V is for Vocabulary

Even though they were very wise, the owls had a limited vocabulary.


I often walk into the living room these days and find my father with the dictionary in his lap.

He still does word puzzles — the daily Jumble and crossword — every day, although he comments often that they’re making them harder.

He needs help with them — sometimes (often) by asking me or anyone in the room, and sometimes by trying to look words up in the dictionary.

As a kid, I can remember asking how to spell a word, and he would say, “Look it up in the dictionary.” Of course, that didn’t make total sense to me because I needed to know how to spell it to look it up. Somehow it worked though.

Dictionaries have always been important to my father.

When he left for college, he was given a dictionary that he still has today. It’s tattered and worn and not the dictionary I find on his lap.

He gave me a dictionary when I went to college. I still have it.

I gave one of my sons a dictionary when he went to college — not an electronic one, but a heavy hardcover one, where he could feel the weight of all those words.

Dictionaries were a fertilizer that fed my roots.

Having a good vocabulary is a gift from my parents, one for which I am continually thankful.


Teacher from A Boy Who Wants a Dinosaur by Hiawyn Oram and Satoshi Kitamura
Fence from Catch Me, Catch Me! A Thomas the Tank Engine Story illustrated by Owain Bell
Owls from Mother Goose Treasury, 2009 Publications International — it has a long list of illustrators and I don’t know which one did the owls

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7 thoughts on “V is for Vocabulary

  1. Love both the anecdote and the collage for this one. We’ve got a variety of dictionaries here, including a two-volume OED. Looking up and learning new words remains a favorite activity.

  2. Pingback: A-Z Challenge Reflection/Meet & Greet! | A Texan's View of Upstate New York

  3. Wow, I agreed with you as a kid. How can I look it up if I don’t know how to spell it? haha!

    But on the more sentimental note, when I went away to college, I was the first of my family to go. Education/Vocabulary was not something that I was raised with, I had to learn for myself. But when I transferred form community college to University, my mentor (who had adopted me as his own daughter over the years) from the community school came to help me settle in, since it was his old Alma Mater. He gave me the tour of the campus, that only an impassioned Alumni can, showed me the best haunts to study, where the shortcuts were to those hard to reach classes, and the coolest places to grab a bite and run into some classmates. It was probably the most special day I had, at the end we stopped by the college bookstore, he purchased me a huge heavy Webster’s Dictionary, and a more manageable sized Thesaurus. I had never actually used a real thesaurus…

    Through the rest of my college career those books were two of the most precious things in that room, and most used as a Creative Writing major. Your story really stirred up that memory, and I felt the need to share. 😉 Hoping to do the same for my daughters, so glad to know I’m not alone.

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