Friday, 12 March 2010

I Learned ...


13. Withershins

Meaning: Going in a direction contrary to the natural one, esp. contrary to the apparent course of the sun or counterclockwise: considered as unlucky or causing disaster.

I realised (after my last post about the word 'nerd') that I am a word nerd. Today, I wanted to learn a new word and found this obscure Scottish word.

When I was about seventeen and facing a daunting English exam, I decided that I needed to learn some big, impressive sounding words. Well, books are full of big words right? That was my seventeen year old logic anyway. So, I flicked through the dictionary and wrote down lists of words and tried to memorise them all. 

After she had marked my exam, my teacher took me to one side and asked what was going on. By sprinkling my new words throughout my exam, I had ended up writing nonsense. SMy teacher had no idea what I had written and I hardly knew what the words meant anyway. I vaguely remember that the word iconoclastic featured quite heavily.

I learned then that using big words does not necessarily make your writing better but using the right word, even if is a ordinary kind of word, will. 

I still like stumbling across new words and learning what they mean. But I'm not tempted to use them in my writing just for the sake of it. So, you probably won't see me using the word 'withershins' unless I really need to.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha, remember when I used the phase 'opal iridescence' in a poem for English (2nd or 3rd year??) I had been playing that game too!