Even as a certified English teacher, I sometimes don’t use all of the words at my vast disposal. Sometimes, finding a unique, particularly expressive word helps to make a point clearer than it otherwise would have been. Sometimes, it’s important to avoid certain words that may carry a negative connotation that might offend someone, and it might be a good idea to choose a powerful word with a very positive connotation, too! And sometimes, using new words is just plain fun!
Take, for example, the word “word hoard.” This is a real word that dates back to the 1890s. I found it on a popular vocabulary website! Who knew? The meaning of the word is what you might expect: a word hoard is a person’s vocabulary (their stockpile of words).
Word hoarding makes me think of the phenomenon of hoarding – when people keep too much stuff, until it is unsafe, unhealthy, and unwise! Hoarders have become a subject of popular fascination in the last few years, often due to the shock value of people who have way too much in their homes. It’s not pretty when people can’t get rid of their possessions! However, with word hoarding, the more words you have in your word arsenal, the better!
You are bound to encounter funny stories, too, once you start paying attention to the words that people use. My wife and a friend recently went into the city to meet a popular musician and celebrity. Sitting around the dinner table talking about it, my wife’s sister described this person as “wiry”. My brother-in-law was quick to point out that, in his opinion, wiry (which means lean or thin) has a negative connotation, so it might be perceived as an insult. What made it funny was that my sister-in-law didn’t mean to imply that, so she backpedaled pretty quickly!
By the way, just in case you don’t know, a word’s connotation is it’s commonly understood, subjective cultural or emotional association. And, you guessed it! Connotations can be positive or negative!
What’s the point? Words can be fun! It’s an important fact that I think gets lost on too many students these days. The other cool thing about increasing your vocabulary is that you can often get started on your own – just look up some words in a dictionary or on a vocabulary website, read the blog of a really talented private tutor (you’re there!), and start practicing your new words on your friends and family!
Of course, I am writing this blog post on the WyzAnt private tutoring network website, so let me also take the time to promote the fact that it always helps to have an accomplished wordsmith on your side! If I’m available, I’d love to have a conversation with you, and I am joined here at WyzAnt with many excellent colleagues, as well!
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get to word hoarding!