Jul 31 2013

A Review of Words

image for yeah write 31 Days to Build a Better Blog

31 Days to Build a Better Blog -Day 30


            I have a
love of words, as do most writers. Funny quirk though: I hated vocabulary books
when I was in school. “See the word, write the word five times, and then
put the word on the blank side of a flashcard and the definition on the lined
side of the same flashcard.” There were four types of tests which

  • The
    teacher spoke the word and the student wrote it down.
  • Fill
    in the blank sentences.
  • Write
    the word which goes with the definition.
  • Word
    games (crossword, word search, word jumble).


            The trouble
with the first is that, unless someone who already knew the word had helped you
to study, you probably never heard it aloud before. Sure, some words can be
guessed by looking at them, but this American English, and our vocabulary loves
to screw with the rules! “We were reading in Reading, Pennsylvania.”
The city is pronounced “red-ing” (like the color).

            Fill in the
blank is alright, as long as the definition was understandable enough that one
could now use that word successfully in a sentence. Writing the word next to
the definition was the easiest by far, for it was exactly what had been
memorized. The word games were the most fun, but also used the least often.


            I cannot
say that most of my acquired vocabulary came from these lessons. A vast
majority of the words were forgotten after the test. They held no meaning for
me. I had no association with them. Most of the larger words that I learned
came from experiences such as conversations, reading books, or turning the
closed caption on when watching television.

            This is
another example of how unusual I am compared to the majority of people. When I
come across a new word while reading a book, if I can not infer the definition
from the sentence, I will stop to look it up (or make a note to do so later). I
enjoy that. I also remember that word. I have several dictionaries lying around
my home. One, which I had through high school and college, is the most
“used” looking book in my collection. It is battered and bent. The
edges are curled and smoothed. Highlighted marks appear over words that I went
back to several times as I mastered the spelling. (Restaurant, for example.) So
I was thrown off-guard recently when an editor pointed out that I used a
sprinkling of uncommon words which would send my readers to the dictionary- a
task which she implied was not desirable. It seems the rule of writing is:
Never use ­one word when
two or three will be easier to understand


So here is
my review of a few words that I have put to rest.

Low= No Orange Stars=  no stars image
High= Five Orange Stars= 5 star image


theater image

This word
was a reference to a vocal sound range. Heath’s voice is full, round, imposing,
rich, and clear. Those without stage experience are probably unfamiliar with
this word, and also would not understand if I explained that an orotund voice
easily reaches the back of the house.



How I feel about the word =

four stars

The reality = Possibly a typo for rotund.

one star


Shindig – It seems
that people now go to events or parties. The word has fallen from use. A shame,
because I thought this word sounded more fun to say.



How I feel about the word =

three stars

The reality = The word is out of fashion.

one star



Detritus – I’ll admit
that there is not often a cause to use this word. It is material from the
decomposition of organic remains. It is matter composed of animal remains,
leaves and other plant parts, waste products, and other organic debris that
falls onto the soil or into bodies of water. It is one word that encompasses
all that “stuff” which is mixed with flood water. I personally prefer
it to a long list, and I would much rather look up the word
“detritus” than read the word “stuff.” However, if one does
not know what it means, no clear mental visual of such stuff can come into



How I feel about the word =

four stars

The reality = The meaning cannot be easily inferred.

one star


image of two shades of blue

Phthalo blue – I love
this particular shade of blue. Sadly, the name doesn’t appear in a
typical crayon box, and therefore is not well known. I’m using
navy blue instead.



How I feel about the word =

four stars

How I feel about the color =

5 star image

The reality = Few people care enough about a shade of blue
to look it up!

no stars image



And that is
my review. What are your thoughts? Have you put any words out to pasture to
keep from confusing others?




yeah write challenge 120 image from site


Skip to comment form

    • Joe on July 31, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    Now that I do most of my reading electronically, it’s painless to look up new vocabulary on the fly. Right-click and up pops the definition. I love it.

  1. I love the word shindig! By golly, I’m going to work it into one of my upcoming posts.

    Re: detritus-I used it in a post about my son playing with scraps of fallen leaves and then looked it up to see how far off the mark I was. I was shocked that I had unintentionally used the word correctly. I thought it meant bits of stuff in the most generic way possible.

  2. I love words, (go figure, I’m an English major) so this post was right up my alley. Orotund is a great word. And bravo for adding phthalo blue as well. It’s my favorite color! Talk about an art/literature/theater geek out moment for me! Great job!

    • Andrea on August 1, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    We use shindig all the time around here! My step-mother keeps classics like “shenanigans” and “hijinx” in the mix as well!

  3. I love my Kindle app because I have learned more words while reading than ever before.

  4. “Detritus” is my favorite word. 😉

  5. Phthalo blue always reminds me of the painter Bob Ross. And I had a group of friends in high school who always had shindigs on Friday nights. I like both of those words very much.

    • J Lenni Dorner on August 2, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    I am glad to read that you bother with the seconds that it takes to learn new vocabulary! 

    • J Lenni Dorner on August 2, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    And I love the word golly. We should bring it back. Ha ha ha.

    • J Lenni Dorner on August 2, 2013 at 1:21 AM

    Thank you so much! Sounds like you and I would be great friends. 

    • J Lenni Dorner on August 2, 2013 at 1:26 AM

    What in the world do people replace hijinks with? (That seemed to be the spelling my dictionary was willing to accept.) The thesaurus suggests horseplay. Really? That’s like replacing lemonade with water that has a lemon wedge hanging on the cup. 

    • J Lenni Dorner on August 2, 2013 at 1:27 AM

    Exactly. And you sound happy about it! Why would a reader not want to learn new words? When did people stop aiming for self improvement? 

    • J Lenni Dorner on August 2, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    Thank you! I’m glad you have a rarely used word in your vocabulary. 

    • J Lenni Dorner on August 2, 2013 at 1:29 AM

    I am glad that someone else knows what I’m talking about here. Good to know that I’m not all alone in the world of words.

Comments have been disabled.

%d bloggers like this: