Booking Through Thursday: Vocabulary

Vocabulary April 17, 2008


Filed under: Drafts — –Deb @ 1:11 am 

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Suggested by Nithin:

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?


Rarely will I stop to look up a word.  I can generally figure out what it means by the context.  I’m always a little surprised when I run across a word that is so unfamiliar that I can’t even guess what it means.  I get annoyed by an author who uses 5-star words in every other sentence.  Just say it already!!  Don’t try to impress me with your ginormous vocabulary!

A book I read last year was like that in certain places.  Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer was, for the most part, an easy read.  I read it for my book club.  One sentence that I marked to read aloud at our meeting had 3 words that, not only did I not know them, I HAD NEVER EVEN SEEM THEM BEFORE.  I’ll write it here and you can guess which words I’m referring to:

“He liked the community’s stasis, it’s plebeian virtues and unassuming mien.”  pg. 18

Alrighty, then!  Obviously, Krakauer was showing off his big brain.  But I’d rather just read and not have to stumble on words that are rarely used in everyday language, not once, twice, but THREE TIMES in one sentence.  

My 10 year old generally asks me when she comes across a word she doesn’t know.  I usually tell her, “Look it up!” when we’re home, but the other day she asked me the meaning of a word while in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  We were both reading our books.  She’d just started The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patton, a Newberry Award winner, 5 minutes before, when she loudly asked, “Mom, what does ‘scrotum’ mean?” 6 sets of eyeballs whipped around to look at us as I stammered, “Ummm, why do you want to know?”  “Because it’s right here in my book.”  My response:  “Let me see that book!”  When I explained what it was, she said, “I don’t think I want to read this book anymore!”

How do you handle it when you come across an unfamiliar word?