Meditations on Words

I’ve encountered words that I think are in need of help. Unknowingly, they are in the midst of an identity crisis. Because of this, I cannot learn them, know them, retain their existence in my mind. 

I’m reviewing for the GRE, deciding that my only potential escape from the mundane cube I’ve been suffocating in for about two years is graduate school. So, I must get in, freedom is at hand. I’m preparing myself, mentally refreshing, because I’m a horrible test taker and will really only get one shot at this before applications are due. My overly priced vocab flash cards have made me realize how much I miss words, the written word, and how imaginative worlds are woven from the perfect neighboring of words. Almost like alchemy. Word combinations create sentences, meaning, mix and match them and see what product comes from these interactions. It is quite the complex equation, a formula that if something is amiss leaves it all in ruins. 

But this is only possible with the entailed meaning of a word. Meaning is subjective, in the beginning anyway. A word is created, defined, and eventually its existence is accepted, and thus, its meaning has a general consensus for the masses. However, at times I find myself meeting a word for the first time, and upon learning its meaning am confused. This isn’t you? I mean, really, this doesn’t SOUND like you. This is a problem. You’ve been given the wrong identity and you don’t even much know it.

I have no real logic behind this and it just comes from feeling. A meaning feels off, and because of that, I will likely never remember that word. Two examples…take the words Slake and Nadir…just ruminate about the potential meanings of these words or if you already know then proceed to start questioning the definitions pairings with these words.


Slake – to calm down, moderate

Nadir – lowest point

This is an identity crisis at its worst. Slake…it sounds like a nasty thing. Something of evil nature or movement. To slake around. Nadir…really should be a noun. A woman’s name with beautiful dark eyes, rounded like an almond. Nadir knelt by the stream to take a drink of water with her bare hands, blistered from the sun. 

This has always been a problem for me. Meeting words and wanting to change them, find out their true purpose in this language. However, I can’t really argue this on the GRE and must find a way to retain these words even with their poor aliases. But it makes me wonder about the meaning of words, the broader significance of it. Because much of interpretation comes from what we say, write, or read. Words create laws, debates, cement marriages, move people to action or inaction, to change the world…so meaning in itself has so much weight in life that goes unseen.

This entry was published on July 13, 2009 at 2:48 am. It’s filed under Creative Writing, fiction, Literature, Nonfiction, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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