Words Learned in Milwaukee

My husband has the opportunity of being in Milwaukee this week for some training for his work. Since I have an over-abundance of vacation days that I need to use before the end of the year, I, too, am currently in Milwaukee.

Just down the road from our hotel is a two-story Barnes and Noble book store. Since I love books as much (or more) as I do words, we headed down there to take a look.

As usual, my wanderings led me to the reference materials section. I felt compelled to check out the dictionaries that they had . . . maybe there was a new one out . . . . Aha! there WAS one that caught my attention. Actually several did. They were a series of “100 Words that a (fill in the blank) Should Know.”

The first one I browsed through was 101 words that every word lover should know. I’d like to share one of the words that I saw. (Most of them I knew. Pat myself on the back . . . .) The word was humuhumunukunukuapuaa. Yup. You read that right.

This is the name of the state fish of Hawaii. While Hawaii is a delightful place to visit (I’ll be going there in January for the third time) and has beautiful topical fish (that I love to see as I snorkel), I can’t for the life of me figure out why I as a word lover should know this word! I mean, just how many times will that come up in my normal conversation? If I used it in a conversation, my friends would think that I was mumbling a voodoo chant.

Which leads me to say this about that. I believe that as a person increases his or her vocabulary, the words should be words that ‘normal’ people would use, words that would fit naturally into a conversation — or words that people might read in newspapers or magazines. And, I don’t think this word fits into those categories. (The editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries that published this series of books evidently have a different point of view . . . .)
So, here are a couple of words that I think fit into my pre-defined categories of useful words to know.

The first is exiguous (eg-zig-yoo-uhs). Exiguous is an adjective that means scanty, meager, small, or slender. You could say that you have an exiguous income and ask your boss for a raise. Or maybe the budge for a project that you are working on is too exiguous. Personally, I would like to think that I am exiguous in stature — and not behemoth.

Are you familiar with behemoth? Behemoth (bi-hee-muhth) is a noun that means any creature or thing of monstrous size or power. I would like to be behemoth in power . . . but not particularly in size.

The last word today is embrangle (em-brang-guhl). Embrangle is a verb that means to entangle, confuse, perplex. Sometimes politicians embrangle people with all of their glib nonsense. Sometimes husbands embrangle their wives. (Sometimes????)

Well, I hope that you are not embrangled by what I have said here. I hope that you’ll find ways to appropriately use these words so that your vocabulary is behemoth and your waistline is exiguous.


Posted in New Words. Comments Off on Words Learned in Milwaukee
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