Friday, August 21, 2009

Vocabulary Word of the Day

I love words. I'm a writer, so that's pretty much a pre-requisite. The more obscure the word, the better. Some of my favorites include: obtuse, apathetic, verbose and concupiscence. The attraction usually doesn't lie in what the word means so much as how it flows. How it rolls around in your mouth. Don't ask me why.

I'm not pretentious enough to use big words to make other people feel stupid, but I jump at the chance to add to my vocabulary. Reading the Sookie Stackhouse books recently has made me consider a ‘word of the day’ calendar. Sookie makes multiple references to the word of the day and how they fit into her day to day life. If I only I wouldn’t forget to flip it and fall weeks behind, I'd get one.

This year at conference, and more recently in a contest announcement I read, a new term has been tossed around that I hadn't heard before - steampunk. I don’t know about you, but to me it brings up confusing images of guys with Mohawks wrapped in fluffy bath towels playing loud, annoying music in a spa resort sauna.

I had to Google it. So not even close. :) It’s not new, but has recently started gaining a foothold in the romance genre, so it has become more relevant to me. Apparently it refers to a fantasy or science fiction sub genre that focuses primarily on the 19th century or Victorian period (where power was mostly generated via steam) but contains adaptations and uses of more modern or fantastical elements like robots or computers. It's also known to have anti-establishment undertones and has cousins like cyberpunk, which was described as more 'dystopian.' It just makes my head hurt to even consider it.

Examples include older scientific romances like H.G. Wells's Time Machine or more modern books or films like Wild, Wild West or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. If you haven’t seen or read any of these, they’re historically based, but the characters either live in an alternate reality or might be inventors that have creations well ahead of their time. I wonder if something like The Prestige (which blew my mind) would fit in this category. I’d seen this stuff before but never considered it was its own genre, or that if it were, it would have a title like “steampunk.”

Whereas steampunk does not have the potential to become one of my new favorite words, I've tucked the concept away in my brain for future use. I thought I would share my knowledge so that you, too, could add it to your word arsenal and when you come across it at some point, will already know all about it.

Have you heard of steampunk before or was I living in a cave? Ever read any? Any new words pop into your vocabulary recently that you’d like to share?

SP

10 comments:

Playground Monitor said...

I heard the word steampunk at conference last month because a friend writes steampunk for Tor. When I asked her what steampunk was, she answered, "Think League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." That made it perfectly clear to me.

I think The Prestige would fit because of the whole Tesla part of the plot. That was an awesome movie but of course it had Hugh Jackman in it. ;-)

Darling Geek said...

I've known the term for years, but, then again, just look at my handle...

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I learned what steampunk was about a year ago. But, like you, I was seriously confused until someone explained it. Then it made sense.

Problem Child said...

I like the word "dystopian" too.

I learned about steampunk a while ago, but it's one of those concepts I only kind of understand. (Probably because it's not my cup of tea to begin with...)

Instigator said...

I heard it at conference last month for the first time and honestly wasn't intrigued enough by the name to figure out what it was. I'm glad to know now though. I will admit it's probably not my cup of tea either.

Instigator

catslady said...

Never heard of it but one of my favorite words is penultimate (next to last). Don't know why I like it but I do lol.

PM's Mother said...

I like the word "Serendipity". Don't ask me why, except for the way it rolls off one's tongue. I have had very few occasions to use this word and maybe that is serendipitous. ;-)

Christine said...

Heard it... didn't know it... got clarification... might read it... can't write it.

Crazed Poet said...

I have a wonderful book of old words and phrases that are just a hoot! words like Ferdoodled (means, crazy or not right in the head) come to mind.

Caroline Storer said...

I like the word "miasma" as in "a miasma of depression settled over her.." It's an old term used to explain how disease might have spread through the air -aparently. Take care. Caroline x.