Back to basics

Caravan view

My grandpa, George, used to read the dictionary every day – until just a few days before he died. He said we’re never too old to learn new words, and that most of us just churn through the same old words we always have. There are tens of thousands of words in the English language, yet most of us stick to a vocabulary of around 2,000 words. So I wanted to learn some new words. Simple as that.

On my last Day 10, I decamped to my dad’s caravan in a field on the Lizard Peninsula to unplug, disconnect and work on a story I’d been thinking about for months. But first, some time with my dictionary. I opened it on a random page and scanned it until I came across a word I hadn’t seen before. (Or perhaps I might have seen it used, but never properly understood what it meant.) Here are ten new words I discovered. It was fun. I might just take a leaf from George’s book and do it every day…

  1. susurrate (vb): to make a soft rustling sound, whisper, murmur
  2. descry (vb): to discern or make out, catch sight of, discover by looking carefully
  3. pleiad (n): a brilliant or talented group, especially one with seven members (originally poets)
  4. refulgent (adj): shining, brilliant or radiant
  5. beatific (adj): displaying great happiness, calmness, a state of celestial happiness [I recognised this one but never fully understood it]
  6. cavil (vb): to raise annoying, petty objections; quibble, carp
  7. asymptote (n): mathematical term. [Dad came in with some biscuits at this point and told me this one, it’s his favourite.] Two things that approach each other but never meet, coming ever closer to infinity, but never quite getting there. Eg 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 etc – will never reach 2. [I think it’s an interesting theme for a story. Dad likened it to our continual search for Nirvana and how, with each step closer, we always want more…]
  8. fugacious (adj): passing quickly away, transitory, fleeting
  9. misology (n): hatred of reasoning or reasoned argument
  10. mantic (adj): of or relating to divination and prophecy

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