Word + Quiz: castanets

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Word + Quiz: castanets

: a percussion instrument consisting of a pair of hollow pieces of wood or bone (usually held between the thumb and fingers) that are made to click together (as by Spanish dancers) in rhythm with the dance

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The word castanets has appeared in six articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Jan. 26 in the Opinion essay “A Seed in Darkest Winter” by Margaret Renkl:

NASHVILLE — For most of my adult life, I wore a red coat when the weather got cold. It started when I was 22 and searching for new outerwear during my first winter in Philadelphia. (It turned out to be my only winter in Philadelphia.) I kept being drawn to a bright red peacoat in a mail-order catalog. Perhaps it reminded me of home in Alabama, the color of the ubiquitous cardinals perched among green pine needles.

…. For decades afterward, I stuck with that red-coat cure for the wintertime blues, but four years ago the zipper broke on my latest red coat, and I couldn’t find a replacement I liked. Turns out it didn’t matter. Somewhere along the way I had stopped hating winter. I fell in love with the way the peeling bark and bare limbs of the sycamore reveal a ghost tree reaching for the sky, and the way the faded beech leaves cling to their branches and rustle in the wind like castanets. A shivering beech tree in a damp winter forest gives off its own light in the same way that dogwood blossoms in springtime look like tiny ground-borne suns.

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