SOL2015 March 24 The Joy Of Collecting Words

I am unashamedly, a word collector. I listen, I acquire and I use particular words. I recall as a child frequently delving into dictionaries in search of new words. Sometimes I recall or hear a word or phrase that has fallen out of use and I attempt to revive it by sprinkling into my conversations. I find beauty in old words. Words rarely used. Words from English and other languages that ring in my ears and beg to be slotted into conversations. I recently heard the word skedaddle and felt compelled to use it. As a kid, we frequently skedaddled from the scene. Particularly when something nefarious had happened. I loved words like scallywag, and rascal and how those words were ascribed to us when we were kids.

 I had a thing about the word piffle a while back. So much so, I felt compelled to write a poem about piffle. That’s how compulsive, my word collecting has become. I love the word hullabaloo. It’s a word that makes me ponder. Just how loud is a hullabaloo? Is it louder than a commotion? It sounds louder than a kerfuffle or a ruckus, to me anyway. Then there is that wonderful word, squabble. Squabble rhymes with wobble and suggests disquiet and disruption. ‘They’re having a bit of a squabble, it seems.’

 I often wonder where such words began. For instance, the word clodhopper is used when referring to someone who is wearing unusually large shoes or boots. The word clod makes me think of clods of dirt, so I tend to think of clodhopper as having country or rural origins. Boots big enough to step over clods of dirt. I am a person who wears big clodhoppers. As a boy my father frequently reminded me –‘Watch where you put your big clodhoppers!'

I am curious about spurious. It has a sound to it that appeals. Spurious claims sounds so much better than false claims. Spurious has power.

I love the Italian word, segue. I love the sound of it, but I also love that it is spelt in such a unique way. I love the sound of French words like boulevard, au fait  and aperitif. They ‘re good to smatter into conversation.  

This morning before the school day began, I came across the word calamitous while randomly browsing through Annie Dillard’s ‘Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’  in search of some words I wish I’d written. I immediately felt the need to use it –surround it with words of my own. Recently I have been gathering words and ideas for a piece about nearby Fisherman’s Beach and so I added this sentence to my notebook entries.

‘The piercing squeals of children chasing each other spread along the beach. Armed with clumps of seaward they streak about with calamitous wailing.’

Words have an allure; a charm. They are the wonderful creation of the exquisite and seemingly infinite use of those magical twenty six letters we have at our disposal.
I’ll leave it there. You get the picture. Right now though, I have to skedaddle


  1. I love the words you wrote about today, Alan, just the way they sound in the early morning - such fun! We keep a running list of words we love in my classroom, often I find my kids just saying them out loud and giggling over them. The joy of words in action!

  2. I enjoyed reading your post! My husbands grandmother is now 90 something and I have always loved to listen to her talk in much the same way as I enjoyed your post. . .I fist learned the word scalawag from her and was hook, a saying of hers, had us 'kids' laughing hysterically in wonder of its meaning "hotter than the ol Harry"

  3. I got my love of words from my dad...who would be 100 years old this year! He was a wordsmith, although he did not use his words for writing much. Hullaballoo was a short-lived TV show, similar to American Bandstand. Along with Shindig, a similar rock and roll series, I was in love with the music and the styles along with the totally mod and fab names of the shows.

  4. I'm a word collector, too, but definitely not as in-depth as you! I love this post and the words you used today. :)

  5. Me too! I love how you embrace writing and sharing it in Slices. I am always happy to click here and read, Alan, Thanks!

  6. This was such a playful read! I loved the perfunctory use of obstude verbage, and the implicit invitation to join you in the activity. The dollops of terminology that we are unaccustomed to read, made the piece an adventure of sorts, for new found treasure. Simply marvelous!

  7. I am a word collector, too. I think I got it from my dad who used to say, usually when referring to someone cussing, "There are so many beautiful words in the English language, why would you use an ugly one?" Heck, better to use a funny one, because English has a lot of those. It is bamboozling.

  8. Word collecting, a wonderful hobby with no costs, other than a bit of time. I have to admit that slow words like meander, linger, and lallygag are some of my favorites. And when I thought of lallygag, luscious popped into mind and then lavender and cerulean. Oh, if you give a wordsmith a word....


Post a Comment

Popular With Other Visitors

The Wonder of Wordplay

Launching Your Writing Program With Bold Intent in 2018

Learning How to 'Zoom In' When Writing

Helping Student Writers Find That Vital Spark of Inspiration

The Quest For Independence Among Student Writers