Define connotations

What is connotation?  Everyone probably has a pretty good working understanding, but let’s look a little bit deeper, just for fun.

The New Oxford American Dictionary (“NOAD”) defines “connotation” as a noun, meaning “an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal meaning.” Continue reading

Nauseous, Nauseated, Nauseating

It’s that time of year again.  No fun!  But let’s make it fun with a quick and useful grammar/vocabulary lesson.

What is “nausea”?  The root “nausea” is a noun, meaning:

  1. A feeling of physical unwellness, usually with the desire to vomit.
  2. Strong dislike or disgust.
  3. Sea-sickness. Continue reading

Another word for famous

In 1968, Andy Warhol said “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”  Is the future now?  Do you think that’s true?  What do you think he was talking about?

We have YouTube, “reality” TV, Facebook, anyone (obviously) can start their own blog or website.  And if you live in a trailer park in the deep South and a tornado blows through, they will put you on prime-time television, no matter how backwards or illiterate you are.  If you are inarticulate enough, they may even give you your own syndicated show (see “Swamp People”).  Is that fame?  How would you define fame?  Maybe we need another word for “famous.” Continue reading

Define “curious”

For some reason, my alarm clock is set to this religious station.  Every morning I am awakened by a booming, enthusiastic sermon about one topic or another.  Despite the subject matter, I always find the voice comforting.  But this morning was a doozy.

The preacher/pastor/rabbi whatever he is was talking about infidelity, and he walked through an interesting progression.  He started out by saying that many people have beautiful bodies, different shapes, different curves, different attributes, and that finding these attributes attractive is not a sin.  Appreciating them is not a sin.  Offering an awed, almost involuntary compliment in manifestation of this appreciation is not a sin.  Thinking about these attributes is not a sin.  Even dreaming about these attributes is not a sin.  But it is close.  Continue reading

Past tense of “sneak”

What is the past tense of “sneak”?  If you’re like me, your initial reaction is “snuck,” right?  But I make a lot of these decisions quickly, and based on my inner ear.  What sounds right?  What sounds familiar?  I grew up mostly in America, mostly among native English speakers, and mostly among American English speakers.  History was not my best subject, but I know we didn’t invent the language.  It’s not called “American,” after all (though I know some that would probably argue for a change there). Continue reading

Another word for “associated”

I am trying to come up with a casual way to use the word “associated” in a sentence.  So far, no luck.  Everything I try ends up coming out stuffy.

But word associations are fun to poke away at, so I’ll keep going.

It reminds me of the word “alliteration.”  When I was an English major, this term (alliteration- the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words) seemed to come up pretty regularly.  And it is a nice sounding word, and it has relevance in the very specific context of writing, particularly poetry, but there is simply no way to use it casually in a sentence (though I have seen several English majors try): “Hey man, could you slide me some salt.  Yo, check out that super smooth use of alliteration there: slide some salt.  Awesome!”  Yeah, it doesn’t work. Continue reading