or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Monday, December 03, 2007

Fringe Festival

Here's a word you've probably never seen before, will almost certainly never have a chance to use, and likely wouldn't be that interested in anyway, because it has no etymological connection to any other word in English--but it's so cool!

Of all the flowers, the one I love the scent of most is the carnation, with its fascinatingly divided personality--crisply floral on one hand, ferociously spicy on the other. I madly love two carnation scents, Comme Des Garçons Carnation and Caron Coup de Fouet, and was reading about a third that I'm thinking I must someday own, Floris Malmaison, when I read this description of the Malmaison carnation from which the scent gets its name:

...wonderfully opulent, with deeply fimbriated petals bursting from jade calyxes like bosoms of Edwardian beauties and as powerfully scented....

"Fimbriated"! What a word!

It comes from the Latin "fimbriatus", "fringed", which in turn is from "fimbria", a fringe. It's generally an anatomical word, or a botanical one: the Fallopian tubes are fimbriated (or fimbriate, as long as you pronounce that last vowel sound as a schwa and not a long "-a-"), as are some flower petals, including many carnations--see?
Except for the quite dead word "fimble", which is related not to "thimble" but to "fumble", there are no other words beginning with "fim-" in English at all, except for the various forms and contortions of "fimbriate". You may never use it--I can't see how you would, unless you were a botanist--but isn't it good to know it exists?


Blogger Frank said...

I love the smell of carnations, too. They have just a hint of cinnamon in them, and cinnamon's about my favorite scent. I know it's terribly vulgar and philistine of me, but I actually prefer carnations to red roses.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 1:14:00 AM  
Blogger pyramus said...

Now why would that be vulgar? I know roses are the Queen of Flowers and all, but I prefer carnations, too; there's something masculine and rough-and-tumble about their scent, and I love the fact that their names means "flesh-coloured", as, it turns out, I wrote about before.

There is a suggestion of cinnamon in the scent of the carnation, and in fact the Comme des Garçons scent has cinnamon in it to boost that aspect of the scent. So does the carnation-based Old Spice, which, despite its old-fogey reputation and its status as a punch line, is an amazingly good scent. If you can find Method products where you live, you really have to check out their new Christmas hand soap, Cinnamon Bark, which is wonderful.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 5:40:00 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

Thanks for the scent suggestions, pyramus. I'll check them out if I ever get a chance.

I never knew Old Spice was carnation-based! Actually, as much of a punchline, as you point out, Old Spice is, I don't think I'd know it if I smelled it. My grandfather wore it when I was little, but I haven't gotten a whiff of it in years.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007 12:44:00 AM  

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