Wondrous Words Wednesday is hosted by Bermudaonion’s Weblog. Kathy says: “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”
My words this week are from Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff.
The word diadem is on page 17 (paperback edition) with a definition that didn’t entirely satisfy my curiosity.
The only accessory she needed was one she alone among Egyptian women was entitled to wear: the diadem, or broad white ribbon, that denoted a Hellenistic ruler.
According to my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, diadem comes from a Greek word meaning to bind. It can be synonymous with crown, but specifically refers, as the quote says, to something more like a headband but, like a crown, worn as a badge of royalty.
My other word is materiel. That’s a word I’ve heard a lot and taken it as a posh pronunciation of material. I just happened to notice the different spelling in this sentence on page 151.
For Octavian, Caesar’s adopted son and his former counsel, Cleopatra readied a powerful fleet, loaded down with materiel.
Materiel is from French, in fact my dictionary puts the accent mark over the first e as the first spelling option. It means “equipment, apparatus, and supplies used by an organization or institution.” A much more specific definition than material which can mean lots of things and comes to us through Middle English.