Hello hello. Let’s have a Wordjoy this week. New entries have been piling up in my notebook … more entries than I realized, even though I have blemmyae twice.
Blemmyae are mythical hairy men with their faces on their chests. Legend has them living anywhere in the Mediterranean region. There are lots of drawings of them in old manuscripts–easy to Google if you’re curious. How they turned up in my list twice is interesting, but might have something to do with my following a Twitter account about ancient manuscripts.
Limacine means sluglike. A sugarbush is a stand of trees, usually maple but sycamore works too, that is exploited for syrup-making in the springtime. To spinebash is to loaf around the house. Froward, which isn’t at all like forward, means perverse or ungovernable. Much like my five-year-old daughter at the moment.
A stiver, I mentioned in the last Wordjoy, is the smallest possible amount of something–a meaning also given to scruple. A lodestone is something that attracts strongly. To obnubiate is to darken or obscure (or to make tenebrous, a previous Wordjoy entry).
A saltern is a set of pools used to evaporate seawater to make salt. These are important fixtures in any ancient seaside community, and were lined with a kind of ceramic called briquetage. Briquetage is coarse and cheap. When the salt had fully dried inside it, it was broken up to remove the salt. That brings to mind old-fashioned bee skeps and gums, which are meant to be torn apart to get at the honey inside.
To flense is to clean a whale carcass of skin and fat. Flench is a dialectal variation.
Potash is a potassium-containing salt, manufactured by humans for use as fertilizers. It’s a portmanteau of pot and ash, because that’s how it used to be made. The word potassium comes from potash.
And perlmutter is the nice German form of mother-of-pearl, the smooth, iridescent nacre inside many kinds of shells.
And there’s the end. Hope you learned something, or that you at least like rolling these words around in your mouth. I do.