January 8 - 30, 2003
Decade by decade our colloquial language has changed. Words used to describe common tools, household items and topics are not commonly used. This exhibit provides a selected A-Z look at words that are obscure or infrequently used in our day to day language. Some works are illustrated with pictures, while others show the actual objects, courtesy of Hamersly Library Staff.
display on pastWords


A is for Awl : a pointed tool for marking surfaces or piercing small holes (as in leather or wood)

B is for Buttonhook : a hook for drawing small buttons through buttonholes on clothing or shoes

C is for Colonnade : a series of columns placed at regular intervals

D is for Demijohn : a large narrow-necked bottle usually enclosed in wickerwork

E is for Epergne : an often ornate tiered centerpiece consisting of a frame of wrought metal (often silver or gold) bearing dishes, vases, or candle holders or a combination of both

F is for Farthingale : a support (as of hoops) worn especially in the 16th century beneath a skirt to expand it at the hipline

G is for Guipure : a heavy large-patterned decorative lace

H is for Hammerstone: used to flake large areas in making flint tools

I is for Inkwell : a container for ink

J is for Jabot : 1. a fall of lace or cloth attached to the front of a neckband, worn in the 18th century 2. a pleated frill of cloth or lace attached down the center front of a woman's blouse or dress

K is for Kohl : a preparation used especially in Arabia and Egypt to darken the edges of the eyelids

L is for Lye Soap : boiled lard and lye water make lye soap. Lye soap wasn't made for the purpose of personal hygiene, but it was made to soften and de-louse textiles.

M is for Mortise : a hole or slot into which some other part fits or passes; a cavity cut into a piece of material (as timber) to receive a tenon

N is for Nimbus : an indication (as a circle) of radiant light or glory about the head of a drawn or sculptured divinity, saint, or sovereign

O is for Ovolo : a rounded convex molding, often a quarter section of a circle or ellipse.

P is for Parapet : a low wall or small barrier to protect the edge of a platform

Q is for Quern : a hand-mill for grinding grain made of two circular stones

R is for Riparian : relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater

S is for Snood : a net or fabric bag pinned or tied on at the back of a woman's head for holding the hair

T is for Tatting : a delicate handmade lace formed usually by looping and knotting with a single cotton thread and a small shuttle

U is for Ullage : the amount that a container (as a tank or cask) lacks of being full

V is for Vexillology : the study of flags

W is for Washboard : a corrugated rectangular surface that is used for scrubbing clothes or as a percussion instrument

X is for Xylograph : (wood engraving) the art of making engravings on wood especially for printing

Y is for Yawl : a fore-and-aft rigged sailboat carrying a mainsail and one or more jibs with a mizzenmast far aft; a jolly boat

Z is for Zither : a stringed instrument having usually 30 to 40 strings over a shallow horizontal soundboard and played with pick and fingers

LOCATION: 2nd floor Gallery.
Curator: Jerrie Lee Parpart 

Special thanks to Michele Kliever, Kathleen Casey and Carol Tripp for loaning items from their private collections for this exhibit.

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This page was modified April 15, 2008 jch & sdo