Words that (grey) matter


I love to learn new words.  Let’s call new words category A ­­– words that I don’t already have stored in my head – my latest being ‘oligarchy’ which is firmly positioned centre in my grey matter now.

With the latest print edition of the Collins English dictionary contacting 50, 000 newly-added words I can’t help but sigh and ask myself, how on earth will I learn the new words (category B – newly submitted words) ­when I’m still storing category A words in my neurological hub?

I should really have no fear because I’ve read articles like this and so I know that out of the 17 principles of having a healthy brain I meet but five of the criteria, so technically I have enough brain storage to stockpile category A and B words.

17 principles to brain gymnastics

I ‘tick’ these, do you?

  • Physical exercise
  • Life-long learning
  • Mental stimulation
  • Social interaction
  • Sleep
  • Stress management
  • Laughter
  • Vegetables
  • Care for your heart
  • Musical training
  • Repeated testing, rather than repeated studying

But uh oh, fail!

X Healthy breakfast – nothing, and coffee
X Blueberries – only if they are on special offer
X Red wine – Prosecco for me, always
X Learning a language via song – who really does this?
X Neurobics – changing your routine – never

I’ll run through my top three now.

One: physical exercise
Researchers have found the areas of the brain that are stimulated through exercise are associated with memory and learning. Aha, tick!  I work out most days now, after having three major spine operations – I knew it had to count towards something.

Two: lifelong learning
Learning over time enhances memory and the survival of new brain cells.  So, you are literally growing your brain, imagine that! Done. I’m learning to cook – my husband would say this is ‘ongoing’.  And it’s a priority for me to stay informed about what’s going on in the world, that’s every-day lifelong learning.

Three: neurobics
Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D., a professor of neurobiology at Duke University Medical Center, coined neurobics, a unique system of brain exercises using your five physical senses and your emotional sense in unexpected ways.  In other words, shaking up your everyday routine. I’m afraid, this is definitely not for me.  I use the same locker at the gym; always get my clothes out the night before work, and I walk the same route to and from the train station.

So, now that I’ve given myself an ego boost by meeting 71% of the brain criteria, I’m feeling mentally agile and at full learning capacity to absorb the newly submitted – category B words.

Imagine my inaudible gasp (of dismay) when I find out that I must learn horrible words:

Selfie – if you don’t know what this word is I’m afraid you’ve been hiding under a rock, may I suggest you type on your keyboard: hideous spoof song ‘selfie’ into YouTube, hmm catchy!

Onesie – simple, all-in-one outfit.  You know, the one your relatives bought you for Christmas and you exchanged it on the 26 December.

Photobomb – an uninvited person (or animal) in a photo, normally taken on a smartphone.

Adorkable – a blend of adorable and dork, how charming!

Twerking – apart from meaning the worst word of all time? A perverse dance ritual performed by moving the hips rapidly back and forth while standing with the feet apart (also known as humping).

But it’s ok! There’re some valid, fun and useful category B words too, phew!:

Al desko – a meal at one’s desk, at one’s place of work. I’m partial to an al desko lunch whilst browsing BBC news.

Bitcoin – a system of open source peer-to-peer software for the creation and exchange of payment in a certain type of cryptocurrency. No, not Kryptonite.

Textonym – one of two or more words that can be generated by pressing the same key combinations on a mobile phone: book = cool

Vape – to inhale nicotine vapour. Thus vaping (to vape).

And that’s enough to keep you going!  I skipped my healthy breakfast so I’m off now to learn a language via song, sift through some category A words and remove some category B from my over-exerted grey matter.

Picture citation: My Name is Rom My Brain, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

29 thoughts on “Words that (grey) matter

  1. Funny and fun post! I ticked off about the same number as you. I must admit I did included learning a language in song because of course I know the abc’s set to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. I hate to admit I know all the horrible words and only one of the valid ones. Of course, thanks to you, I know them now. Thanks for the entertainment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In answer to your question, no, no one ever learns a language via song. Somehow that must of been slipped in by someone trying to sell goofy DVD’s. Fortunately most people don’t twerk either.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lenie5860

    This was a neat post but boy, do I feel dated. I used to do the Reader’s Digest ‘do you know this word’ when I was young and felt pretty proud when I aced it but looking at the new words you listed, the only ones I know were selfie and onesie. Since things change so fast when it comes to the web I don’t think I’ll bother learning the rest and hope everyone will still understand me when I speak plain English.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. LOVED this post! Made me laugh out loud. Twerking is the most horrible word…not to mention the act itself! Ha! I cannot imagine learning a language through song…that just plain crazy! What I’d like to see is less new words and more of a comeback of our beautiful language through beautiful words…like amorous, euphoria that are rarely used out of print anymore:) Oh yeah…I knew all the ugly words but I try not to use them:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am not a big fan of the new words in our language. Selfie and the continue use of it drives me nuts. The overflowing joy derived from someone taking a selfie is baffling to me. Adorkable I have not heard of. Twerking should be put in the garbage disposal and resurrected, never. I got a few laughs out of this post so am grateful 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fun post Anna! I’ve never taken a selfie or worn a onesie but I know that my kids have. I guess it’s good that language evolves so that we stay in touch with what’s happening in the world. (I don’t want to know if they’ve “twerked”.)

    I score reasonably well on the brain gymnastics scale – sleep and laughter come naturally to me, both usually follow on from the red wine!

    Can’t wait to see how you bring ‘oligarchy’ into your next post. I’ve enjoyed my first visit to your excellent blog and look forward to seeing more of the same.

    I score reasonably well on the brain gymnastics scale – sleep and laughter come naturally to me, both usually follow on from the red wine!

    Can’t wait to see how you bring ‘oligarchy’ into your next post. I’ve enjoyed my first visit to your excellent blog and look forward to seeing more of the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was very funny and informative post. I have learned a lot of new words and now I will try to remember but I hope that I will also try to increase the power of my brain by following some tips from provided link. Between, for me Twerking is something different and now a days this is very famous after Miley Cyrus twerking.
    I will never prefer learning a language by singing, I know it can never help me 🙂


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