Dictionary for Clarity of Meaning (from #109)

[From Marsha – below is an idea that appealed to me. Long ago when my father used words I was unfamiliar with, I’d ask him the meaning and he’d just say, “I don’t know but it sounds right.” He was usually correct, but how often there is more than one meaning to a word; and so what are we communicating to another.   Once in college I was given a list of words to discover what they meant to different people.   After many conversations, I wondered how we ever understand each other at all. Since I transcribed this little excerpt, I have been looking up the meaning of words which is so easy now with our computers and iphones.   So having said that, here is the delightful idea from a long ago workshop.]

Someone in the audience must have said.   “Well, I find that the ideas I get are very valuable…..   (the question was inaudible)

Well an idea is a picture in the mind and a picture in the mind is an idea if you want to use that particular definition. Did you look idea up in the dictionary?    It’s most interesting if you’d care to look up a series of words. Start off with the word “idea”.   Then look up the word “Ideal” – it might lead you to the word “fantasy”. It might lead you to a lot of things because there’s a word in there that describes that you only think you know the meaning of. So start off with the dictionary and see where it leads you.

Last week we were down in Albuquerque and some lady got up and said, “Would you recommend the best book for us to read because I’m just so tired of reading book after book – what’s the best book?”  I said, “the dictionary – it’s got all the words in it you could ever want.”   She thought I was being a “smarty”; but I still think it’s the best, if you’re gonna read a book.

If you really understood all the meanings of words, you’d be a lot less confused because we have only conceived the meaning of the words we use; and we misuse words all the time.

[from Marsha – Now when someone uses a word I’m not familiar with or a word that could have more than one meaning, I ask – “What does that word mean to you.”   Some examples of words that I have asked of people is faith, happiness, authority, and sometimes even god refraining from my opinion. I just want to hear what their’s is.   So you can experiment with it during your conversations with others.   It is really fun and quite enlightening – not to judge their definition, but to have a clearer understanding between you.]

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