It should come as no surprise that I subscribe to two different “word of the day” emails – I love language and jump at any chance I get to expand my vocabulary. Sometimes I already know the “word of the day”, and other times they’re so obscure I can’t find a use for it in my everyday life, but file it away in my brain for later use. Once in awhile a word comes into my inbox that is new to me and fits perfectly into my life – and today’s word is one of those.
Being a word nerd from a very young age (I was reading chapter books in kindergarten and read the Hobbit for a grade 2 book report when the rest of my class chose Clifford or Franklin books) means that I have a pretty decent vocabulary, and the fact that I took Latin and French in high school helps me figure out words I haven’t come across before. I have a predilection for words that roll off the tongue nicely. Some words just feel right as you say them, and others just always feel awkward and no matter how much you try to make yourself like them, you find yourself using them less and less. I have tons of words that fall into this category – I still try to use them but they never feel right.
Words have a tendency of being tied up in their grammatical rules and losing favour because of that. I’ve often wished there was a way to look at words on their own, separated from all the grammatical constraints that can render them useless. It turns out there is a word for that. The fact that there’s a word specifically for the study of words and vocabulary of a language separate from grammatical aspects, means that I’m not the only one who wants this kind of information. We should start a club or something. There would have to be a ban on word games though, us word nerds can get super serious and uber competitive about Scrabble, Bananagrams, or Upwords, and that wouldn’t be much fun. Hrm. A word nerd club. I’m going to put that on my “great ideas” list that I never seem to manage to get to. How does one start a club anyway? Can anyone start a club? Related idea: a club for people who like to go off on tangents… or have ADHD… or both. I could totally be president of that club.
Back to my word though. It’s a fairly recent word. though significantly older than grok was when I talked about it last month. Lexical dates from the mid 19th century, when I suppose people had time and the literacy skills to start thinking about words more. It comes from the Greek root lexikos which means “of or relating to words”. Not to be confused with the Latin root word Lex which relates to laws or ruling.
Lexical (lex·i·cal) adjective
Of or relating to the words or vocabulary of a language