It’s probably no surprise to anyone, but I’m a big fan of words. When writing, I love it when I find just the right one, with just the right nuanced meaning to get an idea across. I like words that are slightly old fashioned or not commonly used; words that are whimsical; and words that are evocative. I’d give you some examples but naturally, all the words in my head went into hiding as soon as I tried to find them.
I’ve been doing more of my reading on my Kindle app recently and one of the things I’ve really enjoyed is being able to click on a word and instantly get a definition while I’m reading along. Sure, I could pull out the dictionary when reading a physical book, but that’s not nearly as instantaneous. I’m finding that I’m looking up words fairly frequently – even words I’m pretty familiar with – just to be sure I’ve got their meaning correct. I’ll admit there have been a few occasions where my understanding of the meaning of a word was not quite as precise as I’d thought.
Looking up a word when you are not completely sure of the meaning is one thing, but what happens when you encounter a phrase that leaves you puzzled?
I’m thinking about a book I read a while back that had the line:
“…it makes me nostalgic for the future.” ~ Promise Me Dad, Joe Biden
I loved the phrase but, even in context, I had trouble deciding what it really meant. How can you be nostalgic for something that hasn’t happened yet? Did it mean missing something now that couldn’t happen in the future? I was puzzled and a foray into Google was unhelpful.
That phrase made me think of other phrases I’ve encountered that I’ve enjoyed but have left me equally baffled.
There’s this definition of a hero:
“…his face looked like a catcher’s mitt with a jaw.” ~ Jenny Crusie, What the Lady Wants
Can you picture that? I really can’t, even after an internet search for images of catcher’s mitts. The heroine finds him attractive, so I assume that it’s an endearing image, rather than brown, leathery, and possibly worn out, but I’m really not sure.
Currently my favourite “I’m not sure what it means but I love it” phrase is:
“She had a laugh like a French horn and a voice like a root vegetable.” ~ Louise Penny, A Rule Against Murder
I know what a French horn sounds like, but my root vegetables have been sadly voice-less, so I really can’t visualize (audio-alize) this character, but the phrase tickled me when I read it the other day and it makes me chuckle even now.
So, have you encountered any unique phrasing lately that you’ve found endearing but confusing? If so, I’d love to hear them. If not, maybe you can give me some hints on the phrases above.