Words and I have a long-standing relationship. I spend an extraordinary amount of my time with words. I can’t seem to get enough of words.
I can lose myself in dictionaries and thesauruses for hours on end. I delight in discovering their rules, their uniqueness, and their amazing variety. These are just some of the words I’ve come to love.
- Made up words
One of my favorites is dinglehopper, Scuttle the seagull’s word for a fork Ariel found in the Disney movie The Little Mermaid.
Scuttle twirls his feathery crest into a wild mess with the fork and says, “See? Just a little twirl here and a yank there and voila. You’ve got an aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over.”
I’ve used dinglehopper as a conversation starter at dinner parties. I’ve even been known to slip in the phrase “aesthetically pleasing configuration of hair that humans go nuts over” upon occasion. And, voila gets frequent use.
- Vocabulary words
Dictionary.com sends a Word of the Day to my inbox every day. Krummholz was a recent word. It means a forest of stunted trees near the timberline on a mountain.
An interesting word, but I doubt its value for my daily conversation or writing. Maybe tomorrow’s word will be more useful.
- Foreign language words
Foreign language words have begun to pop into my social media feeds more and more. A little link translates. I do wonder, though, about the accuracy of translations since I ran across the Greek word meraki in a recent blog.
You’ll find no on-line dictionary definitions for meraki.
A web search did turn up an article in NPR that explains meraki is an adjective, which describes doing something with soul, creativity, or love. According to the article, it is often used to describe cooking or preparing a meal, but it can also mean arranging a room, choosing decorations, or setting an elegant table.
Meraki is not the only foreign language word that has no English equivalent. Check out the full article here: Translating the Untranslatable
There’s also an interesting variation to NPR’s definition from the comments on a different blog:
“I am Greek. Meraki is not an adj. It is a noun. Like the English word ‘gusto’ as in, ‘I eat with gusto.’ You do something with ‘meraki’. You do it with a good feeling, with a light heart and a smile. With all your heart. The best way to translate it would be to listen to the seven dwarves sing, “Whistle while you work…”
Meraki may not have an exact English translation and I may never have an opportunity to use the word in conversation or my writing, but isn’t it a great word to apply in our lives.