On Oct. 16, 1758, the great lexicographer and philologist, Noah Webster, was born. He is famous for his American Dictionary of the English Language published in 1812 which defined 70,000 words.
Since its publication, many dictionaries have followed. My version is Webster's College Dictionary. I like words. When I'm reading I continually run to my dictionary to look up a word's meaning. Here are a few of the words I've discovered.
Agita describes my condition after eating too many tomatoes. It means heartburn.
Auger sounds like it ought to drill a hole but it indicates a soothe sayer or a prophet, and what those persons do-predict or prognosticate (that's a good word, too). The wooly worm augers a hard winter.
Limn is another word which doesn't feel like one because its hardly there when you say it. But it describes something I used to do, such as draw and paint, or describe or portray.
This next word I heard a long time ago, and I like it because I like saying it -- concatenation. It's almost like its meaning as it has five syllables chained together.
Here are a few more. Palimpsest, which I used to think was palimpset, describes a parchment from which writing has been erased. As I compose this column a lot of words are erased but the column is not a palimpsest.
Exuberate is another fun word to say which feels like what it describes -- enthusiasm.
And ethereal also feels like its meaning -- light, airy, heavenly.
Some words bring pictures to our minds. The final word on my list is harvest-a season of ripened crops and gathering them in. I envision as I say it the smell of grain being cut, the crispness of the air, the bounties of a garden, the changing leaves from green to bright colors. I got married in September on a bright, cool morning that promised a good day. At our wedding reception we created ambience (another good word) with a record (yes, I'm that old) of pianist Roger Williams playing "Autumn Leaves" and other songs.
Some poets use words in a pleasing way that bring pictures to our minds. My sister, Sylvia, writes wonderful poetry. I like her poem "The Harvest" from which I quote the first verse:
"A farmer stacks his hay, threshes his grain,
And garners a silo of corn.
Tills under a garden
Stripped of its nutritious legumes,
Which his helpmate
Has dried ...pickled ...bottled ...or frozen
And cached away
To provide a delicious, cozy meal
On a future wintery day."
One of my favorite poems about fall is old fashioned but has a lilt to its rhyme. James Whitcomb Riley's "When the Frost is on the Punkin" paints a rural picture some of us oldies remember. Here is the second verse:
"They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here-
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur'that no painter has the colorin' to mock-
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!"
Enjoy the harvest of the words you hear and read.