Wednesday, June 23, 2010

WNW: Words HS Grads Should Know: #1-10

Several years ago on the LDStorymakers e-mail list, we had a weekly vocabulary word challenge. It consisted of words that aren't necessarily used all the time, but that we should know. The idea was to challenge those on the list to use the week's word somewhere in their writing and then report back.

It was great fun, if short-lived. Not everyone got involved, but I personally got a huge kick out of later seeing a good ten of challenge words show up in Tristi Pinkston's Season of Sacrifice, knowing exactly when she'd penned those scenes and why she'd picked those words.

This was while I wrote Spires of Stone and why you'll find in it quash, auspicious, and a few other challenge words that I've forgotten.

Here's the Word Nerd Wednesday version.

Back in 2007, Houghton Mifflin put out a list of 100 words they thought every high school graduate should know.

I thought it would be fun to look at those words here . . . and maybe challenge my readers to use one of them sometime in conversation or in their writing over the next week. Or not. Or do. Whichever. I'll probably post the other 90 words piecemeal on other WNWs.

For me, some words on the list make perfect sense; they're basic cultural literacy. Others? Hmm, not so much. Some are too obscure (why should a HS grad need to know "plasma" over, oh, several hundred other words?), while others are ridiculously obvious.

Below are the first 10 on the alphabetical list.
Can you use them all properly in a sentence?

ABJURE
The first of many rather negative words on the list.

ABROGATE
Another.

ABSTEMIOUS
Sheesh. This one makes me want chocolate. I will NOT abstain!

ACUMEN
A more positive one. I like this one. I claim acumen.

ANTEBELLUM
I learned this one in 11th grade English from Mrs. Oldroyd.

AUSPICIOUS
Hah! Check it! I wonder if this list was why "auspicious" was a challenge word for us and why I used it in SOS.

BELIE
NOT pronounced "belly," as one high school friend of mine used to think.

BELLICOSE
My teens. Yep, they are. What do you mean, I'm being melodramatic?

BOWDLERIZE
I just like to say this one aloud.

CHICANERY
This one is just oozing with plot possibilities.

15 comments:

Kristina P. said...

I only knew about half of these.

Kimberly said...

Chicanery! I am so using that today! What a fab idea this is, Annette.

Lara said...

I'm 5 for 10 here. Had to look the others up.

Including bowdlerize.

And now I can say that a book I checked out from the library had been bowdlerized by a previous patron. All vulgarity had been blacked out and replaced with less shocking words.

Jordan McCollum said...

Words neither I (Linguistics BA) nor my mother (English BA) know: abstemious. My mother asked if I meant (some other word I also don't know). There's a word that never came up in high school texts, SAT studying or college texts. Yep. Every high school grad should know that one. Especially the people who are lucky to get by on the six-year-high-school-plan.

I see adjure far more frequently than abjure. Bur far more frequently than "never" doesn't say much.

Best use ever of bellicose:

Harriet.
Harry-ette.
Hard-hearted harbinger of haggis.

Beautiful, bemuse-ed, bellicose butcher.

Un-trust... ing.
Un-know... ing.
Un-love... ed?

"He wants you back,"
he screamed into the night air
like a fireman going to a window
that has no fire...
except the passion of his heart.

I am lonely.
It's really hard.
This poem...

sucks.

Annette Lyon said...

I think Jordan wins for best comment of the week. Or month. Maybe year.

I'm almost hyperventilating over here.

Myrna Foster said...

This post and Jordan's comment made me happy! Thanks!

DeNae said...

Pfft. I use all of those words every day and twice on Sunday. Of course, I usually rearrange the letters. And some of the letters I eliminate completely. And sometimes I add letters, cuz I'm THAT literate.

And I could write a poem like Jordan's if I wanted to. Of course, I'd start by rearranging all the letters...

Jessica G. said...

Oh boy...guess I better go back to high school. I only knew six (and one of those I'm gonna have to double check).

Leslee said...

I'm so glad everyone admitted they didn't know what all ten words meant. Thanks for the English lesson, Annette.

Annette Lyon said...

(Quick note on Jordan's comment: It's a "poem" from the movie "So I Married an Ax Murderer." Hysterical scene. Totally dating myself . . .)

T said...

SO glad someone helped me understand bowdlerize... and now that I know it's a word I'm off to do exactly that to a book I can't otherwise stand to read. (I promise it's not a library book!)

Loved "So I Married an Ax Murderer" - as long as I wasn't trying to watch it with my in-laws at least!!!

wendy said...

Um...I bought a CD named Lady Antebellum....does that count.

An Ordinary Mom said...

Apparently I need to brush up on my vocab. Thanks for getting me started!

Heidi Ashworth said...

There were a couple that I wasn't terribly familiar with which surprised me b/c once I meet a word, I never forget it. People have told me they had to read Miss D with a dictionary at hand. It makes me feel bad b/c I went out of my way to take out a lot of the language that I thought would be unfamiliar to the average reader (I originally wrote it for a pretty narrow niche market, i.e. the Jane Austen lover). Still, I couldn't tell you what some of those meant. Alas, I have been taken down a peg (or two)!

Lisa Loo said...

I LOVE words. Ususally when I say that the whole room falls silent--but after reading your posts and comments. My people, my people. Especially Wendy. She is my new hero.

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