Collecting words

Words are so valuable and meaningful to me that this year, I have made a practice of collecting them. I keep a list of these newly acquired words that I want to remember, and writing them down helps me store them in my memory bank. When I first made a point of listening for such words on TV and looking for them in the books and articles I read, I realized that writing down the words each week was helping me develop a useful word-collecting habit. What are some of the words I’ve collected?

Escritoire (‘es-krətwär), which Webster’s tells me is an old term for a writing table or desk, is my favorite word so far this week. I came across it in a Regency-era novel I’ve been reading, and I love both the look and sound of this word, which I’ve been letting bounce around in my mind all week.

Mondegreen is another recent favorite collected word. Webster’s says a mondegreen is “a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung.” For instance, I originally thought the late singer Prince was singing about raspberry meringue until I learned the song was actually about a raspberry beret. That’s a mondegreen. Useful word, isn’t it? (The word origin, according to Webster’s, is “from the mishearing in a Scottish ballad of ‘laid him on the green’ as ‘Lady Mondegreen.’”)

A couple of years ago, I was shocked to learn that there is a word for a simple symbol I’ve used for decades. The word is octothorpe, and you can click here to see one. (Why “octo,” you ask? Count the points in the symbol, and there you’ll have the answer.)

Have you collected any new words lately?

4 thoughts on “Collecting words

  1. How funny that the symbol I know alternately as “pound sign”, “sharp” (in music), and more recently “hashtag” in Instagram-speak, should have such a name. I didn’t know any of those words and now I do! We learn new things all the time.

  2. These are all new words to me! But, escritoire reminds me of the French verb, écrire (to write). It’s a pretty word, and makes sense that it’s a writing desk. I think learning new words is good for the brain…I hope.

    • Well, hi, Nichole! And I did not remember the French word for “write,” but yes, that does sound similar to the word for writing desk. All week long, I’ve imagined myself typing away at the computer on my escritoire … ha!

  3. So in reading the Introduction of a newish (2008) collection of poetry put out by Hub City Books in Spartanburg, South Carolina, I recently ran across two or three words that were new to me. One of these words was “preternatural.” Here’s the definition:
    beyond what is normal or natural.
    “autumn had arrived with preternatural speed”
    synonyms: extraordinary, exceptional, unusual, uncommon, singular, unprecedented, remarkable, phenomenal, abnormal, inexplicable, unaccountable

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