Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wondrous Words Wednesday: Brave New Words

Word up!  I'm having too much fun.  I enjoy the time I spend with words, playing Words with Friends, doing the jumble in the newspaper, thinking about words.  Sometimes, my love of words actually shortens my reading time.  At nighttime, I might elect to play a few rounds of Words with Friends (I have about 15 games going right now), and before I know it, it's too late to pick up my current book--that happened to me last night.  Consequently, once again, my words this week are not from books, but from my 365 New Words-a-Year calendar, a steady source of brave new words.

1. balneology: the science of the therapeutic use of baths

At the end of the season, the girls' cross-country team took a field trip to the spa that uses balneology to treat sore and injured muscles.

Gellért pool, courtesy of Wikipedia
Doesn't this look inviting?  Pictured is the effervescent pool in the "Spa City" of Budapest, Hungary.  The Gellért Spa and Baths complex there features thermal baths, small pools of water from local mineral hot springs.  I've enjoyed visiting hot springs in the U.S. as well as Mexico.  Although the word "balneology" has existed for only about 130 years, the healing powers of mineral baths have been touted since ancient times.

2. mahatma: a person revered for high-mindedness, wisdom, and selflessness; a person of great prestige in a field or profession

The gentle teacher was seen as a mahatma, who inspired students to strive for excellence and to love learning.

Gandhi, courtesy of Wikipedia
I'll remember how to spell this word through syllabification: ma-hat-ma.  This word is an adaptation of the Sanskrit word mahatman, which means great-souled. As an uncapitalized English noun, "mahatma" can refer to any great person.  In India, it's meant as a title of love and respect.  When the word is capitalized, it refers to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the venerated leader who helped guide India to independence in 1947.  He's known as "Mahatma Gandhi" or just "the Mahatma", but not surprisingly, Gandhi was humble and didn't refer to himself in this manner.

3. sub rosa: in confidence; secretly

In Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, the girls often met sub rosa because they were not supposed to read and discuss books.

Sub rosa simply means "under the rose" in New Latin.  Since ancient times, the rose has been associated with secrecy and confidentiality.  In Greek mythology, Cupid gave a rose to Harpocrates, the god of silence, to keep him from speaking about Venus' indiscretions.  Another example of this association is that roses have often been placed over confessionals, intended as symbols that indicate confidentiality.  However, should you receive a bouquet of roses from a romantic partner, do not assume that the roses mean that your relationship is to be kept secret; more likely, your sweetie doesn't know about the connection between roses and secrets. ;)

Hosted by Kathy from BermudaOnion's Weblog, Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme that caters to those who enjoy discovering words.  What new words have you encountered recently?


  1. When I saw mahatma, I instantly thought of rice. I'd forgotten that was Gandhi's title. Great words today!

    1. Kathy, that's funny about the rice! This meme is so fabulous--you could really have a great blog dedicated solely to words.

  2. This is such a great meme. Someday I'm going to do this.

  3. I'm just OCD enough that the mineral bath doesn't look inviting to me at all...I feel like the little elephant on the Disney version of Tarzan who was a germaphobe..."Looks questionable to me" :P

    1. Germs are everywhere, Peppermint Ph.D.. The only time I might worry about them is in a waiting area at a doctor's office, or in the cold remedy section of a drugstore (which I rarely wander into). I love the idea of healing, therapeutic waters. :)

  4. Great words, my favourite this week is definitely balneology.

  5. These are awesome new words, the definitions of all three were new to me. Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Your calendar sounds like a gem. I like knowing about sub rosa...

  7. These are great words today, Suko! I have heard sub rosa used a lot, but now I know what it means! Thanks for sharing these, and their explanations with us today!

  8. Wonderful words and that first picture just looks heavenly!


  9. A lot of great words today. It is interesting all the new words I learn while reading. I love the e-readers, because when I run across a new word the meaning is right at my fingertip.

  10. I always love these posts because I like learning new words and what they mean :) Especially when I play words with friends as well...I hate when someone plays a word and I don't recognize it :)

  11. mahatma i knew..
    sub rosa i had heard but now i really know..
    and the first one - new..

  12. Not sure if I've learned any new words other than the ones you just posted but I just had to say I'm a Words with Friends addict too. ;-)

    Renee C.


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