I love words. Really. I get super excited about them. My excitement would sometimes illicit eye rolls or groans from students, but that didn't slow me down. If the teacher isn't enthusiastic about vocabulary instruction how can the students be? I've read multiple books about the English language, books about language development in children, even a book about the writing of the Oxford English Dictionary, who's title contained the words "murder and insanity" so that was a must read. My love language is words of affirmation. I even made a list of my favorite words, just to see them on the page. I adore the way some words sound when spoken aloud. The pronunciation and sound of certain words is just requires them to be spoken.
Have I convinced you I'm a big nerd yet? Anyway, I decided to share my favorite words with you each Wednesday. (Why Wednesday? Well, without doubt, I have a weakness for alliteration.)
Today's Word: Undulate
Three syllables, rhymes with rate or eight. It could also be pronounced to rhyme with lit or bit, but the first is my personal favorite. According to my handy dandy OAD (Oxford American Dictionary) undulate is verb with two meanings: 1) move with a smooth wavelike motion 2) have a wavy form or outline.
The first time I remember reading this word was in Jack Prelutsky's book If Not For the Cat, a collection animal riddles in haiku. He uses the word to describe the movements of the jellyfish and it is beautiful. I can't print his poem here, but really, just check the book out of the library or get yourself a copy.
Recently, I visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach California, which was stunning and packed with fascinating creatures. The creatures I couldn't get enough of were the jellyfish. All I could think of was UNdulate, UNdulate, UNdulate. It even sounds like wave like motion. Below are a couple of videos I took of the entrancing jelly fish at the aquarium. I tried to take photos, but it was their movements that made them so intriguing to watch.
Parents, when you are out and about with your little ones, look for times like these to teach new words. Your children are much more likely to remember a wonderful word like undulate because you said it while watching jellies at the aquarium or hearing the wailing of a siren. Children are never too young to hear big words. If they misuse them that can be corrected, but hearing more words even at very young ages can increase verbal understanding and abstract processing.
As we explore marvelous words together, I look forward to hearing from other word nerds about their favorite words and how they acquired them. Vocabulary doesn't have to be a boring class with memorized definitions. Word lovers unite!
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."