When I was little, my mom used to tell tale of a mysterious uncle of hers who would, every morning, wake up and read a page of the dictionary. Maybe she made it up so that I would take an interest in doing it myself (it lasted about a week), because who would read the dictionary? I mean, who has the time, strength of will, and attention span for something like that? Well, besides Ammon Shea.
Words are so astonishing in their forms, histories, and scope of meanings that you'd be a fool not to want to know as many as possible. But again, there are so many, and it's so hard to find the time/energy/lack of anything good on TV to watch to sit down with a dictionary and read it. With that in mind, here are a few ways that you can learn new words simply by pressing a few buttons.
This is my personal favorite. A.Word.A.Day serves up for you seven hot thematically linked words each week. Not only do the folks at AWAD give lively introductions to each word, but along with the definition they also offer notes, pronunciation and the etymology of each word. Also, you can subscribe to AWAD by e-mail! I set my dad up with a free A.Word.A.Day e-mail. He was pretty pleased. Today's word:
2. Distress; depression.
3. Confusion; clamor; uproar.
It makes sense that a dictionary would offer a word of the day, and they are in the business of making sense of things (i.e. thoughts that get conveyed by way of strings of words that form sentences).
Similar to AWAD, you can join the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day e-mail list and have new words injected right into your daily line of sight. They also have a Word of the Day podcast? It's essentially the Word of the Day e-mail, but just as audio. You know, incase you are blind, or love words but hate reading (is that even a thing?)
Along with the definition, pronunciation, and examples, Merriam-Webster also offers some factoids about the word it presents, and has a daily little trivia question. Today's word:
1. Deserving imitation especially because of excellence; commendable
2. Serving as a warning
3. Serving as an example, instance, or illustration
It seems that the NYT isn't only concerned with irritating, and aggravating us with its impossible daily crossword puzzles, but is also showing its desire to see us succeed by offering us the tools for triumph via their Word of the Day. Once again the New York Times shows us that it is aware of, and cares about all of humanity, not just that which exists in New York. Huzzah!
Along with the definition, pronunciation, and the parts of speech, the NYT Word of the Day also supplies for us a Visual Thesaurus entry for the Word of the Day, and the statistics about how many articles the word as appeared in this year. That's pretty neat. But, there's no option for an e-mail subscription. That's a bummer. Today's word:
adjective and noun
1. adjective: perceiving things beyond the natural range of the senses
2. adjective: foreseeing the future
3. noun: someone who has the power of clairvoyance
Still, if you're a Luddite, none of this is going to help you. So, for your Word of the Day, go grab a dictionary, close your eyes, flip it open and point to a random word. There you go!
One more thing, since it's so close to Christmas and all, maybe all of you would be so kind as to pool together $995 and get me the 20 volume Oxford English Dictionary set. Thanks a ton!
My favorite words? Glad you asked!
the needless repetition of an idea, esp. in words other than those of the immediate context, without imparting additional force or clearness, as in "widow woman"
to act in an obsequious manner; show servile deference
1. the erectile hair on the back of an animal's neck; 2. anger, esp. when aroused in a challenging or challenged manner
unusually advanced or mature in development, esp. mental development
something delicious to put in my face
Alright! Tradesies! Gimmie your favorite words!
Courtney Davison is the Editorial Intern for Paper Darts. She loves getting mail, eating snacks and wants to be remembered as (a) part(y) animal. Feel free to stalk her.