Thursday, January 06, 2011

What's in a Word

Sometimes when the kids ask me what a word means I like to look it up with them. This helps them learn how to find things for themselves, and prevents me from looking stupid if I have a momentary lapse in my vocabulary. When the Epic Mickey game came out JD wanted to know what "epic" meant. After a few explanations from me, we looked it up for better synonyms to help him understand. The one that clicked with him was "heroic". Then he started noticing how often people contort that word, and it seemed to bother him.
Sometimes when we look up a word it gives new insight. One of my all time favorite examples of this comes from my mom looking up "patience" and finding "waiting without complaint" For some reason, that painted just the right word picture for me.
Today I was looking to defend the continued existence of handwritten letters. The best word I could think of to describe how I felt was "romance", but I wanted to convey that I didn't mean that in a hearts and flowers kind of way. After looking up the definition I have a whole new outlook on what it means to be romantic. It is really an act so impractical that the sheer act of doing it expresses love. That is EXACTLY what a handwritten letter is. For years my husband has been asking what I think makes something romantic, and I finally have an answer and can explain why romance doesn't have to cost a dime.
I really love the English language!
Do you have a favorite word meaning?

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