How Well Do you REALLY Know Everyday Words?

My granddaughter uses the word ‘random’ to mean strange, weird, or outrageous (I think). We most often learn the meanings of words through context. But what if the word has been hijacked, and you’ve learned the wrong definition?

Over the years I’ll read the dictionary just for fun. While my Dad was in his sickbed, we entertained each other by mulling

My Dad loved vocabulary.

over new words. We watched Bill O’Reilly, because he throws out unusual words, challenging viewers to expand their vocabularies. Bill once suggested that viewers be perspicacious. “Look it up,” he said. Dad claimed O’Reilly is a narcissistic pontificator, but enjoyed The Factor‘s word-of-the-day and admits O’Reilly is right– at least about vocabulary.

Now . . . if I could remember the meanings of all those fabulous words! My grandson once asked what super power I’d wish for. A photographic memory, that’s what I want. (By the way, five-year-old Sean thinks that his best super power is the ability to not step in dog poop in the yard.)

Super Pooper

While critiquing a manuscript from an author in my writers’ group the other night, I stumbled over the phrase ‘Scott-free’. That’s a common phrase, but it bothered me, so I clicked open my dictionary to find ‘scot-free’. I learned something new! A scot is a tax or assessed contribution. It has nothing to do with a guy from Glasgow.

My critique group will catch most second-draft errors, but I keep my dictionary open on my screen when revising. Mistakes would distract readers from the story and get my manuscript rejected. I want my work to be polished and ready for publishing, so I question words and phrases I’ve taken for granted. Besides, it’s fun!

Are you the gifted-sort whose words roll off smoothly, ready to print, or must you search, polish, and refine? What do you do to hone your vocabulary skills? Scrabble anyone?

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