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Kardamom's avatar

Have any of you had to look up any words in the dictionary recently?

Asked by Kardamom (31095points) July 30th, 2016

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s the peri-menopause kicking up a few notches. Anyway, in the last few weeks I’d say I’ve had to look up about 8 different words. Only one of them was something written/mentioned on Fluther. I won’t say what word it was so as not to give the writer a false or haughty sense of their own superior intelligence, hee hee.

The other words were from one particular friend on Facebook (who is known for being above average in intelligence and a very good wordsmith) the news, a radio commentator, and some from current books I’ve been reading.

All of the words are fairly common, except for one that I had never heard in my life. It was the word palissy. With the others, I’ve heard them all many times before, but I realized just in these last few weeks, when I read or heard these particular words, that I never did actually know what they meant, although the sentences as whole units made sense.

I’m college educated and reasonably intelligent, at least I like to think that I am, but in these last few weeks, I’ve sort of begun to question my intelligence regarding this situation. I’m a lover of words, and can be quite verbose, as some of you know. And don’t worry, it’s not like I knew the definitions of these words before and have somehow lost that knowledge, I have just been having realizations that I had never known the definitions before. I guess I never really thought about it before because I understood the sentences as a whole units. It’s just that lately, some of these words seem to be painted in bright purple and stand out to me.

Have any of you had to look up any words lately? If so, does it seem like more than the usual number, or is it about the same?

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24 Answers

imrainmaker's avatar

Don’t beat yourself up too much on this..no matter how intelligent / clever you’re there always be some words which you haven’t heard / used in your life. That doesn’t make someone any lesser than those who might be knowing them. If I hear / read any such word then I try to infer it’s meaning from the context and check it online ( pretty easy nowadays..) later to confirm rather than looking up immediately. That gives my brai some guesswork practice..)

stanleybmanly's avatar

Don’t fault yourself for having the good sense to keep a dictionary handy, nor should there be twinges of inadequacy at opening it. It’s like apologizing for brushing your teeth. I live with my dictionaries and when away from them, work google to exhaustion.

ucme's avatar

Some members need to look up the following…humourironyself deprecate

stanleybmanly's avatar

I don’t believe that’s true for the overwhelming majority here. And it’s absolutely false regarding the regulars. America would be unrecognizable if the population could wield words to the standards maintained here.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Ok. I get it now.

JLeslie's avatar

Sure. Is it abnormal to look up words?

msh's avatar

Let’s see. A good vocabulary and sucky at math, or visa a versa? Why alter and belittle as is being done here? To each their own. Or is that reserved? Hhhmmm????

Stinley's avatar

I was looking for the word for toilet humour recently. I look words up a lot especially when I am talking to my children as I’d like them to think dictionary usage is normal.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

I do that daily.

kritiper's avatar

About 2 years ago I received a new Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th. ed. to use with my old “The New Century Dictionary,” 1944 ed., and my dad’s old Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 1960 ed.
I use these things ALL the time! Almost daily!

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m constantly encountering new words and looking them up all the time (even tho every single standardized test taken during my school years had me consistently at 99th percentile in vocabulary and most categories of English usage).

I hope I never get too old to learn something new. Don’t sweat it. There are plenty of people who don’t bother looking up new words at all.

You’ve just hit a (brief) period of time when you’ve encountered a few more than you typically do.

The ONLY conclusion you can draw from this is that the law of averages is still alive and well.

This balances out all the non memorable times where you didn’t encounter any new words. Of course these times are forgotten since there’s nothing memorable about them to stick out in your mind.

Start worrying about your intelligence (or the lack of it) If finding this many new words (in as short a time period) becomes a standard occurrence for a few years or more :)

zenvelo's avatar

I check the dictionary quite a bit, to make sure I am using a word in its proper sense, or to figure out what is really being said when I don’t quite get the nuance.

It is one of the things I enjoy about fluther, that I am kept on my vocabulary toes.

syz's avatar

You use an actual dictionary?

jca's avatar

Sometimes I’ll look up a Spanish word in an online “Spanish to English” dictionary.

zenvelo's avatar

@syz Yes, I do sometimes. I have a Webster’s Collegiate, I also have the Compact Oxford.

Seek's avatar

I look up words often.

Throughout much of my life I’ve learned the meaning of words through usage, but never bothered to look them up. So when I use the words with my son (I speak to him like I speak to anyone, not “at his level”) and he asks what I mean, sometimes I get hung up trying to explain it, and have to resort to the dictionary definition.

And that ok. We both learn from the experience.

SmartAZ's avatar

I might look up that many words in a single day, just to be sure I know what I am saying. Did you know that “fix” has FIFTY meanings? Very few people actually know what “comprise” means. You hear “fascist” a lot and NOBODY knows what it means. Mussolini invented the word, but very few people think his definition is good enough.

DominicY's avatar

Yes, I’ve been reading Fowles. Even an intelligent person will have to look up a lot. Recent words I looked up from the novel of his I’ve been reading:

stertorous
spinney
hoick
carambole

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh yes! At least twice a week. You aren’t dumb. You would only be dumb if you went about pretending you know that word, and worst, using it, when you have no idea what it means!

johnpowell's avatar

I do so much I keep the Dictionary app in my Dock for easy access.

And if I am reading a paper book I carry a paper dictionary with me.

I usually find myself needing to look up something a few times a day. When I was young I would just gloss over words I didn’t know and try to infer their meaning. Now I am old and like to be sure.

Jeruba's avatar

I look up words all the time. Lookups frequently take me two trips to the dictionary. First I get sidetracked and start browsing. Then I have to go back and recall what I was looking up.

That only happens with real dictionaries, of course, not online ones, which are almost impossible to browse. I use the online ones for quick checks when speed counts, but if I want to know a word, give me several traditional hardbound ones, the bigger the better. There are perhaps two dozen dictionaries in the house, five of them within 15 feet of me (including two OEDs). The last check involved verifying that “wrought” is the past participle of “wreak” and finding out whether it’s related to “wright.”

My collection includes foreign-language dictionaries as well as English. There are also two children’s dictionaries, which are especially interesting for capturing the essence of a word. Simple words can be the hardest to define.

Sometimes, especially when my son or husband and I differ, I have to consult more than one until I find the one that agrees with me. Also I will annotate dictionaries, but only when absolutely necessary.

flutherother's avatar

I look up words most days even when I sometimes think I know the meaning. I use online dictionaries and I have a printed dictionary.

“It is dangerous to leave written that which is badly written. A chance word, upon paper, may destroy the world.“

William Carlos Williams.

OpryLeigh's avatar

On Thursday I had an English exam and I had to use the dictionary about three times! That’s the first time I have used one in about 15 years.

FreedomThkr's avatar

There is a lot of data flow in our lives now-a-days, so I don’t think it is a biggie. I look up words every day via the internet (or “The Oracle” as I refer to it.) It’s easy and it allows my brain to concentrate on other things like creative writing, etc. I too am guilty of thinking I “understood” the gist of a sentence even though I didn’t understand a word or two in it. LoL If it is important enough to me, I now make an effort to make sure I know the meaning of each word so there is no misunderstanding, on my part, of what the author was trying to convey.

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