Friday, February 22, 2013

New Words

One of my critique buddies scribbled "sounds trite” on my piece. I was too embarrassed to say, “What’s trite?” I sort of understood what the word meant, but I wanted a better understanding so I wouldn’t be trite again. I got up and pulled the dictionary off the bookshelf. Okay, I didn’t. I wanted to. I like books better than the computer, but instead I opened up the laptop, searched the Internet for These are the things I love about the Internet. Information at your fingertips. I don’t utilize the Internet as much as I could for the very reason, I’d never get anything accomplished, other than stuffing my already full brain with more info. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Trite: lacking in freshness, archaic, rubbed or worn by use. Hackneyed; dull
synonym: ordinary
antonym: original

Okay, it’s worse than I thought. I don’t want to be ordinary and dull in my writing. Now I have to admit, I didn’t know the meaning of hackneyed either, which I want to pronounce: hack-an-eyed (sounds like something my mom would have said when frustrated with her sewing: "Oh hack-an-eyed!") but it’s hack-need, I know. And the meaning of hackneyed: made commonplace.

When I’m reading a page-turner book and come across a word I’m not quite sure the meaning or simply haven't heard before, I am too lazy to get the dictionary. I want to keep on reading. I say to myself, “Oh, I’ll go back and look that up later.” I also get the jest of the meaning based on the sentence. And as you’ve seen by what I did looking up trite, it leads to looking up another word. I’d spend all day with my nose in the dictionary.

That is a poor decision on my part—not looking up the meaning of words—and it’s no wonder my vocabulary stinks.

Now that I’m going to school for Web Development, I MUST know certain words. Some of these words aren’t exclusive to programming. These are words one should know anyway… like integer. Integer means whole number. Seems most folks know that, but I didn’t. I thought it was a programming term and wondered why that couldn’t just say whole number.

I’d like to excuse myself for not knowing integer because: A) I’m not good in Math, more so Algebra and beyond. [Ah, not really an excuse]; B) I only know basic Math [Well, there are whole numbers involved in basic Math, but I never knew integer.]; C) The last Math class that I had in 9th grade, I was more worried about a girl in there who frightened me. And D) That Math teacher had the personality of a soap dish [and that might be giving him a little more than he deserves]; Oh and don’t forget: E) That was all the Math requirement needed to graduate from high school. [Having no real guidance, that was it for me for Math.]

Since I’m lacking in my writing due to learning coding, maybe I’ll pick a random word from the dictionary and blog about it. Increase my vocabulary and get a little writing accomplished.

What about you? Do you look up words when you’re reading?


  1. No, I don't. I also only went as high as senior math (which is low) in high school, but dang can I read! I had to take some more math in college, but was lucky enough to get it out of the way when I was 17.

    Best of luck, Lynn!

    Kathy M.

  2. Occasionally. But most of the time I read around the word and see if I can figure it out.

    And if I'm sitting in a circle with four other women and a suggestion or word comes up and I'm clueless, I just fake it...and hope I don't get caught.

  3. I am a word girl not a number mama. Give me letters and I can unscramble a word in no time. Give me numbers and I go limp.

  4. I usually don't look up a word while I'm reading books, but I always do when I'm writing. I use, too, but mostly for synonyms. And sometimes I forget all those little grammar rules.Have you heard of Grammar Girl? I love it!
    And one of these days, I'm going to buy a couple of her books. The titles are really long, so I'll skip that! LOL. But I WILL say, one of them has a 5-Star rating on Amazon, with 105 Reviews!

  5. Lynn, I use a lot...and I really use the pronouncing part...I need to hear words said for me sometimes.
    That is one nice feature of Kindle can put your finger over the word and it will look it up for you right then as you read. I love that!!!

  6. When reading, I skim over an unknown word and judge its meaning from the context.

    When writing, I tend to Google the word with "definition" right after it, and save the time of going to

  7. Before my ereader--Nook--I rarely looked up a word while reading. Now it is so easy that I do it more often, particularly when an author uses the word frequently. Discovered recently that I wasn't even close to correct on the definition of a word that I thought that I "knew."

    Thanks for the ref to; this post reminded me to put it in my toolbar.

  8. I don't think it's too worrisome. When we're preoccupied with something else, we often slip into the safe zone (which might make our work a little dull.)

    Occasionally, I look words up if the meaning is still unclear from context. Hmm, to be truthful, I'm surprised I don't have to look up more words, what with not being a native English speaker ;)
    However, it's also on account of what you yourself mentioned. I'd be with my nose in the dictionary all day long.

  9. I forgot to say--when I'm writing, it's so easy on my PC (NOT a Mac) to click onto the dictionary or the thesaurus. Those PCs are a sheer pleasure to use...;)

  10. Lynn...
    I love this post. I consider myself a word girl (like Linda), but there are tons of words for which I don't know the meaning. Yes, I do look up a word. First, I'll try to figure it out just in the way it's used (the words/sentences around the word in question), but if not, I will stop reading to look it up. Old habits (from grade school) die hard, I guess. I do it with newspapers, magazines, books, blogs...
    I had to take College Algebra when I was getting my associates degree, and it took me two attempts - UGH! Once I decided on Writing as my major I was very happy to find out I was DONE with math. But I digress, back to words. I love learning the meaning of "big" words, but when I write, I stick to well known, simpler language.

  11. Wish I could say I look words up, but most of the time I don't. I assume meaning based on context. Occasionally a word will really stick with me, and then I do look it up. For a while I put a new word on a 3x5 card daily and did my best to use the word, but that didn't last long. I ended up with a card file full of words I couldn't remember when I needed them!

  12. I keep paper in my book when I read and scribble notes all over it - not just vocabulary I don't know, but good quotes, ideas, etc. It's a sickness. And whoever said your word was trite must be a soap dish (love that, btw)! <:-}


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