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Wondrous Words Wednesday

September 9, 2015

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!

I found several new words in The Theft of Memory by Jonathan Kozol.

1. nostrum – “What I mean is that his doctor and, on occasion, others who were tending to my father, when they spoke to me about his situation, tended to employ what always sounded like a scripted nostrum, redolent of what one might expect to find in books of pop psychology, about “the quality of life” versus the worth of life itself.”

Nostrum is a noun with a couple of meanings.  In this case, I think the author meant a usually questionable remedy or scheme: panacea.


2. immiseration – “I had not become involved in civil rights out of ideology but out of the sense that, if I stepped back from the fray, I would be avoiding an obligation that belonged to people of my age at that moment in our history – a feeling that was deepened by the visceral experience of teaching my young students and observing the conditions of immiseration in the neighborhood in which they lived.”

Immiseration is the act of making miserable.


3. emend – “The empathetic way in which he spoke of “principled resistance” struck me, when I read this, not as a rejection of his earlier beliefs but certainly as a rather daring emendation of anything I’d known him to express before.”

Emend means to correct, usually by textual alterations.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

17 Comments leave one →
  1. September 9, 2015 8:05 am

    I knew amend. The other two I had an idea about. Great words!

  2. September 9, 2015 9:11 am

    immiseration is a cool word. I hope I can use that one day.

  3. September 9, 2015 9:15 am

    I love that you used panacea in your definition of nostrum. I bet there’s some people who don’t know that one!

  4. September 9, 2015 9:31 am

    Not sure I’ve seen emend before!

  5. September 9, 2015 11:21 am

    I find emend interesting. I don’t see the difference between it and amend. I hope this isn’t like affect and effect. I always have trouble with those two.

  6. September 9, 2015 11:43 am

    These are all new to me. I’m with Margot on emend/amend.

  7. Beth Hoffman permalink
    September 9, 2015 12:15 pm

    I got two out of three, nostrum is new to me. Great words, Kathy!

  8. September 9, 2015 12:33 pm

    Hi Kathy,

    I know of nostrum and emend (although I generally find myself using amend), however immiseration is new to me. This sounds like quite an easy one to drop into a conversation though and could make for some puzzled and interesting looks!!

    Even though ‘The Theft Of Memory’ isn’t a book I would read, although perhaps I should as my own FIL has recently been diagnosed, it does sound really interesting and informative – and is obviously a source of some excellent new words 🙂

    Thanks for sharing and hosting WWW


  9. September 9, 2015 12:37 pm

    And here I thought nostrum would have something to do with a nose. Great words today – the book sounds moving too.

  10. September 9, 2015 12:39 pm

    New words for me. I think I should have known immiseration, though.

  11. September 9, 2015 2:56 pm

    good words to learn again, thanks

  12. September 9, 2015 3:35 pm

    I knew emend but not the others.

  13. bookingmama permalink
    September 9, 2015 3:37 pm

    All were new to me… as was the book!

  14. Patty permalink
    September 9, 2015 4:29 pm

    I probably would not be able to use these at any time in my life!

  15. September 10, 2015 12:32 am

    Excellent, new to me words, Kathy!

    I can’t play along today but here is a word from my from my word calendar (9/7): berceuse: a musical composition usually in 6/8 time that resembles a lullaby; lullaby

  16. September 10, 2015 1:11 am

    nostrum seems like a word I could use, if not only to confuse folk in meetings

  17. September 10, 2015 1:15 pm

    I HAD to look up the difference between amend/emend:

    To amend is (1) to change for the better, (2) to put right, or (3) to alter by adding. The word’s corresponding noun is amendment.

    Emend means to improve by editing (especially a text). Its corresponding noun is emendation. Emend is rare because it’s mainly confined to contexts related to professional writing and editing.

    More than you wanted to know on this Wednesday noon, huh? LOL! Oh wait…today is Thursday. Headdesk.

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