Editing for Grammarphobes: Vocabulary Building


I am a word nerd. In high school, I would memorize the vocabulary lists, making sure to incorporate at least one of those words in my writing each week. This is how insipid, plethora and a myriad of other words entered by vocabulary, including myriad itself.

Have you ever read a dictionary? Whenever I edit, I often end up reading a few pages before or after my initial inquiry. It is fascinating.

For instance, do you know what the following five words mean?


Alacrity means "promptness in response, a cheerful readiness."


Didactic is an adjective used to describe something that is "designed or intended to teach, or the intended to convey instruction and information, as well as pleasure and entertainment." It also can mean making moral observations.


A haboob is a "massive dust storm," such as the ones that recently rolled through Phoenix, Arizona. The word comes from the Arabic, habub, which means "violent storm."


This word means "frugal to the point of stinginess." Merriam-Webster.com gives the example of a parsimonious woman who insists that charity begins and ends at home.


Schadenfreude is "enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others." It comes from the German words for "damage" and "joy."

All definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster.com.


Kelly Hashway said…
Wow, we would've been good friends in high school. I did the same thing!
R. Doug Wicker said…
Well, that was certainly a very didactic post.

Sorry. Couldn't resist.
Beverly Diehl said…
Love words. Though I am trying to make some use of Urban Dictionary now, for blogging and contemporary characters. I am SO dated by vocabulary. lol @Doug
Kelly: I'm sure we would have.

R. Doug: LOL

Beverly: That's a good idea. We all grow up with certain phraseology. I bet many YA writers do the same thing.

Thanks for commenting.
Carol said…
Yes, I did read the dictionary from time to time but I don't think I was quite as systematic about learning new words as you were. Still, I do love words. I will proceed with alacrity to use at least one of the words on your list in conversation each day this week.
You are the best, Carol. I hope you have fun. Thanks so much for readiing.
Jennifer O. said…
I was a total vocab nerd. Btw, my daughters have now decided it is in my best interest (and theirs) for me NOT to use the word "totally" in any shape or form, including the root word. I may as well say "rad," they say. When the hell did this happen?

Anyhow, great post. I didn't know the def of haboob. Funny sounding word, that one. :)
It is nice to see so many kindred spirits here. Thanks for reading, Jennifer O.

I guess I will remove "totally" from my vocabulary as well, as I fear it might prematurely age me.

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