Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Those who win at Scrabble or the newer online game,Words with Friends, are word lovers.

Those who successfully complete the morning crossword puzzle in the daily newspaper, or more impressively, the  New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, are usually folks that collect and love words, as well.

Word lovers relish the sounds of certain words, the unusual capacities for special and specific meanings of others, the obscure or unusual words, those with  unlikely or surprising derivations... words... period.

You just might catch a fellow word-lover browsing through the dictionary, even when they are not looking for a specific word.

If you want to write--you probably love words, too  They are the smallest element in your writing toolbox, and just the right one (or the most definitely wrong one) can make or break your sentence, your paragraph, your entire piece.

I am always delighted to discover a new word which meets several of the above characteristics in one swoop.  I keep a list simply labeled WORDS in a file on my computer to which I add such words. Sometimes when I am searching for just the right word, that list comes to my rescue.

Here are the first few words from my file:
Adamantine- (adamant- legendary stone believed to be impenetrable)--hardness or luster of diamond
Afterclap -An unexpected, often unpleasant sequel to a matter that had been considered closed. 
Anomie- instability in society caused by the erosion or abandonment of moral and social codes,.a feeling of disorientation and alienation from society caused by the perceived absence of a supporting social or moral framework
Antipathy- strong hostility or opposition toward somebody or something
Aphorism - a succinct statement expressing an opinion or a general truth
Apotheosis- exaltation to divine rank or stature- deification, an exalted glorified example
Asyndeton- leaving out conjunctions, the omission of conjunctions in sentence constructions in which they would usually be used. ( see Parataxis) 
Aubade- a song poem or piece of instrumental music celebrating or greeting the dawn
Beguine- rhythmic ballroom dance similar to the rumba, originating in the Caribbean
Bifurcation- to be split or branched off into two parts, or split something into two parts, diving in two—separating off into two parts Bombastic- pompous, boastful
Bonhomie- a pleasant and affable disposition, geniality

I used afterclap in a poem--- it perfectly described the results of a particular encounter I was struggling to name.

I have always wondered what Beguine (as in the old song Begin the Beguine) meant and  happened to discover the meaning in a novel.

I love how bombastic sounds exactly like the way arrogant and boastful people talk.

I love each word on the list for a multitude of reasons.

I discovered  The Bibliophile's Dictionary: 2054 Masterful Words and Phrases by Miles Westley in a Half-Price Book Store. Divided into useful categories--Personality Traits, Emotions, The Lowly and Corrupt, Drama, Knowledge, Language and Philosophy, Religions, Myth and Mysticism, Household Objects, and more-- this treasure has not only provided me with new words that I didn't realize I was seeking, yet needed desperately, but has also provided hours of entertainment just perusing the unusual collection.

Young people and adults, alike, delight in words.  It starts in the crib when we babble, and goo-goo for our own amusement.  It continues with  the silly rhymes we loved as children and the naughty limericks that amused us later, and it coalesces in the love of a  well-turned phrase or a perfect word choice,  a magnificent  speech, or a  poem that takes our very breath away.

There are several books about loving and collecting words that will delight young and old.

One of my favorites is The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter. Selig collects words of all sorts and ultimately finds wider purposes for his vast and varied collection.  My fifth graders learned the word rucksack from Selig and for the remainder of that  year continued to use that rucksack instead of backpack.

Max is another collector of words.  His siblings have vast collections of stamps and coins. In Max's Words by Kate Banks,  Max ultimately learns that a  vast collection of words can, perhaps, do more than just a pile of stamps or coins.  With his collection of words he can tell a story.

Have you collected enough words to tell a story?
If so, you may want to share your story with a wider audience.
My friend Kevin Cordi has a perfect way for you to gather your words and share with the world.  Check out the StoryBox Project for opportunities to share your story today.

Tuesday is Vocabulary Day at Webster School and both the trouble and the fun begin when our narrator Sage misunderstands one of her weekly vocabulary words. Sorting out this confusion, as well as taking a peek at all of her vocabulary work in Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster will send writers looking for their own  fun with words.

My newest word collector hero is Michael.  Like Selig and  Max, he collects words.  He collects them everywhere--from signs, TV, ball practice, downtown and school.  In The Very Inappropriate Word by Jim Tobin, Michael's  word collecting takes an unfortunate turn when he hears, and then  widely shares, a bad word.   His punishment leads him to many new words.  

To create your own word collecting heroes, here are several books  that are
must-haves for vocabulary teaching and word work for writers of all ages:

Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction (5th Edition)

And finally,  we close with   a poem by Jason Schneiderman entitled Vocabulary.  This was the poem of the day on Poets.Org recently and what a perfect ending for this post.  Click here to read his poem.

Today's Deeper Writing Opportunities

Begin your own collection of words.  You may keep a file box of cards, a notebook or a list on your computer or tablet.

Select several of your new words and write a  poem or brief paragraph about why you like these particular words.

Write about a time you misused a word. 

Write about a time you found just perfect word for your writing task.

1 comment:

  1. This was posted on Facebook today by The Writer's Circle. How appropriate for this post :-)

    “Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
    - Nathaniel Hawthorne