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Passions in Poetry

Worlds of Words

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Nimrod the Hunter
since 06-10-99
Posts 63

0 posted 06-17-99 10:59 PM       View Profile for Nimrod the Hunter   Email Nimrod the Hunter   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Nimrod the Hunter

This is interesting but I noticed that several poets on this site have unique ways with words... i.e. the different words they like to use. And some of them might be advanced words, which leads me to believe you had some way of learning it without forgetting it. High vocabulary, perhaps? Did you learn these words through school, or was there another method of learning words? I do not know if reading an entire dictionary would be the best way to go.

The most successful poets out there generally have very intricate vocabularies.

My question simply put: how do you build your own vocabulary?
New Member
since 06-16-99
Posts 7
Yucaipa, California, USA

1 posted 06-18-99 02:19 PM       View Profile for Sage   Email Sage   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Sage

Well... I'm just going to be blunt

I hear someone else use a word I'm not familiar with, I look it up and use it in a similar context until I become comfortable with the word. Sometimes I'll just run through the dictionary looking for words I'm not familiar with, become familiar with them, and then become comfortable with them. For me, it's that simple (However... It does present problems... As I sometimes get the pronounciation wrong, or use the words out of context... Just an educated trial and error for me )

-Love is a dangerous emotion,
You can brighten the lives of others immensly with it,
Or You can destroy a person in a way that is unparalleled.

Member Elite
since 06-16-99
Posts 3968
In the space between moments

2 posted 06-18-99 02:59 PM       View Profile for Alwye   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alwye

I have several ways of finding new words. First, I read quite a bit and when I find a word that I do not recognize, but it catches my eye (the way its spelled, how it is pronounced, the context in which it is used, etc.) I look it up and find out what it is. If I like it, then I become more familliar with it and then use it when I can. I also find new words through some of my friends who have quite extensive vocabularies. I become curious about the words they use and find out more about them and use them if I like them. And that is generally how I learn new words.

*Krista Knutson*
Dusk Treader
Senior Member
since 06-18-99
Posts 1231
St. Paul, MN

3 posted 06-19-99 01:16 AM       View Profile for Dusk Treader   Email Dusk Treader   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Dusk Treader

Ahh... my vocabulary. My friends are quite impressed with it, but it does not like to show though in my poetry. I've been in the "high potential" group ever since first grade, thus my teachers exposed me to challenging words for spelling tests, I learned the words, their spellings and their meanings and I have kept them ever since. I also browse the dictionary. I also read a plethora of books, sometimes 3 to 4 a month.

*Dusk Treader* pacing the path between dark and light.

Senior Member
since 06-15-99
Posts 595
Oklahoma City, OK, USA

4 posted 06-19-99 09:29 PM       View Profile for sea_of_okc   Email sea_of_okc   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for sea_of_okc

For me it is simply that I have been a voracious reader since I was young. Like dusk treader I was also in the advanced reading and math since elementary. Going to Catholic school for a number of years also helped as there English and Lit is taken far more seriously than in the public education system. I sometimes also employ a thesauras (sp?) and rhyming dictionary.
Poet deVine
Member Empyrean
since 05-26-99
Posts 25869
Hurricane Alley

5 posted 06-19-99 11:21 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

Reading..definitely reading helps build a vocabulary. I also sometimes use a thesaurus and/or rhyming dictionary. I love words! Can't get enough of them, that's why I collect dictionaries. The oldest one I have was published in 1813! I find it fascinating the way words evolve into different meanings.. take the word gay... and new words that are added as slang then are accepted like geek...I was in a meeting a few months ago, speaking to my department and later one of my coworkers said I used 3 words that she was sure no one in the room new the meaning of...I don't remember what I said so I guess those words were added to my vocabulary. If you want to build your vocabulary, read, listen, the dictionary game. I give you the definition of a word and you give me the word. I played it with my kids when they were young, and they love to read and have extensive vocabularies. This was a great question by the way!
Moon Dust
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Member Elite
since 06-11-99
Posts 2250
Skelmersdale, UK

6 posted 06-23-99 05:46 PM       View Profile for Moon Dust   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moon Dust

Well I pick up words from other poems. If i like they sound of them I'll find out what they mean.

