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What are words worth?

November 16, 2017

For a writer, words are everything: they are the medium with which a writer builds a world. According to the Tom Tom Club What are words worth? Words

Words in papers, words in books
Words on TV, words for crooks
Words of comfort, words of peace
Words to make the fighting cease
Words to tell you what to do
Words are working hard for you
Eat your words but don’t go hungry
Words have always nearly hung me

What are words worth?
What are words worth? Words

Words of nuance, words of skill
And words of romance are a thrill
Words are stupid, words are fun
Words can put you on the run

Finding and using the right word, the word that works, makes a huge difference. But developing a vocabulary of awesome words takes time.

The best way to develop your vocabulary is by reading works that challenge you — that offer words that aren’t in your every day world.

Paying attention to these words, how they are used, how they sound in a sentence, what they mean — is key to becoming a better writer.

To this end, each week I ask students to choose and define 2-5 words at the end of their weekly reading response.

I invite readers of this blog to submit below in the comments some of the more interesting, meaningful, and valuable words they’ve discovered. Please share two or three words along with their meaning and source using MLA and the following model:

Word: definition (source author and page #).

My students will collect these wonderful words and be tested on them at the final examination.

Words may range from A to Z — from anthropocene to feminism and maybe all the way to zygodactyl! Check them out — maybe while listening to this video!

17 Comments leave one →
  1. November 28, 2017 3:03 pm


  2. November 28, 2017 3:07 pm

    Nature Deficit Disorder

  3. November 28, 2017 3:14 pm

    Quandary: state of uncertainty or perplexity especially as requiring a choice between equally unfavorable options.
    Amy Tan P.422

    Helgramite: a carnivorous aquatic North American insect larva that is the young form of a dobsonfly (especially Corydalis cornutus) and is used for fish bait
    E.B. White P. 460

  4. November 28, 2017 3:15 pm

    degradation-Chemistry. the breakdown of an organic compound & thermooxidative degradation-oxidation of plastics at moderate temperatures

  5. November 28, 2017 3:31 pm


  6. November 28, 2017 3:52 pm

    what’s the definition? source– author and page number?

  7. November 28, 2017 3:52 pm

    what’s the source? page number and author?

  8. November 28, 2017 3:52 pm


  9. November 28, 2017 3:53 pm

    what’s the source– author and page#? what’s the definition?

  10. November 28, 2017 3:53 pm

    what’s the source? author/page #? what’s the definition?

  11. November 28, 2017 6:11 pm

    1. deicide;the act of killing a divine being or symbol substitute, the killer or destroyer of a god(277 Mamaday). 2. chicano;an American of Mexican ancestry; a American whose parents/grandparents came from Mexico.

  12. November 28, 2017 6:18 pm

    Verboten (Louv 28): forbidden
    Solace (Staples 396): comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness
    Lunatics (Walker 448): a mentally ill person

  13. November 28, 2017 6:31 pm

    Billowing: fill with air and swell outward. Staples (394)
    Empirical: based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experienced rather than theory or pure logic. Tan (418)
    Guise: an external form, appearance, or manner of presentation, typically concealing the true nature of something. Tan (419)
    Unconscious: not conscious. Walker (477)
    Exquisite: extremely beautiful and, typically, delicate. Walker(448)

  14. November 28, 2017 6:36 pm

    Wonderment: noun (Louv, 9)
    a state of awed admiration or respect.
    Rubbish: noun (Decker)
    waste material

  15. parisathome permalink
    November 30, 2017 2:59 pm

    World “Mary Oliver” Page 110
    (The biosphere of life that in which we live in)
    Yearning “Lost Child in the Woods” page 4
    (To have a longing miss of something or someone)

  16. November 30, 2017 6:13 pm

    Monosyllabic ( Alexie, PG 17) : using brief words to signify reluctance to engaging conversation

    Piqued (Angelou, PG 26) : feel irritated or resentful

  17. December 6, 2017 1:45 pm

    See you in class, 12/12/2017. Our home is in the line of fire. mandatory evacuation yesterday 12/05/2017. Erik and I, with our 2 dogs, are at VC fairgrounds. SHOUT OUT-the RED CROSS. I am so impressed, food, beds, showers, blankets, doctors to provide medication; if people left meds at home. free dog kennels;food walks water, safe. so many horses. I am ready to rock out the final…I am free to see beauty in tradegedy. my daughter Janelle wants us at their house in Camarillo. We want to be close to home. I am inspired by unity, and kindness. hey fyi firefighters…so many beautiful..heros. no power. see you soon. I hope all is well.

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