My daughters and I love words. When one of us comes across an unusual word we share it with the others, often taking the time to look up the meaning in the dictionary. A friend and fellow author on Facebook, Brandilyn Collins, always posts a word of the day, many of them ones weâ€™ve never heard before. My girlâ€™s favorite so far is â€œtenebrific.â€ The meaning is gloomy or dark, which describes one of their â€œemoâ€ friends at college. We always have a lot of fun rolling new words around on our tongue and trying to think how they would be used in a sentence.
In our quest to look up words, we discovered that some commonly used words have changed drastically over the years. For instance, when we use the word â€œniceâ€ to describe someone, we have visions of a person who treats us with kindness. Perhaps we use â€œniceâ€ to tell a friend about a dress or pair of shoes we found at a store and would like to purchase. Those definitions are listed in the dictionary, but they are not the first or even second definition. Instead, â€œniceâ€ as we know it today is listed as number six in my Websterâ€™s College Dictionary.
We found that the original meaning of â€œniceâ€ came from words that meant strange, lazy, stupid, or foolish. The first definition for â€œniceâ€ is difficult to please. In the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the first definition is obsolete, but means â€œwanton or coy.â€ Nice can also mean â€œpicky, or difficult to please.â€ This puts a whole new slant on referring to a person as â€œnice.â€
As writers words are our business. I love to use less common words throughout my writing. I donâ€™t mind if a reader has to grasp the meaning from the context, or even take the time to look it up in the dictionary. Often, I will stop in the middle of a book to look up a word, and that never takes away from my pleasure in the story. In fact, it often increases my interest in that authorâ€™s work.
How about you? Have you come across words that you enjoy, but which arenâ€™t commonly used? Care to share those with us? Iâ€™d love to see what words you might share with your family.
As if Olivia Merriman doesn’t have enough to do in her beloved town of New Moon Beach, now her grouchy great-grandmother has recruited her to head up their coven of witches; her sisters are miffed, the coven is pushing her to accept the job, and to top it all off an evil wizard is messing with her love life. More info →