The day is at it's end, but for you it's only just begining.
Nimrod the Hunter
since 06-10-99
Posts 63

7 posted 06-24-99 11:44 PM       View Profile for Nimrod the Hunter   Email Nimrod the Hunter   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Nimrod the Hunter

Hey y'all.... I experienced some problems after removing a platform called Linux from my computer. My apologizes my responses came a bit late... anyway shall we continue?

The idea of reading with a small dictionary besides me sounds like a great idea, except I had the foggiest idea that so many people used dictionaries as they are reading books... maybe I don't pay close attention to the words when I read, that could be a problem for me. I have been struggling to learn more words and now I can see that it could be because I am not looking in the dictionary at all. That was dumb of me, not looking, and I am glad you brought it up, so I will be sure to keep a dictionary handy in the near future.

Sage, if you look up words in a dictionary, are there ever times when you do not understand the meaning the dictionary has to offer? Or you can't tell how to put it in a sentence?

Alwye, you have a point there in trying to use the words that you learn. If words aren't observed often, they are soon forgotten. I should work on my curiosity of words some more! Thank you for the excellent suggestion.

Dusk, like you I was taking some advanced courses, and as I learned words in class, instead of learning I memorized. The hard words simply dissolved from memory overtime from the lack of use. I was also thinking that since I have good grammar and spelling skills, there must be a reason why my vocabulary fails me. From now on I'm going to hide a dictionary in my pockets everywhere.

Sea_of_okc, you aren't the only one that has attended a Catholic school before. I have, also, although I am not Catholic, and I liked their way of teaching in the English subject. I shall miss my teachers! I was fortunate to do so well in English grammar, making 100s on most tests and ending up with a 99% avg. in class, but vocabulary has been a constant struggle.

Poet deVine, rhyming dictionary and thesaurus? That's another brilliant suggestion that I should uptake. Sometimes I have a thesaurus with me when I write my poems, but it isn't often. So far, everybody's said something about using dictionaries or other resources as you are reading. The dictionary game is something I'm vaguely familar with. Only I did it on myself as I was preparing for a test in class, and eventually the memory of the words eroded. Applying might help.. I am welcome to any suggestions you have. And thanks for the honest compliment!

Maria, I shall do that too as well. It's becoming clear to me that I must look words up in the future. My problem might lie in that I am reading and puzzling out words from the sentences, but not bothering to look them up. There's the obvious solution. And knowing that is how several of you learned your words.

Nimrod the Hunter
since 06-26-99
Posts 86
Dallas, TX

8 posted 06-26-99 09:18 PM       View Profile for Haskins   Email Haskins   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Haskins's Home Page   View IP for Haskins

Conversation is the best place to judge the power of words. A new word can strike you immediately, resonating with its own unique qualities.

Instead of seeking out new words, I prefer to let them come to me. When they are special, I collect them like fireflies, and my writing grows brighter.
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Member Rara Avis
since 06-07-99
Posts 7296
America the beautiful

9 posted 06-26-99 09:34 PM       View Profile for Elizabeth   Email Elizabeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Elizabeth's Home Page   View IP for Elizabeth

Taking a foreign language like Latin can really build one's vocabulary! I know, I've taken three years of the subject. So many of our everyday words are derived from Latin, and also some not-so-common ones...

Here's one of my favorite vocab words-defenestrate, meaning to jump or throw out of a window...comes from the Latin word fenestra (window). I just think that's a great word, I'll have to use it in a poem sometime.
Senior Member
since 07-06-99
Posts 985

10 posted 08-16-99 02:41 AM       View Profile for elvira   Email elvira   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for elvira

[This message has been edited by elvira (edited 08-22-99).]
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

11 posted 08-16-99 02:54 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Enlarging your vocabulary is easy! Just spend 15 minutes daily reading Nan's poems...

Seriously (hey, who was kidding?), the only way to pick up new words regularly is to read, read, read! Preferably above your normal reading level, too. Okay, a dictionary at your side is good. Highly recommended. But even without it, you'll find yourself absorbing words, understanding them through their context, almost by osmosis.

And chances are you'll pick up a lot more than just an improved vocabulary!

