Word Nerd-And Proud Of It

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Inkspots
Tags: , , , , ,

You are such a word-nerd a coworker said to me this week. My reply?

Why, thank you!

I’ve always been fascinated by words and their meanings (a good thing for a writer to be) and really don’t mind admitting that I find the dictionary an interesting read. There, I said it.

Words have power, and each one is packed with all kinds of tools as well as weapons. Some can even be used as different parts of speech.

Like  the word rage

Valentine shook as his frame  filled with rage (noun: violent and uncontrolled anger)

Valentine raged against the hoard as they swarmed over the last divide between keep and castle. (transitive verb: violent action)

Fires, storms, and seas can also rage.

A little further digging in the Merriam-Webster dictionary reveals where we get the idea of rage:

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin rabia, from Latin rabies rage, madness, from rabere to be mad; akin to Sanskrit rabhasviolence

First Known Use: 14th century

Isn’t that cool? The idea of rage/uncontrolled action/violent action comes from the idea of madness. Someone who is out of their rational mind is someone who moves in rage.    The fourteenth century is the 1300’s and that means that the word ‘rage’ has been with us for over 700 years.  Just think about that for a moment.For seven hundred years writers, storytellers, lords, kings, villains and scribes have used that word to express themselves. When I use it,  I join a mighty chorus stretching back through time and  sound a note that has been sounded a trillion times before. I am in a company too great to number as I call on  a word to express an experience common to everyone.My fingers are tingling just thinking about it. What power!

Reading the dictionary is fun. It’s also helpful when it comes to reading other things, like poems.  Because I know that rage can be a transitive verb or a noun, I can more properly understand what Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)  means in his poem( published in 1951):

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I am a word-nerd.  A proud word nerd.I’m a better writer, and a better reader, because of it.What about you? Am I alone in my word-nerdiness?  I certainly hope not!

Encourage One Another, Scribes!

  1. Rattler says:

    I am not alone!! Words are such wonderful, amazing, powerful things. Learning them in English is just not enough. I have been called the “Walking Dictionary” by many a friend when, after being asked what a word means, I give them not only a dictionary definition, but the language of origin and root word, along with a definition of the root word. I am taking Latin right now, and my life goal is to be fluent in English, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. It’s amazing the understanding of words you gain when you study Latin. It’s thrilling really. And when you can use them, and make connections between them, it’s the most delightful feeling! So glad to read that I am not alone in my love affair of words 😀

    • Oh, I love Greek and Hebrew! Aramaic too! Such rich, rich languages. When I say love, I mean I philia them. 😉 There is a thirst-slaking depth to them that English doesn’t have. Now, I love English too. It’s the young, over-confident hooligan of languages that derives its strengths from the energy of words lifted heart and soul from other tongues. It was, last time I checked, the most descriptive of all the languages. But you’d expect that from the one LIFTING words from all the others. We have words like plaza, and pajama, and orange that do not belong to English at all.

      Our word-thief is probably the most used (sailors and pilots all over the world have to know it) language because there isn’t a tribe or nation that can’t find familiar words in it.

      All hail word nerds! Long may we roam 😀

      • Rattler says:

        Haha Long live the Word Nerds! But that’s so true. I love being able to feel English words more deeply by understanding the depth behind their roots. And English, especially American English, is certainly the greatest word-thief I know! I really should try his technique 😉
        I have to say, probably my favorite Greek word (out of my excruciatingly small vocabulary thus far) is agape. Such a beautiful word for something as pure and amazing as God’s love for His children!

  2. H. A. Titus says:

    Word Nerd became one of my nicknames in high school when I was playing a game with friends that required me to spell the word “luscious” backwards in under 15 seconds. I did it in 7. 🙂

  3. Galadriel says:

    I think it was for Lit Studies we had to look up words online in the Oxford English Dictionary. (btw, it has TARDIS, Dalek , and hobbit in it)

  4. Megan-Marie says:

    It has taken me literally *this**long* to find the reply I wanted! Ahem:

    “Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?”

    “So easy that, to tell you the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober.”

    Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers ^_^

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