20 November 2006

Words that make the world go 'round

As an English teacher, I am supposed to love words and to savor every part of them. Thankfully I do so it makes my job easier. Besides that though, I have come to have a special relationship with particular words for particular reasons.....As I mentioned, quite some time ago, I love making lists. It can make writing fun, it lines up chores so they don't take up valuable brain space, and it makes me feel like I am getting a lot accomplished in a short amount of time. So, in honor of the history of English and the beautiful, complicated, frustrating and complex language that it is, I would like to propose a toast to my favorite words.

  • Brilliant: I love using this as an exclamation for a really great idea or even sarcastically when something 'no-so-good' has occurred. (Comes from French dating back to 1675--a more modern word!).
  • Scrupulous: I'll never forget the day I had to learn this word for school. I looked it up in the dictionary and lo and behold, it said "full of scruples." Well, I could have figured that out for myself. Today I really do know what it means and it is fun to say besides. (Comes from the Middle English and Old French with a dash of Latin dating back to 1350.)
  • Faith/Hope/Charity: These words have obvious religious connotations and wonderful sacred, meanings but they also remind me of three little pocket sized books that were yellow and tucked themselves neatly in a little box. These three books were some of my favorite to slide out of their sleeve and read with my Mom. (Faith dates back to 1200, hope back to before 900 and charity dates back to the 1100's.)
  • Love: Although it may seem cliche and overused, the true meaning of love is even more beautiful than the word, to me. To seek another's highest good is the true meaning of love. The meaning of love cannot be clearly defined, viewed, felt or heard. It is in between all these emotions and sensations, it is invisible and yet it is so necessary. Upon looking at the etymology of this word (its history) I am beginning to understand why this word has so many connotations and varied definitions and is often so misused and misunderstood. It has a mixed bag of roots including Greek, Latin, Old English, Middle English, Goth--dating back to around 900.
  • Lucid: One of my favorite musicians, Sarah McLachlan, had this word in her song "Ice" on the album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy and it always stuck with me as a beautiful sounding and mysterious meaning word. (From the Latin 'lucidus' dating back to 1575)
  • Pedagogy: A word almost as difficult to say as it is to define, an academic word that conjures all sorts of funny mental pictures of aging professors, and an insightful word that means the "art of teaching." I like that, the art of teaching. It makes it sound so glamorous! (Greek dating back to 1575)
  • Irony: Like many of my influences in life, this word brings an extremely funny scene from a movie to mind, and appeals to me greatly as a word lover. Watch Reality Bites for all the details. "Well, I cannot define irony but I know it when I see it!" (comes from Latin and Greek roots, dating back to 1495)
  • Reverence: A word meaning something deeper than respect and filled with love and devotion (comes from the Middle English (ME) word dating back to 1250-1300).
Feel free to let me know what words you love! I may continue to add to my list. I continue to add to my addiction by subscribing to dictionary.com's word of the day! Have a wordy day.


andi said...

Oh, you know how much I love "irony " b/c of "Reality Bites" too! You know, we still have never watched that movie TOGETHER- we have to soon!

Two of my favorite words are "lovely" and "grace"...

Kari said...

I like the word "pancake"