I love words. I subscribe to all sorts of Word-a-days. I adopted an arcane word–utible–and attempt to use it weekly (daily turned out to be non-utible. Please get angry if you use words they don’t understand. Even the members of my writer’s group pushed back on me). I love finding new words that say exactly what I mean. How about abecederian. Make a guess at what that means and you’re probably right. It rolls off your tongue like it’s meant to be.
I have a pretty good vocabulary. A first-grade student uses roughly 1,000 words. A college grad uses maybe 5,000-7,000 of the 50-70,000 in the dictionary. I’m at the upper end of the ‘college grad’ category not in my spoken language nor my written, but in my knowledge. I have a list of about five hundred fun words–those multi-syllable ones that so perfectly fit a situation, but who would ever come up with them.
I love finding authors who aren’t afraid to use those rarely-used words in their writing. Elizabeth George is one. Another is Ted Bell, creator of Lord Alexander Hawke and his merry escapades. I’m reading his latest novel, Warlord and to my joy, ran across one of my favorite words–demesne, as in personal domain and pronounced ‘demain‘. When I discovered this word several years ago, I attempted to use it in my conversation (something I always do to get comfortable with new discoveries). I’d walk into my backyard with my husband and tell him I was surveying our demesne. He didn’t know this word, so I spelled it and it became our joke to pronounce it phonetically–demesne (speaking the silent ‘s’).
What fun when I found this very word, used in context, in Ted Bell’s book Warlord, written as though it was just another word. But then, that’s Bell. If you haven’t read him, do it. He’s a wonderfully accomplished action-thriller writer not afraid to challenge his readers with interesting words.
For other posts on words, check these out: