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20,000 Words

My sister gave me a book with this title. And I thought my vocabulary was already quite good, until I opened to the first page and found that I had never heard of the word, “abaft.” It is the second entry on the first page, right after abacus, which I suppose I could use to count how many words I’ve never seen are in this book!

The next one is abattoir, then abbe’, with that accented “e” at the end. Lest we fall behind, abaft means to the rear of specifically : toward the stern from so if you are moving away from the aft of a ship you are going abaft.

Definition of abattoir

a place where animals are butchered

Definition of abbé

a member of the French secular clergy in major or minor orders —used as a title

So, yes, there may be little use for these new words in everyday conversation, but that is not the point. What I’m saying is that I didn’t expect to find many words in this little book that I didn’t already know. And now I’m wondering just how much I don’t know. That stinks!

I am usually clear about how the more I know the more I understand how much I don’t know. But I was not expecting to have to take that lesson again from this little book. Full disclosure, it had belonged to my mother, and was left to my oldest sister, and now I have it. I have this book, along with a 2nd edition of “China Flight” by Pearl S. Buck.

I’ll write more about this later. And I’m going to catalog every formerly unknown word in this little lexicon. Another labor of love this will be.