Sunday, June 10, 2007


I've been thinking about a few things to post lately, and I hope to get around to those soon. But this I just couldn't pass up:

The American Heritage Dictionary has produced a list of 100 words that they say every high school graduate should know. The list is kind of preposterous, but that's not why I wanted to say something about this one.

My mother was probably the most well-read person I have ever met. She spent a good amount of time as an English major in college. Apparently, back then the NY Board of Regents published a list of 700 books a truly educated person should read. My mother had read all 700, and was the only person anyone who I've met had ever heard of doing so.

My mother and I didn't fight all that often, but oddly enough, when we did so at some point one of us would end up pulling out the large unabridged dictionary and disputing a word the other used. The best-remembered one was a 45 minute argument about a word (which, even then, I knew wasn't really about the word, but was actually about her feeling insecure not having my Dad in the house anymore). I was coming back inside from measuring the water and electricity meters, and she was trying to shut the door as I was stepping into the door frame, so I pushed back against it to keep from being hit and ended up overpowering her and scaring her. She asked what I had been doing, and told me I was using a word incorrectly--that I meant another word, as what I was using wasn't a word.

That word that I (correctly) used is number 43 on the list. Interpolate. :)

The only other word from this list I have anywhere near as good of a story about is one that was the deciding word in a game of ghost played at a friend's birthday party in high school. His high school friends were treating my best friend and me as idiots because we attended a public school and they were private school kids. My friend whose party it was wasn't a snob, but a number of his high school friends were. One of the few who wasn't had previously met me, and suggested we all play a word game (as he later told me, because he wanted to put them all in their places). The game came down to just two of us--me, and one of the sisters of the birthday boy. I won when I challenged her to come up with a word that started with the string of characters we had going. While she was searching for one, the rest of the group got out a dictionary and found only one word that fit.

That word is also on the list. Number 27: feckless.

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