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 In the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the first definition is obsolete, but means â€œwanton or coy.â€ Nice can also mean â€œpicky, or difficult to please.â€ This puts a whole new slant on referring to a person as â€œnice.â€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.