Monday, July 6, 2009

May I Have a Word with You?

We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary. ~Booker T. Washington

Lately, I have become keenly aware that my vocabulary could use some augmentation. Perhaps it is because I homeschool that I feel the importance of not just being well acquainted with more words for myself, but exposing my daughter to the diversities of our language, even if adding just a word or two a day. Etymology has always intrigued me, but more so now that I am learning Latin and Greek along with my daughter. The subtle nuances and unusual phraseologies created in writing by selective wording truly delight my senses and stimulate my intellect. While I adore a good plot with excellence in writing, if given the choice between poor expression with a good plot and a poor plot with excellent writing style, I would prefer the latter most of the time.

A couple of weeks ago, I began visiting three websites giving a word a day, although one does weekdays only. I also have been adding unfamiliar words I have read. I listed them on an index card reviewing them each day. When I am quite comfortable with its spelling and use, drop it from my list. So far, I have added 45 new words (or new usages of words) to my vocabulary in fifteen days.

I would like to share just a few:
  1. Now, it is likely all of us have defenestrated at some time in our lives and never knew we could use just that one word to describe throwing something or someone out of the window. Defenestrate is pronounced "dee-FEN-uh-strayt." Somehow that makes throwing something out the window sound more impressive, doesn't it?

  2. Bird watchers might not be so impressed with the corvine population since it refers to the common crow.

  3. Nowadays crescent typically refers to a shape of the moon, but originally, it referred only to the increasing illumination phase that immediately follows the new moon as it comes from the Latin "crescere," which means "to grow."

Here are some sites that give a word a day:
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day Word of the Day A Word a Day

I am going use an index card system to teach my daughter two words a day using these sites:
Merriam-Webster's Daily Buzzword
SuperKids Vocabulary Builder - This site has several daily vocabulary words categorized by grade levels!

~ My Lord, I am thankful that I do not need to express in words to You what is in my heart, but language is truly a gift necessary to communicate with others. Guide my daughter and me in learning new words and in using them wisely.~


  1. That is so cool! Corvine I knew ~ birdwatcher here. The id books give the latin families. ☺

    I love new words, especially unusual words. Mithered. Isn't that a great word? To be dazzled by the light.

    You should add your new words to your sidebar so I can see what you guys are learning. ♥

  2. Hm! Another project, Ganeida? Well, if only for you I think I will do it.

    Mithered: Okay, now that is so unusual that I cannot find it at all. Where did you find that definition? All I can find is "bothered, annoyed" and "moan, whine," or "mother" Odd combination that, but two definitions have different etymologies.

    I just learned a word today that I think you might like since it has Hebrew origins: shibboleth.

  3. Oh yes, shibboleth I know! lol Those Lord Peter Wimsey books taught me all sorts of odd words! I actually used it in a post a while back.

    Mithered is a dialect word from the middle of England. Alan Garner uses it in one of his plays.

    "My eyes are mithered by that light" ~ I mightn't have that quote quite right but it is an absolutely gorgeous word. I like strawn too ~ Scottish dialect meanning stubborn as iron. lol Yeppity~yep, I know some odd ones!

    Give me more, give me more! ☺

  4. I found it!

    "I cannot see. Me eyes are mithered By that light Outside. The bright Flame & wings & the sky All feathered fire: And now the fierce cold star Like a dagger." Alan Garner ~ Holly from the Bongs

  5. That's the one! Bit's of that quote are in my main e~mail thingy.


Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.