Friday Morning Bookclub

May 4, 2011

Merrythought ???? Spindleshanked???

Filed under: Dictionary — susanbright @ 9:21 am

 I am having so much fun with my deck of Rarefied Words for the Well-Rounded Reader! The words are taken from Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of 1755, so needless to say, most of them are words I had never heard of! Here is another unfamiliar yet fun word! Merrythought!

Merrythought– A forked bone on the body of fowls; so called because boys and girls pull in play at the two sides, the longest part broken off betokening priority of marriage.

Let him not be breaking merrythoughts under the table with my cousin.

[John Eachard, c.1639-1697, author of The Ground and Occasions of the Contempt of the Clergy and Religion-ed.]

Yes! A  merrythought is what we would call today a wish bone, something I always set aside to dry after carving a turkey! The term merrythought was used in both Britain and American until about 1900. The person who walked away with the larger  piece would be the first to marry!

Does anyone know what spindleshanked means?

April 21, 2011


Filed under: Dictionary,Literary Tidbits — susanbright @ 9:36 am

From time to time, while reading, I come across a word that I am not familiar with. Usually I can get the gist of it’s means from the context of the sentence but other times I am totally stumped. If I am reading an E Book on my Kindle with it’s built-in dictionary, I am in luck and actually look up the meaning. Other times, I stick a book mark in and many times that is as far as it goes. So when Bonnie gave me a set of Knowledge Cards, I was intrigued. I now have 45 new “Rarefied Worlds for the Well Rounded Reader” to learn, most of which I could not use in a sentence if my life depended on it. To be fair with myself, these words are from the Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of 1755,  and many are Latin, which unfortunately I never took in school. I thought I would start with the word JIGGUMBOB! What a great word!  Although I could not find it in the dictionary, according to the card it means exactly what it sounds like!

jiggumbob– A trinket; knick- knack; a slight contrivance in machinery.

He rifled all his pokes and fobs

Of gimcracks, whims and jiggumbobs. 

Hudibras, p. iii (Samuel Butler, 1612-1680, satirical poet-ed.)

If I were to clean out my top desk drawer, I would find all kinds of jiggumbobs!

Does anyone know what EPITHALAMIUM means?

Thank you, Cristine!

Epithalamium– A nuptial song; a compliment upon mariage.

I presume to invite you to these sacred nuptials; the epithalamium sung by a crowned muse.

Sandys’s Paraphrase. [George Sandys, 1578-1644, poet and translator-ed.]

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