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Wondrous Words Wednesday

May 1, 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!

This week, I have two more words from And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini.

1. titrate – “They had sifted the dirt together, added  straw, and Father had patiently taught him to titrate the water so the mixture didn’t turn runny.”

When I looked up this word, I discovered that titrate means to perform titration, which didn’t help me at all.  I looked up titration and found that it is a method of determining the concentration of a dissolved substance in terms of the smallest amount of reagent of known concentration requited to bring about a given effect in reaction with a known volume of the test solution.  I’m still kind of scratching my head over this word.


2. polemical – “They strike me as polemical, as angry indictments of Afghan gender roles.”

Polemical means of, relating to, or being a polemic: controversial.


3. gnomon – “What did you use for a gnomon?”

I was able to figure this one out by the context, but decided to look it up to be sure.  A gnomon is the interpreter or pointer on a sundial.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

22 Comments leave one →
  1. Brona permalink
    May 1, 2013 4:18 am

    I read this book (I had an ARC) during my recent trip to Bali. It was the perfect holiday read – engrossing but not too taxing. But I don’t remember those words! I suspect it was easier for me to reach for another cocktail rather then a dictionary!
    I like how titrate sounds as it rolls off my tongue, but doubt I will ever have cause to use it.

  2. May 1, 2013 7:31 am

    Titration is useful for water filtration but I wonder if it can also be used to figure out the proper proportions for those layered liquor drinks or black and tans. Because the idea is to take a known concentration of something and add something else and then figure out the concentration based on the difference between the known and the unknown. But it seems to me, when you make a black and tan, it’s sort of the same deal. You want to know at what point one color won’t sink. Or do they never sink? This could be a question for your husband! :–)

    • May 1, 2013 10:04 am

      I must be kind of a “hick”. What is a Black and Tan? A drink?

  3. May 1, 2013 9:40 am

    Wow, rhapsody in books gave a thorough explanation! The definitions you two shared bring my back to chemistry class. Whew! For casual use, in relation to the context, I think of it as slowly adding ingredients to a compound until you get the perfect mix. I’ve even heard of doctors “titrating” a combination of medications until they get the right cocktail to treat high blood pressure.
    How is “And the Mountains Echoed”- will you post a review. I really enjoyed the themes, style and pace of The Kite Runner and would be interested in reading another one of Hosseini’s books

  4. May 1, 2013 9:40 am

    I have Hosseini’s latest on my “to buy” list. Though I knew gnomon I was stumped with the others.

  5. May 1, 2013 9:58 am

    Good choices. We should have to use some of those words in our weekly endeavors. I could probably use titrate in my description of how much milk to add to my crepe recipe.

  6. May 1, 2013 10:03 am

    That definition of titrate was confusing! Rapsodyinbooks does a better job. Can’t wait for your review of this book.

  7. May 1, 2013 10:07 am

    What a great group of words. They were all new to me. I am going to have to go to my online dictionary to hear them pronounced. I wonder if I would you them in my ordinary day to day language. I have Hosseini’s other books on my TBR list. I really enjoyed The Kite Runner.

  8. May 1, 2013 10:12 am

    Titrate was certainly a new one for me. It was fun reading the comments too – esp. Jill’s explanation of the concept.

  9. May 1, 2013 10:42 am

    Hi Kathy,

    All three words were new to me and the definitions made for interesting reading, although I am not sure when I am ever likely to use any of them. The science lesson gave me a headache, I definitley need a drink to illustrate the point, although I am not too keen on the idea of a black and tan … I wonder if the theory would work as well for a large gin and orange!!

    Thanks for hosting,


  10. May 1, 2013 10:53 am

    Well, I knew polemical but never heard the other two before. I’ll have to spring “gnomon” on my husband — he loves sundials, but I’m betting he doesn’t know that one. Thanks for the new words!

  11. May 1, 2013 11:32 am

    Gnomon surprised me. I thought it might be a something relating to a gnome

  12. May 1, 2013 11:52 am

    I’m not sure I get the use of the word titrate in that sentence, either! Gnomon is a very interesting word. Every time I read one of your Wondrous Words posts, I think to myself, I’ve really got to stop and jot down words that I don’t know. I always love reading the new words you’ve found.

  13. May 1, 2013 2:03 pm

    Ooh, ooh, I knew titrate! As a biology major we used that word all the time. All those lab experiments, ya know. I knew those lab courses would come in useful one day!

  14. May 1, 2013 3:32 pm

    I knew polemical, but not the others. Gnomon is wonderful! 🙂

  15. May 1, 2013 4:58 pm

    All interesting words. Gnomon reminds me of gnome.

  16. May 1, 2013 6:01 pm

    These are good ones! Polemical is familiar but the other two had me stumped. Sounds like an interesting book too.

  17. May 1, 2013 7:17 pm

    My goal this week is to use Gnomon in a sentence.
    This may not be easy….

    I also want to protest Jill making beer into a science experiment.

  18. Patty permalink
    May 1, 2013 9:19 pm

    I knew none of those words…when I read words fly in and out of my head way too fast!

  19. May 3, 2013 6:27 am

    You know what, Kathy? I’m going to participate in Wondrous Words Wednesday BUT the Italian version. I hope this is OK with you!

  20. bookingmama permalink
    May 6, 2013 3:08 pm

    So jealous that you are reading this one. My reading time has suffered the past few weeks and I haven’t gotten to it yet.

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