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Wondrous Words Wednesday

April 10, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

My words this week come from Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

1. termagant – “She just turned up on the doorstep, the lamb . . . wanted to see me . . . pay a visit, museums and so on, the theather, nothing risqué . . . now don’t be a termagant, Hugh . . .

A termagant is an overbearing or nagging woman: a shrew.  It can also be used as an adjective.  I sure hope no one ever uses that word to describe me!


2. cuirass – “Ursula was determinedly nonchalant, said she had reports she needed to take to the War Cabinet Office, clutching buff folders to her chest like a cuirass.”

A cuirass is a piece of armor covering the body from neck to waist: also the breastplate of such a piece.


3. pelmet – “There were girls in her office whose skirts were like pelmets.”

A pelmet is a short valance or small cornice for concealing curtain fixtures.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

23 Comments leave one →
  1. thewrredhead permalink
    April 10, 2013 6:27 am

    I love termagant…that’s a good insult for when you don’t want the other person to really understand the insult. Haha.

  2. bookingmama permalink
    April 10, 2013 6:48 am

    Great words. I knew cuirass because of the historical fiction that I’ve read!

  3. April 10, 2013 6:49 am

    Unfortunately I know “termagant” well since unmentioned people tend to apply it to describe my personality! LOL

  4. April 10, 2013 7:23 am

    All new to me words. I was wondering about the origins of the word termagant, so I looked it up and this is what I found. It comes from Middle English Termagaunt, imaginary Muslim deity portrayed as a violent and overbearing character in medieval mystery plays. I wonder if Shakespeare knew this word?

  5. April 10, 2013 7:50 am

    Great words! I am going to the library this morning to pick up my reserved copy-now I know what termagant means-thanks

  6. April 10, 2013 8:22 am

    The vision I see with pelmet is an eye-blinking one!

  7. Beth Hoffman permalink
    April 10, 2013 8:51 am

    I knew pelmet but the others had me stumped. I sure hope no one ever finds me to be a termagant …LOL. Great words, Kathy!

  8. April 10, 2013 9:43 am

    Hi Kathy,

    The only one of your words which was new to me this week was cuirass and I would never have guessed what it meant.

    The defintion you have for pelmet is quite correct as you describe it in the context of curtain hanging, however to describe the scenario of the short skirt you quote, there is a much more derogatory term which is widely used in the UK and isn’t particularly pleasant so I have just left you a link …

    I hope that I never get described as a termagant, although I am sure that if hubbie came across it, it would be a great word for him to use instead of calling me a nag… so ssshh! don’t let on!

    Great words and thanks for hosting,


  9. April 10, 2013 11:00 am

    There are a lot of pelmet looking skirts out there. Good words

  10. April 10, 2013 11:07 am

    I’ve been so curious to read this book – it’s been getting a lot of attention. All of those words are new to me- sounds like I’ll need the dictionary handy to read this book 🙂

  11. talesofwhimsy permalink
    April 10, 2013 11:27 am

    Pelmet? Wow. I had no idea. I never would have even guessed that.

  12. April 10, 2013 11:45 am

    My favorite is also termagent- I loved Kelly’s comment about the hidden insult! Also, isn’t it great how your readers add to the “learning” by sharing links and information! I’ve learned a lot today. What a great community you’ve build here! Perhaps it’s a good thing you didn’t include a picture of pelmet.

  13. zibilee permalink
    April 10, 2013 1:03 pm

    All of these are great words, but my favorite is pelmet. Atkinson sure does have an outstanding vocabulary! I need to read this one soon.

  14. April 10, 2013 1:43 pm

    Kathy, I wish I could do a WWW post today! At least I can learn a few words here. The second two are new to me! 🙂

  15. April 10, 2013 2:33 pm

    I thought the use of pelmet in that sentende was very clever. I’ve never thought of skirts as resembliing a valance but it’s true. Good words today, Kathy.

  16. April 10, 2013 3:13 pm

    Oh so that is what termagant is

  17. April 10, 2013 8:00 pm

    I so knew what termagant was!!!!! I get a gold star!

  18. lab1990 permalink
    April 10, 2013 9:41 pm

    Oh, interesting! I didn’t know any of these words. they would make great vocab words for high school. 🙂

    lauren from

  19. Patty permalink
    April 10, 2013 9:50 pm

    Whoa…very unusual words!

  20. joyweesemoll permalink
    April 10, 2013 10:45 pm

    I’ve seen pelmets, but I didn’t know what they were called! It doesn’t sound like a very attractive shirt, yet.

  21. April 11, 2013 8:43 am

    I knew pelmet, but it’s kind of an old fashioned word to me. I know that I’ve come across cuirass too.

  22. April 11, 2013 11:28 am

    All new to me this week.

  23. April 12, 2013 1:54 pm

    While I would never throw termagant around at someone else, at least now I’ll know if someone is insulting me with it. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! I’d never heard of any of these. Kate is like an obscure word guru, it seems!

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