Word Nerd Day

January 9 is a special holiday for me because I am definitely a word nerd. Some sites offer boring descriptions of this day, by saying it is a day to increase your vocabulary. But I think Adweek hits it on the head when they give clues for telling if you are a word nerd. “You love to read. You have at least one “Word a Day” calendar, app or e-mail subscription. You can’t look past spelling and punctuation errors on signs and restaurant menus. You may or may not carry a red pen on your person to correct egregious errors on the fly.” I don’t carry a red pen, but I can’t help noticing grammatical errors whenever they occur. It’s as if my brain is on automatic, correcting the mistake, though thankfully, it almost always happens internally, so I don’t annoy people! Of course, I also get Merriam Webster’s Word of the Day in my email box every morning.

Let me add a few other indications. You search a thesaurus either in print or online to find exactly the word you need, but often get sidetracked by following the relations among words. You are very particular about which dictionary you own. You always do the word or grammar quizzes on Facebook, and most often ace them. You are the go-to person at work to look over emails or other writing. You have a list of favorite words for various reasons. I love ubiquitous and verisimilitude because of the sound, and lath and dun because those are the words that set me on the course of word nerdiness. When I looked them up in the dictionary when young, it was a revelation to me how much richer it made the text when I actually knew what the word meant.

So whether or not you are a word nerd, this is a day to celebrate words.

Quotes about words

I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.–Robert McCloskey

As a poet and writer, I deeply love and I deeply hate words. I love the infinite evidence and change and requirements and possibilities of language; every human use of words that is joyful, or honest, or new because experience is new. . . . But, as a black poet and writer, I hate words that cancel my name and my history and the freedom of my future: I hate the words that condemn and refuse the language of my people in America.–June Jordan

Be careful of the words you say,
Keep them short and sweet.
You never know, from day to day,
Which ones you’ll have to eat.—Anonymous

A great many people think that polysyllables are a sign of intelligence.–Barbara Walters

I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.–Emily Dickinson

I like good strong words that mean something.–Louisa May Alcott

If words are to enter men’s minds and bear fruit, they must be the right words shaped cunningly to pass men’s defenses and explode silently and effectually within their minds.–J. B. Phillips

It’s always a bit of a struggle to get the words right, whether we’re a Hemingway or a few fathoms below his level.–Rene J. Cappon

Kind words are a creative force, a power that concurs in the building up of all that is good, and energy that showers blessings upon the world.– Lawrence G. Lovasik

My task which I am trying to achieve is by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel – it is, before all, to make you see. That – and no more, and it is everything.–Joseph Conrad

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