Savoring Speech

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Today’s Merriam-Webster Word Of The Day is “knackered”, which means tired or exhausted.  I actually have used this word in an essay lately. It is a descriptive, fun word that is not used much, at least on this side of the Atlantic.

There are words I have written in my journal that I would like to use or use more of in my writing. Here are some I have used: inkhorn, assiduous, savor, sedulous, and sui generis. And there are many I have not yet used, like winsome, skedaddle, gumption, mollycoddle, caterwaul, and balderdash.

There are other words I have recently discovered by reading outside my normal habits. Haiku is something new I have found, for example. Reading Bashō’s classic book of haiku, The Narrow Road To The Interior, for example, I was struck by how descriptively he used words to paint his pictures. Some phrases and words I picked out were:




Cracked by cold

Sun dancing

Hidden in clouds of memory



Endlessly scattered


These were used not only in his short poems, but also as he described his journeys. I wanted to be there traveling with him as he surveyed towering mountains or crossed roaring rivers or bowed at sacred sites.

I have also recently discovered words from other languages which define topics I’m interested in learning more about.  For example, I want to learn more about generosity, kindness, gratitude, humility, and other virtues and virtue development. Turns out, surprise, that these have been a topic of interest for centuries.  Sharon Salzberg, in her book Loving-Kindness uses these terms, each of which I plan to incorporate into my writing:

Dana – the practice of generosity

Metta – lovingkindness

Karuna – compassion

Upekka – equanimity

Mudita – sympathetic joy

These are words in the Pali language, used in Buddhist writings. Aren’t they wonderful!

I have heard a complaint from people about reading pieces that require them to look up words. Me? I try to find writing that will stretch me, and looking up a word or two or three as I read is something I find stimulating.  I used to keep a vocabulary notebook for words I tracked down that I wanted to remember. That’s one way I’ve tried to build my vocabulary. These days, I still keep such a notebook but also can save delightful words electronically.

To those who aver that reading books or articles with challenging words is too hard, who look down on wording-up, I say balderdash!

And now I can mark that word off my to-be-used list.



Bashō, M. (1998). The Narrow Road To The Interior (S. Hamill, Trans.). Boulder, CO: Shambhala.

Salzberg, S. (1995). Lovingkindness: the revolutionary art of happiness (1st ed.). Boston: Shambhala.

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