15 November 2006

Wordhaven: A Place To Spend My Time

It is without any remorse that I am a word nerd. When polled by a recent rhetorical question from another blog, I was asked what I'm a nerd about. Without hesitation and without doubt, I am a word nerd. Now what does this mean, you ask?

There are a variety of ways that I would categorize this nerdiness. Before I reveal everything about my word obsession, let me ask you a few questions to see if you are a word nerd too....

  • Do you prefer going to the dictionary rather than using dictionary.com?
  • Do you receive a word of the day by email or use a word of the day calendar?
  • Would you prefer to play scrabble or a word game like boggle rather than watch a movie?
  • Do you know the meaning of MF after a word in the dictionary?
  • Have you ever taken a "History of the English Language" class?

If you answered yes to any of the above, you probably qualify. For me, what gets me going is not only the word and its meaning but rather an entire well rounded look at the word. To me this includes knowing the various definitions, synonyms and antonyms, the history of the word (etymology) (like did it come from Middle French or Old English), and the first time it was used or added to the dictionary. Believe it or not, all of this information is usually readily available in your local Webster's edition.

You know how weird stuff sneaks back up to you as an adult from your childhood? I think that my weird obsession with dictionaries and words began when I was in 3rd grade. My Dad was my teacher and despite the fact that I was one of the more capable kids in the class (my words not his), I could never find words in the dictionary. We would have these little timed periods where we'd be asked to find certain words. I actually remember vividly smashing my tear streaked face into the black and white print to avoid having to have eye contact with any of my classmates or my teacher. I was frustrated. I couldn't find the words. Here I am today, the exact opposite.

So, when you see a word you've never heard of before, you hear someone saying a word you've never used, or you wonder to yourself how a word came to be...don't let that thought go. Follow it up and find out the meaning. Or better yet, post a comment on this blog so I can add it to my knowledge base.

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