Words. All part of a reader’s enjoyment.

  18. kaye permalink
    November 23, 2011 12:02 pm

    Definitely new words to me. I can see how aliquots in that sentence could seem to not fit.

  19. November 23, 2011 1:21 pm

    I see words like “agonal” – which was new to me – and then want to extrapolate with words like “diagonal” just for fun (twice the pain?). 🙂 Unfortunately when I looked it up it doesn’t come from the same root word, just a coincidental likeness.

  20. November 23, 2011 3:04 pm

    Once again, three words that I haven’t heard before.

  21. November 23, 2011 3:17 pm

    All new ones to me, too.

  22. November 23, 2011 3:19 pm

    You stumped me on all three! Happy Thanksgiving!

  23. November 23, 2011 3:51 pm

    Never heard those before :=)

  24. November 23, 2011 6:02 pm

    coir – I knew before I read the book as growing up in India meant using ropes made of coir, seeing coir around you when there are coconut trees all around. Agonal was something I could guess the meaning of.
    But Aliquot made my WWW list too when I was reading the book. My list is up and linked.. Happy Thanksgiving.

  25. November 23, 2011 8:10 pm

    Every week I love the words you pick and this week is no different. I love the look of “coir”.

  26. November 24, 2011 7:07 pm

    I wish I could tell you that I know of another word for the last one!

  27. November 25, 2011 3:28 am

    I like the sound of the word aliquot very much, but know of no other use than in medical references.

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