A list for the new year

Last week, I asked friends to send a single word for column inspiration. They sent an amazing list of words, including joy, perspective, procrastinate, conflicted, mercy, vacation, praline, sparkle, meditate, peace, angels, laughter, serenity, kumquat, hope, serendipity, kinkajou, penultimate, obstreperous, Africa, blessed and bucolic.
The words and their origins are as varied as my friends! The sheer variety of words and people who sent them my way was enough to inspire another Long Story Short — and I am always grateful for inspiration. Having had the privilege to share my thoughts, stories and life with so many of you for another year (topping more than 600 columns since I began back in early 2002) is something I don’t take for granted.
One of my friends suggested the word transpontine, a word I had never heard. It’s an adjective that means across or beyond a bridge. The teacher in me is ashamed I didn’t figure out its meaning — trans for cross and the French pont for bridge should have been all the clues I needed. It’s a great word that is appropriate for this time of year. To me, it sounds like a word filled with possibility, of opportunity, of the unknown.
Learning new and useful words brings me inexplicable joy. One of the best things about using an electronic reader is the being able to look up and mark words on the spot. I find myself checking the definition of a lot more words when I use an electronic reader than when reading traditional books — even words whose meaning I know or can surmise. I like the ease of checking to get the full story and giving my brain a little nudge.
In an attempt expand my vocabulary, I’ve taken to highlighting words I’d like to use more — some are new and unfamiliar and some I learned long ago and have simply forgotten to use through the years.
We do that, don’t we? Sometimes we overuse the familiar. Incorporating new in our lives takes energy and effort, but the new year provides the perfect jumping off point to do so — and lists help.
During 2013, my words-to-use list has grown. I’ve decided to have some fun and share a portion of my list with you. Throughout the coming year, I’ll do my best to use each of the following words in a column. If you spot one, email me and I’ll send you an original poem, probably one dedicated to that word — or maybe to you. Truthfully, I’d rather have you keep me accountable regarding my diet and exercise, but we’ll start the play-along-at-home segment appropriately with a list of words to be used in an upcoming column:

Galahad-like: meaning one who is pure, noble and unselfish
accede: to express approval or give consent
Rubicon: a bounding or limiting line, especially when crossed, commits a person irrevocably
aesthete: one having sensitivity to the beautiful, especially an art
rivulet: a small stream
jingoism: extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy
Sisyphean: endless and futile
djinn: a genie
athwart: across
trenchant: incisive, vigorous, effective, energetic
byword: saying or a proverb
anneal: to strengthen or toughen
acme: the highest point or summit
bonhomie: good-natured, easy friendliness
recondite: difficult for one of ordinary understanding to comprehend
prolix: marked by an excess of words
vulpine: foxy or crafty

For practice: Tis the transpontine season. As we say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014, I wish you much bonhomie in your adventures. Here’s to a wonderful 2014!

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