Words I collect. And why?


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I have a slim notebook which I carry in my purse most places I go – not a journal (a different affair altogether) – but a traditional *note* book. That is, I take notes about things in it as I go about my business. Notes about paintings that come into my view, the words that come out of the mouths of my friends, snatches of character and poem that come to me at odd times.

A new habit, this notebook, having realized last year that not blessed with a good memory, I was losing so many potential images and stories by not writing them down when they were in front of me. I now have a year’s worth of shopping lists and random quips to page through in my idle moments – yet one more record of my thinking on top of the blog, the journal and the photo collection (how much does one person need to document their life anyhow?) Questions about ego aside, a new notebook will be started soon as this one grows worn and full.

As a result of keeping this notebook, I have found myself more than ever recording words to look up later, or to define more precisely for myself. Why the notebook engenders this I’m not entirely sure, except that words are no long passing questions but instead fixed for investigation and incorporation into my vocabulary. Only problem is, some of them are a bit obscure which scares me off using ’em. Might as well stick them here anyways, along with the why of my current fascinations:

Lucipetal: Truly, this is my favourite word of the past year (loo-see-pital). So much so that I “gave” it to a friend for his birthday. Ever since I found it, I am continually thinking about this word and how to use it. While it is easy to use (attracted to light), I almost never employ it in realtime because I am aware that using uncommon vocabulary can be alienating.

Prolixity: When I first met Michael, he gave this word to me which made me instantly like him (it may even be the reason we became friends since we are both guilty of it). It means long-winded or given to an excess of words (a synonym would be verbosity). See what I mean? I am often prolix. And in public too!

Coruscate: I think I just like words that have to do with light. Coruscate means to emit sparkling, flashing, light – but this word sounds so far from what it means, I had to look it up when I first encountered it. It’s lovely though, that there is a word for the emission of sparkly and glittery light.

Triumvirate: I discovered this while using the thesaurus to improve a sentence on this blog. Simply a much more pompous way of saying trio. An alignment of three proudly stated.

Shibboleth: From Hebrew, this word has many nuances – all of which imply a catchphrase, or a mode that identifies one group from another. Think of a special knock with which the door opens, a passphrase which gets you from one place to another in the dead of night, a way to recognize a fellow traveller on the same political road…. A connector, a slithery secret, a bond of rope and light. (The biblical reference and background may be found here.)

Murrain: Given the times we live in, I am often attracted to words synonymous with collapse. A new one for my arsenal. Plague, pestilence, disease.

Theophany: This one is brand new to me (not coming from a religious background, I am hampered by religious references) – the appearance of God to an individual. A concept I don’t entirely reject, but mostly I just love the way this word rolls out. Stressed right, it is entirely poem.

And a couple more – not new words, but which I have discovered new love for recently just the same:

Fortuitous: Because it sounds so much like what it is, and such a happy lucky word! She is simply fortuitous – abundant with accidental luck! Serendipity but less flaky sounding.

Penultimate: And this one because it sounds like what it is not. I have often used this word incorrectly – to mean, greater than ultimate… and I did that for years until someone corrected me and I looked it up. Ooops. It means actually second to ultimate – as in, the penultimate chapter in the book. And I’ve noticed that I am not the only one who uses this incorrectly. I don’t do it anymore, and I love this word even more because of it’s weirdness.

Enough word geekery? I think so. Perhaps next time I will regale you with the odd quotes I’ve collected in the same notebook. We’ll have to see about that.

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