As a writer, I love words, and understandably so, as they are the material that I use to create my works of art. One of my past-times is to browse through dictionaries and discover new words or new meanings to words. Over the years, I have also become an avid collector of dictionaries, new and old, common and uncommon ones.
The thought has crossed my mind of how many words comprise the English language. The Oxford Dictionary states it well by saying, “There is no single sensible answer to this question. It’s impossible to count the number of words in a language, because it’s so hard to decide what actually counts as a word and what counts as ‘English’ words”. It goes on to suggest that, “There are, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the OED, or words not yet added to the published dictionary, of which perhaps 20 per cent are no longer in current use. If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million.”
Wow! Those are a lot of words at our disposal, and to think, we utilize only a minuscule amount of them.
To learn more words, I subscribe to Dictionary.com to get my ‘word of the day’ on my Blackberry every morning. And in case, I forgot to load my cellphone the night before, and wake up with a dead battery, I still have my trusted hard-copy, a word calendar that my kids give me as a gift every Christmas that shares a new word with me each day.
I have made it a habit to include a new word into every piece I write. By new, I mean a word that has never crossed my path before. This practice not only motivates me to find new words, but by using them, I am forced to learn their meanings. With so many words, I doubt there will ever be a paucity of new words for me to find.
My new word:
paucity [paw-si-tee] -noun
- smallness of quantity; scarcity; scantiness: a country with a paucity of resources.
- smallness or insufficiency of number; fewness.
1375-1425; late Middle English paucite < Latin paucitas fewness, derivative of paucus few; see -ity
I love discovering new words, so I was eager to hear about the Oxford Dictionaries online announcement of another batch of new words that it is adding to their dictionary. Here are a few that I thought to share with you. See if you recognize any of them: badware, breadcrumb trail, bucket list, confirmation bias, dumpee, eco-chic, lifehack, mancave, meep, roid, schmick, twittersphere, and zhooshed. Want to know their meanings, go to oxforddictionaries.com
Not only do words help us communicate in so many different ways, they stimulate the senses, awaken our emotions, and make interaction easier. For me, words are beautiful and extremely powerful, and that gives me a huge respect for them.