Sunday, 4 September 2011


Do you remember vocabulary books? These were slim exercise books given out at school in which we would write new words. I only recall them for a brief period of time; perhaps they were superseded by changes in curriculum and chaotic lessons. But I rather liked them, so I have decided to resurrect the idea.

Every time I discover a new word it gets recorded in my notebook. I have a guess what I think the words means and then look it up later when I get a chance. Here are a selection for your amusement!

Word: Lexical
I think: Correct terminology
Actual meaning: A dictionary term or definition
How close was I? Not bad

Word: Inchoate
I think: Incoherent
Actual meaning: Just begun, not fully formed, rudimentary
How close was I? Not even vaguely! Although I can see my thought pattern – same word family, right? (Wrong!)

Word: Coterie
I think: Group
Actual meaning: Small group with shared interests, exclusive to others
How close was I? Spot on

Word: Amanuensis
I think: Some sort of teacher
Actual meaning: Performing a function by hand, i.e. writing down the words of another. In Latin a  manual labourer / secretary
How close was I? Way out

Word: Simony
I think: Traitor or treachery
Actual meaning: Paying for a position within church, trafficking for money within spiritual things
How close was I? Close but no biscuit

I love discovering new words and am always rather thrilled when I am reading and a word leaps out that I've never seen before. I like reading around it, trying to guess, seeing if there are any clues. Sometimes these guesses can put an interesting slant on sentences, one the author had not foreseen. Hence the notebook!


Mflick1 said...

I remember those books. It was an easy grade. But my students cringe at the thought of them now... Do you think there is a word for fear or vocabulary building? or maybe just worksheets? Let me know if you come across something though!

But you did give me a good idea for a vocabulary game! Thanks

Maggie May said...

I often find new words through doing crosswords and often think that I will use those words. Then what happens? I forget them after a while.
I do love words though, much better than numbers.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Old Kitty said...

Simony!?!? Yay for simony!!

I came across a word here in blogland that I swore didn't exist but apparently it does: aggressing.

LOL! Take care

Anne Gallagher said...

I love this. I love finding new words. As a matter of fact I found a few I had forgotten I knew. Now that's fun!

Stoat - The European ermine

As in, "the vicious old stoat"

Postprandial - the period following a meal

"after my postprandial nap"

I love words.

Mama J said...

I vaguely remember being given similar books at school but I don't think they were ever put to use.

Fran said...

It's such a good idea. I would do this with my students at school if I didn't think the book would get lost, or stuck to a sandwich in their rucksack ...

Glynis said...

I remember the books, what a good idea you have.

My notepads are laid out with descriptions that I want to keep.For example beach scenes. I have a page just for trees, that is how simple-minded I am. LOL

Jayne said...

Anne - postprandial! I love it! Would preprandial be the bit before a meal, I wonder?

Anonymous said...

I had never done this before in school, but it seems like such a fun exercise!

mshatch said...

never had those books but I, too, love coming across new words - or old words, as in the case when I read Paradise Lost :)

Lindsay said...

I've been keeping such a book for years - always been a fan of sesquipedalianism - and because of it, simony was the only one in your list I wasn't familiar with.

Ed Pilolla said...

i don't like using words that the average slob wouldn't understand, but that's a personal thing. expanding vocabulary is an important thing to do and i don't do it enough, for sure. even if you don't use the new vocab terms, trolling through those books is a good thing for anyone who writes words for a living or for serious fun, for sure.
nice to meecha.

Katie Gates said...

I do remember vocabulary books, and I also remember growing my vocabulary significantly when I was in my 20s and reading a lot of relatively obtuse fiction. As for your list? I would have scored about the same as you did!

snafu said...

It is all very well but shouting Conflagration! Conflagration! will not bring the fire brigade.

Maria Zannini said...

Oh, my gosh. That brings back memories. I loved my vocabulary books.

catdownunder said...

We called them "dictionaries" and I was endlessly in trouble for wanting to use words that were "too grown up"! They were probably not really very grown up at all. As I remember it we used them in the first couple of years of school as part of writing our "diary" - a daily sentence about what we had done or were going to do. I would like to see one of mine now to see what it did contain!

Talli Roland said...

Aren't you clever? I'm nowhere near organised enough to do that, but I hear you on the thrill of discovering new words.

jabblog said...

I remember vocabulary books, too. Maybe that's why I like words - just feeling them roll off my tongue;-)
Just popped in from Karen's barbecue - so crowded over there and soooooo much food! Tizer would be nice . . .

Ella said...

Wow, fun post! I don't remember these, but would love to own one :D

Thanks for sharing~

Murr Brewster said...

This is why I still traipse through dictionaries as though they were novels. If I hadn't, I never would have discovered callipygian, and where would I be without that? Thanks for Simony. That was the only one I'd never heard of. I won't remember what it means but some day I'll tell someone I'm coming down with a touch of simony and they'll feel appropriately sympathetic, and confused.

Out on the prairie said...

A friend has a website she uses for her word of the day. There used to be a article in the paper for years I enjoyed, knowing the author as well.

jbchicoine said...

I love new words--just wish that some of the ones I wanted to use weren't so obscure! Like, PENETRALIA: /pen'i tray"lee euh/
1. the innermost parts or recesses.
2. the most private or secret things.
[1660-70; < L, n. use of neut. pl. of penetralis inner = penetr(are) to PENETRATE + -alis -AL[1]]

Just dying to use that in a novel, but it sounds so disgusting!

Shrinky said...

I was a weird kid, every night (at around age 11 to 12) I'd memorise three random words from the dictionary I kept under my bed.

I never told anyone, just did.

My favourite word of all time is one I learned back then - serendipity.

I also think it may apply to my tripping over your blog.

Dolly said...

Oh yes I remember those notebooks and loved them, as I did reading. I also loved spelling bees in school and am proud to say was always one of the last left standing at the front of the class! However I was absolutely rubbish at arithmetic and anything to do with numbers. Still am, which makes dates very hard to remember when I love history so much. Loved this post!

Jenny Beattie said...

I am a little late here but I shall say it anyway. I have a book into which I write words - both new ones and synonyms that I have looked up.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I've always loved the word "inchoate". But I always mispronounce it.