This gave me my first laugh for the day…

Most professional writers have a cutesy answer to the common question “where do you get your ideas?” They’ll say things like “I don’t know,” or “stop asking me that,” or “I make them up, okay? I make them up.” Hilarious! But unhelpful nonsense all the same…

The past couple days at work, Billy and I have been discussing odd little features about language–weird origin things, like how pie came from magpie, where you’re not really sure if that is the true origin or if someone made it up who thought they were clever…or who really was insane. (to quote Tony Haigh, “If the hat fits, wear it!”)

Anyway, aside from all that, I think my favorite word is “vicarious.” I can remember distinctly the moment I learned that word. It was a vocabulary word in some high school English class. Through a drone of nonsense words that would only show up on the SAT, this little gem popped up. I read the definition, blinked, and thought to myself..

“This is the single most useful word I have ever learned in school, ever.”

What a great word. It is such a complicated and yet very common abstract experience. Several sentences’ (or at least one lengthy one) worth of sufficient explanation summed up into one tiny, glorious, USEFUL word. Because of its usefulness in life, I learned the word instantly. I cannot remember another word I learned from a vocabulary list, though by now I’m sure they’ve been submitted somewhere in my language database.

Billy said there was a German word that means “something you don’t want to do, but have to do,” and that we needed such a word in English, since that pretty much sums up most of life. I forget what the German word was.

Words are so cool. That’s why I keep linguistical word magicians under my eye: Dave , Ryan , Brendan , Mariah , and all you other writer sorts.