Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wondrous Word Wednesday

Image from this site.
From Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
It would be too ridiculous for me to attempt any thing where I am now, with my little half acre.  It would be quite a burlesque.  (55)

1. a literary or dramatic work that seeks to ridicule by means of grotesque exaggeration or comic imitation
2. mockery usually by caricature
3. theatrical entertainment of a broadly humorous often earthy character consisting of short turns, comic skits, and sometimes striptease acts

I don't know about you but when I think of the word "burlesque" I immediately think strip-tease and feathered fans, large champagne glasses and bubbles.  But it wasn't always like that apparently; I learned something new.  Does it count if the word is not new to me but I learn something new about the word?  I hope so because that's the best I can do.

Also from Mansfield Park
Mrs. Grant and her tambour frame were not without their use. . . . (67)

File:François-Hubert DROUAIS 1763-4. London NG. Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame..jpg
Image from this site.
I couldn't find a definition for this because it is what we would now call an "embroidery hoop" but apparently once was called a "tambour frame."   Tambour is a type of drum and, for anyone who has used a tambour frame, the reason for calling it such makes perfect sense given how, when the fabric is perfectly taut you can get a nice "drum" effect from it.  I myself stopped using embroidery hoops and frames ages ago but it's still interesting to learn a bit more history.  I like "tambour frame" more than I like "embroidery hoop," that's for sure.

And again, from Mansfield Park

A few steps farther brought them out at the bottom of the very wall they had been talking of; and standing back, well shaded and sheltered, and looking over a ha-ha into the park, was a comfortable sized bench, on which they all sat down.  (98)

From wikipedia:

The haha fence
Image from this site.
Ha-ha is a term in garden design that refers to a trench, one side of which is concealed from view, designed to allow an unobstructed view from a garden, pleasure-ground, or park, while maintaining a physical barrier in one direction, usually to keep livestock out that are kept on an expansive estate or parcel. It also may be used to mean a ditch, one side of which is vertical and faced with stone, the other face sloped and turfed, making the trench, in effect, a retaining wall, sometimes known as a "deer leap."

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