Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermuda Onion, where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our weekly reading.

koan (n) a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment. "We return from sleep with ... the answer to some private koan or scientific question." (p. 238)
amanuensis (n) one employed to write from dictation or to copy manuscript. "It is easy to disparage that ordinary self, the one who listens, the one who pays attention, when so much is given by the dream. Still, as Stevenson pointed out, that humdrum self is an excellent editor and amanuensis, and a more-then-competent secretary." (p. 249)

Words are from World Enough and Time by Christian McEwen. Definitions are from Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.


  1. I recognized amanuensis because I've looked it up before, but couldn't remember it. Hopefully after seeing it again, I will.

    1. I had come across it before too, but couldn't remember what it meant when I saw it here. Hopefully next time I see it I will know.

  2. Hi! These are interesting - I did not know either one! I knew that they had Buddhist monks meditate on paradoxes, but I did not know that they had a special name for them. Nice post, and thanks for sharing :)

  3. Two interesting and new words for me.

  4. I like koan and what it means. I'm going to have to think on that one.

  5. I learnt amanuensis from Bleak House a number of years ago. It's a fabulous word. I've used it out loud- noone has ever challenged it!


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