Senior Member
since 05-25-99
Posts 1391
Loomis, CA

12 posted 08-16-99 11:07 AM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

I would only add to Ron's comment that you SHOULD keep the dictionary beside you while you read. It is way to easy to come across a word you don't really know and gloss over it in your reading - thus you loose the benefit of learning.

I read two ways, for pleasure, and for more pleasure. Usually I will make a note of the word and look it up at a more convenient time so I don't lose the flow of my reading...

When I was young, I read voraciously, when I couldn't find a novel to read I turned to the dictionary and the encyclopedia... (I have a wonderful storehouse of useless knowledge in this head - Trivial Pursuit anyone?).

Ultimately, it is reading that will help, look up the words, use the words in conversation, and for goodness sake, use the Thesaurus!

Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.

Member Seraphic
since 05-20-99
Posts 24426
Cape Cod Massachusetts USA

13 posted 08-16-99 11:45 AM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

Ron, I'll have to acquiesce to your interminably erudite soliloquy of the most predilective conduit for personal augmentation of lexical sagacity. You might even be a polyglot!!!

Let's see, now....OSMOSIS... That was spelled O-S-M-O...... !!!!

Nay, if our wits run the Wild-Goose chase, I am done:
For thou hast more of the Wild-Goose in one of thy wits,
Than I am sure I have in my whole five.
~ 1592 Wm. Shakespeare ~ Romeo & Juliet ~ ii. iv. 75

[This message has been edited by Nan (edited 08-16-99).]
since 08-04-99
Posts 407

14 posted 08-18-99 07:45 AM       View Profile for Sue   Email Sue   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Sue

Remember the old saying - "The Greeks had a word for it" something you say when you can't find a word for something you want to say? English has more words than any language on earth, and if anyone has a word for it, then we do. A large vocabulary gives us a choice, which is essential when writing poems.

As to how, I echo everyone: READ, READ, READ. I even learned a foreign language by reading books and looking up words I didn't know - it worked so well that I now have a larger vocabulary than an average native speaker.
Artur Hawkwing
since 06-30-99
Posts 443

15 posted 08-18-99 02:50 PM       View Profile for Artur Hawkwing   Email Artur Hawkwing   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Artur Hawkwing

Now, for results, and conclusive proof! I read this when it all began two months ago, and since that time, have read almost 7,000 pages (I haven't exactly finished Robert Jordan's books, been reading other things too!)... so I had this huge encyclopedia dictionary besides me when I read my book at times, and my vocabulary has grew quite considerably (I'm surprised! And I thought I had poor vocabulary...)

The more vocabulary you have, the more difficult words you will attempt to put into your writings (poetry etc.) and then you will end up looking it up in the dictionary too, as if you wanted to double-check. That is another way to learn words.

I am proud this subject ever came up. Thanks, guys! You are awesome.
Member Seraphic
since 05-20-99
Posts 24426
Cape Cod Massachusetts USA

16 posted 08-18-99 06:46 PM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

I guess that I should post a serious response to this very intricate question.
One very, very, exceptional way to increase your vocabulary is to learn as many ROOTS from Latin words as you possibly can. Include prefixes and suffixes. Knowing a hundred Latin roots will increase your vocabulary by a thousand words....Know a thousand, et voila!! (oops, that's French)...

This honestly works. By knowing these roots, you can glean the definition of a word by putting the puzzle of roots together....

I have a list somewhere - I'll see if I can come up with some........

[This message has been edited by Nan (edited 08-18-99).]
since 07-11-99
Posts 68
front royal, va. u.s.a.

17 posted 08-18-99 08:13 PM       View Profile for lenny   Email lenny   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for lenny

This is more in response to Sage's assertion above that love is dangerous and can destroy a person. Love can never destroy anything. The human heart, or base human nature, if you will--maybe, but love, never. As water cannot start a fire, neither can love destroy or cause hate.

The human heart, a complex thing
Capable of love supreme
Yet by God's dual fate
Is also capable of hate.

Love is. Man does.

humbly, parsley, rosemary and thyme
Member Seraphic
since 05-20-99
Posts 24426
Cape Cod Massachusetts USA

18 posted 08-18-99 09:02 PM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

Lenny, that's Sage's signature -
It's not really intended to be part of the discussion - You will, however, find threads where that issue is addressed.....

[This message has been edited by Nan (edited 08-18-99).]
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