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About Word Watcher

The Word Watcher blog serves as a repository for all things lexical. This blog explores the nuances of individual words and the latent power hidden within them. You are invited to join the author, Christina, as she discusses etymology, compares and contrasts synonyms, and traces the evolution of modern words.

Here is a list of our current categories:

Age Before Beauty. Pick up that dusty brown Webster’s from the sixties and you’re going to find a treasure trove of ancient words. Well, treasure might be a subjective term – some of these words are riddled with syllables and ugly letter combinations that hurt the eyes. To lexophiles, though, nothing could be so valuable as an archaic word. After all, most of these words represent concepts that are no longer represented in the English language by anything shorter than a sentence. Age Before Beauty pays due homage to these elderly citizens of the retirement home dictionary.

Synonym Smash. Bad or evil. Happy or content. Dog or hound. Rascal or hoodlum. Words used synonymously rarely have quite the same flavor on your tongue, and the connotations of a word are vastly different from those of its companion words. Here we take a duo or trio of synonyms and “smash” the illusion of equivalence, talking about what makes each one unique and irreplaceable. As a bonus, we discuss how to use each word in a sentence and how that word changes the atmosphere of your writing.

Word Seeds. Did you know that the word galaxy originally came from the greek word galaktos, meaning “milk?” Or that the word treason can be traced back to the Latin word, traditionem, which meant “surrender, delivery, to hand over?” Sometimes the history of a word hardly seems to reflect on its current usage. That’s what Word Seeds is for – discussing the evolution of a given word and providing readers with an opportunity to get to know that word’s true character. Talking about etymology can also be a surprising fount of creativity, too.

Mistaken Identity. Most logophiles feel the pressing need to point out when words are used incorrectly, spelled wrong, mixed up with their homophones and homonyms, or just plain neglected. We can’t bear to see words abused or treated poorly by others; it’s our weakness and our strength. Mistaken Identity features an oft-mistreated word and attempts to enlighten others about its plight.

ConNotes. Along a similar vein as Synonym Smash, ConNotes examines the connotations of a single word in detail and how that word can change its meaning entirely depending on who uses or observes it. ConNotes takes the observer effect to the next level. When I say “home,” you might think of a flat in the bustling city of London while I’m thinking of a farmhouse in a small rural U.S. town. The very principle of ConNotes requires that we do not simply present one or two possible interpretations of a word but that we gather as many interpretations as possible. That’s why ConNotes is a discussion featurette; we give you the word and the author’s personal impressions of it and then we hand it over to you, the reader, for you to describe what feelings the word invokes in you. ConNotes is a unique featurette in that it allows us not only to enrich our relationship with words but also our relationship with other people and cultures.

Words On the Street is a special category for words out in their natural habitat, which is pretty much everywhere. Posts in this category are a mixed bag of treats: you could get a picture, a link, or perhaps a discussion relating to words out and about. This category focuses less on individual words and their use in communication and more on wholesale words in more unusual, or at least less direct, mediums.

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2 comments

  1. […] more information about some of Word Watcher’s featurettes, please visit our “About” page.  I won’t always stick to familiar territory, so the featurettes are by no means […]


  2. […] this be a case of Mistaken Identity? No, because if you tried to use the word moot in academic writing to mean both arguable and of […]



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