Interested in words and the English language? You don’t necessarily have to be a committed logophile to gain pleasure from Oh My Word!
Our mother tongue can provide hours of fun. Unusual vocabulary doesn’t have to discombobulate.
Four letter words regularly hang in the air here at the MannedUp.com office. ‘Grok’, for example, got us talking just the other day while a member of the team was having a keek at Oh My Word!
We decided to get in touch with Lottie Gross, one of the people behind www.ohmyword.xyz, to find out more.
“It all began with when we read the word ‘grok’ for the first time…OhMyWord.xyz is a supporting platform to our Chrome extension and Android app. The extension itself came about because we (myself and my partner, in business and life) wanted an app that would simply save words to a bespoke dictionary for reference later on. On too many occasions have we come across words online or in books and magazines that we’ve liked, and wanted to keep them but had no dedicated space to do so – ‘grok’ was the final straw. My partner is a developer, I’m a writer and we’re both logophiles, so we decided to create Oh My Word!” explains Lottie, who is also a writer and editor.
About Oh My Word!
“OhMyWord.xyz provides a place for people to expand their vocabulary. Whether it’s just through learning about the app and extension and how to use them, or discovering new words through our content,” she adds.
The site, we learnt, is aimed at a broad audience. It was launched in January 2016. Since then there have been more than 600 installs of the extension. An Android app has also been released and a progressive web app is being developed.
“Whether it’s writers who want a place to store words they’d like to use in the future, or language students who want to broaden their vocabulary beyond what the schools can teach them. Or perhaps you’re just a bit of a word nerd,” says Lottie.
Feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive. New, increasingly user-friendly versions of the extension and app are released frequently.
Words, words, words
We were intrigued as to why somebody finds words so interesting, particularly at a time when society seems to be dumbing down.
“They’re these little things that we use every day and we don’t often stop to think about where they came from or how they have changed over time. I’m a writer by trade, so I’m naturally aware of words—which ones I like, which ones I don’t. I’ve a keen interest in etymology too, so I’m often intrigued by the way a word sounds because I can’t link it to its Latin origins. I also talk a lot, so I like to use words that roll off the tongue!” answers Lottie, sending us dashing to find a dictionary to look up ‘etymology’.
“It’s true that many of the words I love are going out of fashion. You don’t hear people using ‘aplomb’, ‘woebegone’ or ‘wherewithal’ half as much as they once did. But that’s the nature of language. I wouldn’t argue that language is dumbing down, but that it’s changing and adapting to suit the needs of the people, and brilliant new words are being invented every day,” says Lottie before providing a couple of examples.
An ‘internaut’ is a habitual/skilled user of the internet. A ‘phablet’, meanwhile, is a hybrid of a phone and a tablet.
“Having a varied vocabulary makes you a better writer,” she says before adding that’s why she loves learning new words.
“It’s also about self-expression. So often people get stuck on only the words they’ve been taught, so learning more words, new and old, can help you better express what you’re saying,” she adds.
The perfectly shaped…word
So why do certain words interest Lottie?
“Often it’s because I’m unsure of their etymology, but mostly it’s because they sound nice or have particularly specific meanings. I love words that can perfectly describe something. ‘Callipygian’, for example, means having well-shaped buttocks,” she answers, causing us to nod in concision.
“The word ‘inglenook’ pleases me because it is as cosy as it sounds (a corner by a fireplace), and you only have to say ‘absquatulate’ (to leave or decamp) out loud to understand why I like that one,” says Lottie, causing us to reach for the dictionary again.
Maybe we should move with times and install the Oh My Word! app?