Nobody says "I want to be a word nerd" when I grow up. I know I certainly didn't. But I have always been fascinated with words. In first grade I received an award for spelling every single word on every sing test correctly, all year long. Who cares if the majority of first grade spelling lists mostly include the classic CVC words such as bat, cat, pat, rat?! Even then I knew to take victories wherever I could get 'em.
My word nerdiness took a turn for the awesome when I started doing crossword puzzles during break time in between teaching classes. Initially, the crosswords were a way for me to avoid my evil boss, Ruth, who sat perched, sans shoes, in her (very squishy) rolly chair, trilling orders at all the English teachers in the room. This woman was the embodiment of harpy and I had little patience for her bitching. Besides, I had plenty of my own complaining to do. Very quickly, however, I realized how much I loved working every crossword and giving myself a big penciled star upon completion. At some point, I even started noting any unfamiliar words and saving them in a mini notepad I christened my Word Nerd book. When I couldn't finish a crossword, I'd stuff it in my purse and save it for later perusal, usually on the bus or subway. On Fridays I'd print off multiple crosswords, knowing my weekend would be full of commuting. It became an excellent source of education and entertainment -- edutainment (a portmanteau, if you didn't know).
Which brings me to now. A few months ago I told Pat of my word nerd book. Of course he took every opportunity to badger me, proclaiming me just as nerdy as himself. (This, however, would be nearly impossible, as Patrick is the ultimate NYERD.) Inside, however, I suspect he was giddy, because on Christmas Eve he presented me with three rectangular packages. BOOKS. So obvious. But I'm a book lover, so it was a natural choice. However, one book in particular has tickled my fancy a great deal -- Word Nerd - More Than 17,000 Fascinating Facts About Words by Barbara Ann Kipfer. This book is SO FUCKING AWESOME! It's like the coolest dictionary ever, arranged alphabetically and full of facts, roots, common words, weird words, outdated words -- the works. Like any good student, I've taken to reading it in order, front to back, always with highlighter in hand. Wanna read some of my favorites?
Abligurition is the damn story of my life -- squandering my money on treats and comfort food
I like to think my students find me abubble -- full of excitement and enthusiasm
You all know I love an acomous head -- a cute word for bald
Did you know both eggs and brains are capable of being addled? An addled brain is mixed up; an addled egg is rotten. Addled also refers to mental confusion, while muddled is anything confused or messy.
Good writing on a trivial subject? Adoxography it is!
I have often used the word inadvertent (made through lack of planning). I have never found occasion for advertent (giving attention; heedful).
Did you know that aficionado means amateur in Spanish? Yeah, me neither.
Try this mouthful: agathokakological. Means made of good and evil.
There is an entire branch of philosophy dedicated to the study of human ignorance called Agnoiology.
All-overish sounds like a term my kindergarteners would use to describe coloring. For adults it relays a slight feeling of indisposition.
Did you know Amazon.com was so named because the founder wanted the store's inventory to be as deep and wide as the Amazon river?
An unpronounced letter or letter combination is an aphthong.
And my favorite find of the day? Anus. It's latin for ring (because of course it is.)