|magnetic poetry photo by Natalie Roberts|
The best writers are always learning – whether from life experiences (their own or others’) or from books or teachers. Games can be instructive also, whether they be games like Trivial Pursuit and Jeopardy or Scrabble and crossword puzzles.
When I was in junior high, I had a dusty humourless history teacher who spent time reading his dictionary every day. Once I had the opportunity to play Scrabble with him and he was an impossible opponent. Every time I challenged him on a word, he could prove its authenticity. It quickly became apparent that there was no point in dispute.
You’d think I’d have learned from this to spend time in my own dictionary, but it was an activity I viewed as a boring chore. Instead, my own vocabulary has been built over time through the more enjoyable act of reading. I may not always be able to give you a dictionary definition, but I can usually offer a word's gist.
This brings me to this month’s blog challenge: to find three words I don’t know the meaning of, look them up, and use them in a piece of writing. I’ll give you the piece of writing first. See if you can figure out which words I’ve chosen:
The accused squirmed in his seat to the left of the judge, whose gaze he felt most keenly. Under the fierce scrutiny of the prosecutor, he couldn’t keep his hands from trembling, though he tried to hide them from view.
“Come, Mr. Jones,” the prosecutor thundered. “It’s a simple question: answer it. Why did you decide to replace the victim’s 1928 Ford Roadster with something more neoteric?”
Mr. Jones’ insides quivered. He hadn’t, but should have, foreseen months ago that he’d be defending himself in a court of law. Was there a way of eliding the direct question while answering honestly? He was under oath, after all, and didn’t want to add perjury to his charges.
“Please answer the question, Mr. Jones,” the judge prompted, not unkindly. “It’s germane to the case.”
Blast and bother! Mr. Jones thought. It had all begun as what he thought of as an act of munificence. Apparently his intentions didn’t matter.
He took a deep breath and exhaled it loudly. “Well,” he began, “The Roadster had a lot of problems, and I thought it was throwing good money after bad to continue getting it repaired.”
“Was that your decision to make? The car wasn’t in your name, was it?”
“No, but my wife and I had made similar decisions on one another’s behalf in the past. I wanted to surprise her.”
The prosecutor looked from Jones to the judge with a laugh. “Well, you certainly did that.” He turned his back before rounding on Jones again with a scowl. “I suggest that it wasn’t just the cost of the car repairs that motivated you. In fact, weren't you jealous of your wife’s attention to the car? Hadn’t you been trying to ablactate her from it for some time?”
Jones sputtered and his face turned red. He hadn’t expected this line of questioning. His wife’s fixation on the car had certainly felt like negligence of him, but he didn’t realize his feelings had been so evident. His next answer would have to be carefully considered. He would not be emasculated in front of his peers.Once I got started on the piece, it was hard to stop. But see if you guessed my 'mystery words' correctly. They were:
ablicate, meaning 'to wean'
eliding, meaning 'suppressing, omitting, ignoring, passing over'
neoteric, meaning 'modern, new, recent'Were any other words new to you? Is the dictionary a useful writers' tool?
For more of my writing, please visit www.susan-barclay.ca and
First photo credit
Second photo credit