Monday, August 17, 2009

Word Nerd

Confession time: I love words. And when I say love, I mean love. I mean my desk calendar is "A Word A Day," my favorite board game is Scrabble, and sometimes I read the Dictionary for fun. I'm not exaggerating. Call me a nerd all you want--you wouldn't be the first, and you certainly won't be the last. But I don't really care. I am who I am. And I am a Word Nerd.

When I was a little kid adults joked that I was "four going on forty" because of my vocabulary. My friends even used to call me "Dictionary." But I always took that as a compliment. It wasn't that I was trying to impress people with my fabulous phraseology. I just like words. I pay attention to them. If I don't know what they mean I look them up. And if I like them, I start using them.

I mean, why would I say that carrying a big box is heavy or awkward when I could say cumbersome and imply both, with an added dash of unwieldy? Why say excessive when superfluous is so much prettier and rolls off the tongue like a dance? (Say it with me...superfluous. See what I mean?) I'm not trying to sound pretentious...I'm just trying to pick the best word to do the job. I'm trying to have some variety. I'm trying to have some fun. Fun with words--yes, it is possible.

My obsession got a lot worse when I was in High School. My tenth grade English teacher must have been a fellow Word Nerd, because she made us keep "Personal Lexicons" (I think I was the only kid in the class who already knew what a lexicon was). We had to keep a journal of words, phrases, and clippings that caught our fancy. Collecting words? Why had I never thought of this before? Naturally I was hooked.

I've been keeping a Lexicon ever since (housed in a series of Disney Princess journals for good measure). Some of my favorite entries:

Kerfuffle: a comotion
Bumbershoot: an umbrella
Somnific: causing sleep
Verdant: green with vegetation
Penultimate: next to last

I could go on and on, but I'll stop there. I understand that most people do not share my affection for vocabulary. I don't understand why...but to each their own, I guess.

And now that you know this about me, perhaps you can better understand why I gravitate toward writing. It's not just because it gives me free reign to geek out in word land all day (though that is an added bonus)...but because it gives my words a purpose. They're not just random entries in a journal anymore. They're tools at my disposal, an entire descriptive arsenal to "show not tell" the stories in my head. And someday I'll hopefully string enough of them together to finish my book. I still have a ways to go on that...but I'm enjoying the journey.

In the meantime...Scrabble anyone?


  1. I was just thinking.... there is no way I could play "scrabble" with this girl!

  2. Ah, but sometimes my big vocabulary cripples me. You only get 7 letters, after all. :-)


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