Secret Word Wednesday Explained

In you’ve been following us on Twitter, you know that every Wednesday we play a secret word guessing game. The rules are simple. Read the clues, tweet your guesses, then check the pronunciation in the upper right hand corner of the word page for Pee-wee Herman‘s enthusiastic proclamation to see if you’re right. If multiple players guess the correct word, the fastest tweet wins. The prize is a bit of Wordnik swag and bragging rights.

Today’s secret word was fascicle:

  1. A bundle; a small collection or connected group; a cluster. Specifically— In bot.: A close cluster, as of leaves, flowers, etc.: sometimes limited in use to a condensed cyme.
  2. In mosses, the tissue of elongated cells taking the place of fibrovascular bundles in the nerves, etc.
  3. In zoology and anatomy, a fasciculus.
  4. A part of a printed work: a small number of printed or written sheets bound together.

The first clue today was a newlywed may throw one, referring to the meaning, “a close cluster. . .of flowers.” Of course we were purposefully ambiguous.  Which newlywed?  Bride or groom?  And players guessed appropriately with hissy fit, garter, penny, bash, charivari (terrific word!) and the closest guess, bouquet.

The second clue was some extra reading, referring to the definition, “a small number of printed or written sheets bound together.”  @linguajinks guessed appendix, which fits this clue but not the first, though of course she qualified, “I’m sure lots of newlyweds throw away one of those. It’s not like they really need them anyway, right?” A new wedding tradition?

The third clue was a bundle of nerves, which we meant literally – a fasciculus is a bundle of nervous tissue – and not figuratively: “A person with an especially nervous, excitable, or fearful disposition.” And with that clue, last week’s winner @northboundlane got fascicle! “A good spelling bee word,” she quipped. We agree.

Bonus clues weren’t needed today, but we wrote them so here they are.  Today’s first bonus clue was the Belle of Amherst had 40, the “Belle of Amherst” referring to Emily Dickinson (also known as the Nun of Amherst) and “40” referring to her 40 fascicles, or small booklets, of poetry. The second bonus clue was a pinched this in your “calf” may require “ices.” By now you know that quotes indicate an anagram, in this case “calf” and “ices” rearranged to spell fascicle.  In addition, the sentence itself refers to the “bundle of nerves” meaning of the word.

Congrats again to repeat winner @northboundlane!  Remember, you have a chance to win Secret Word Wednesday every week!  Just follow us on Twitter.