Finding the Right Words

Finding the Right Words

Classics. Stories that stand the test of time.

Some people despise the classics (high school students required to read them) but not me.  I am a professed bookworm as well as a linguaphile; a language and word lover. Some people would say a word freak but let’s not split hairs here.   Ok, maybe just a nerd.   I read Charles Dickens’ novels of my accord to learn vocabulary. I love finding words with the correct nuanced meanings to include in my writing. Puns are fun too! Just ask Charles Dodgson.

Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carrol, wrote two of my favorite books of all time: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. He loved puns, nonsense and making up new words.

When I was a kid, I received this copy.

Front Cover of Alice in Wonderland

I love this book and so have kept it over the years; it is approaching being a half a century old.

Alice in Wonderland Mad Tea Party

Besides beautiful page illustrations at the beginning of each chapter, the page margins have miniature pictures with word definitions.

Inside of Alice in Wonderland book


Close up of Alice in Wonderland book margins with pictures

Every eight year old child needs to know what a portmanteau is, right?

But now that I am getting on in years, sometimes the word with the exact meaning that I am trying to convey becomes elusive. Having access to a dictionary is imperative. With it on my computer, I don’t even have to get up anymore. But even dictionaries sometimes can’t keep current with our ever-changing means of communication.

Just as technology, language also evolves. We have to have a new word with each innovation.

I am not always sure what the right word is.

Coffee sign

Clearly, these folks don’t either.

One day, I noticed that I kept mistakenly referring to my posts as blogs. I started to autocorrect:   “Fremont, they are posts not blogs. Posts not blogs.” I needed to use the proper terminology so I wouldn’t sound completely stupid.

Unfortunately, dementia is in my genetics. Occasionally, others need to insert the correct word for me. Sometimes, it is a guessing game till they hit the right one.   A doohickey? A thingumbob? Oftentimes, it can be really frustrating for speaker and listener.

However, there is one area where it has actually become a delight to be ignorant; mistakes regarding social media jargon and/ or current slang. Our eldest son loves to sarcastically inform us that whatever slang we (my husband and I) are attempting to use is obsolete and has been for at least two years.

We have become eager to engage in these types of exchanges just so we can see what level of disgust can be elicited from our teenagers and the funny facial expressions that ensue.

Here are few.

So I was talking to them one night about something they had showed me on YouTube and to remind them, I said, “You know, that thing on Facetube.”

“Facetube, Mom?!  What’s Facetube?!!!”

I mistakenly combined Facebook and YouTube into one. I suffered much derision at their hands for that faux pas.

“Did you put the number sign on it?” My husband asked one night.

Disgusted sigh. “Number sign?  Hash tag. It’s hash tag.”

A few days later, my husband refers to his news site.


“You know; the news site.”

Roll of the eyes. “Feed. It’s a newsfeed.”

“How do I send this out to others?”

A glaring look of antipathy from them. “Do you mean share?”

There is any number of new words to ponder and/or use incorrectly to annoy and provoke.

“Twerking? Huh?”

“Cos play? What in the world? Oh, similar to larping but not exactly. ”

“Meme? How do you pronounce it?”

“Butt-chugging? Gross. Never mind, I don’t want to know that one.

When we need a giggle, we ask our kids, “Can you help me upload this video to my Facebook site?”

A despondent nod of the head. “Not everything is a site. Page. It’s a page.”

“Oops! Page.” A devilish smirk appears on my face. “My bad.”

Can you imagine the confused looks on Charles Dickens or Lewis Carrol’s face with this unfamiliar phrase? What would be their reply?   “I say, old chap, I don’t want to be vilified and rudely stigmatized as a dotard and a fool but…. My bad? What is this?”

Imagine their reactions if addressed as such: “Yo, Chuck, what up bro? Let’s be cray cray. YOLO. Get your device and let’s take a selfie.”

Time and language marches on.



dr j fremont

Subscribe to Dr J Fremont!

About J Fremont

Author/veterinarian J. Fremont has created Magician of Light, a novel about famed glassmaker Rene Laliqué. Exercise your imagination. Enjoy!