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Very Wordy

February 6, 2024

I’m nothing if not randomly ambitious-- my goals are all over the place. While I am consistent in my sports aspirations (zero), I vacillate among these: seeing Thailand (where Rose lived for a year in her teens), baking a perfect croissant (Rose, who has done so, also my inspiration here), backing up my computer files more often, blowing up a balloon (don’t ask), singing again (my once-decent singing voice deserted me long ago), and keeping a houseplant alive for more than a week. See? Pretty scattershot.

Latest ambition? Increasing my Word Power, because, according to Reader’s Digest, It Pays to Do So! To that noble end, I subscribe to several daily emails that each feature a vocab Word o’ the Day. I never know what verbiage will be offered up for my elucidation. Oftentimes, the word is one I either a) already use all the time b) sometimes use or c) at least know how to spell. Those are the times I congratulate me, for utilizing such jewels as malapropism(using the wrong word, i.e. monotonous instead of monogamous), dilatory (slow, delayed) and sibilate (hissing sound). Fun fact: in childhood, I was in speech therapy for a “sibilate s” –otherwise known as a lisp. Fun FACT, mind you—mine was not a fun CHILDHOOD.

But there are some doozies, and I’m challenged to casually toss them into my everyday speech. How does one work mickle (a large amount) and sensu lato (in the broad sense) into your average sentence without coming across as an insufferable snob? “Frankly, sensu lato, I have written mickle since my retirement.” Would you opt to continue a convo with this person? I think not! Therefore, I tend to use the more out-there words sparingly. My buddy Aiden, who enjoys finding out the Daily Word at breakfast every morning, is a big fan of the adjective anfractious (meandering, circuitous), but I think he loves it because it sounds just a teensy bit like a curse word, to a fourth grader “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re just a big anfractious!”

I am especially tickled when I finally learn the name of something I was actively wondering about. Who among us hasn’t looked up at the sky on a cloudy day and seen cumulus or nimbus clouds with shapes that reminded them of something or someone? Well, the word for that phenomenon is, according to Merriam-Webster, pareidolia (the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. The scientific explanation for some people is pareidolia, or the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness. Think of the Rorschach inkblot test.)

"Pareidolia" also applies to that slice of toast said to resemble the Virgin Mary (Hail Marmalade!) and that tree stump in the woods, featuring the grumpy puss of Uncle Joe. Pareidolia, friends. IYKYK.

Today’s word? Bokeh (referring to the out-of-focus parts of a photo image.) EVERY ONE of my blurry photos? Bokeh-full! Not my incompetent camera work, nope! Artistic choice!

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    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: www.eliseseyfried.com or email me at eliseseyf@gmail.com.

     

     

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