In second grade, I waged war with my teacher over words. The task she took great delight in failing me at seemed simple to her. Take the list of words she provided such as large, and small, and match them up with words that were the same. Looking back, I think what she wanted me to do was match them to words like big and tiny. At the time, this escaped me.

I don’t feel this was a mark of unintelligence, although my teacher certainly thought so. To me, the words weren’t the same at all. After all, if they were the same one of them would be taken out of the language as redundant. Right? If she’d asked me to find similar words, I might have handled this a lot better, but that’s not the point.

Many, many years later, I still don’t think big is the same as large, and I still look up words I know but infrequently use to be sure of their meaning. Most recently, it was the word, “Offal.”

For those who don’t know, “offal” is the culinary term for the guts of an animal. I wasn’t using it that way in the idea I was exploring. The quote from my notebook is something like this:

“Dragon hunters,” Madam Seet said. She spat on the ground to cleanse her mouth of the word. “They throw out the best parts of the pig. They treat it like offal.”

Sounds good, except from Madam Seet’s perspective, offal is the best part of the pig. >.<

I haven’t figured out how to fix it yet, and since it is going into my idea box anyway I’m not going to push it. I’m not really sure about anything right now. I’m not even sure this is where I wanted to go with this blog post. (After all, an etymologist studies the history of the words, and here I am studying their meaning instead.)

Oh well. I’m content to leave things as they are. Tomorrow: The Idea Box, my cure for writer’s block. ^^