Word of the Week: Curmudgeon

Word: curmudgeon

Pronunciation: kər-MƏ-jən

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: a bad-tempered or surly person

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Here’s another word I learned from studying vocabulary flashcards. We all know someone who tends to be a little grumpier than the rest, oftentimes an older person who has experienced more than their fair share of misfortune in life. Sometimes it’s a family member, sometimes it’s an acquaintance or a stranger, but whatever the case, we’ve all probably had to deal with at least one “curmudgeon” before!

A “curmudgeon” is someone who is unfriendly and/or bad-tempered, usually a person of old age. Interestingly, the origin of the word is unknown, though a few folk etymologies for it exist. All that’s known about the word is that it dates back to the late 16th century (originally spelled “curmudgen”) and has gone through various spellings throughout the 17th century, such as “cormogeon”, “cormudgeon”, and “curmudgin”.

While I don’t encounter the word “curmudgeon” very often, I have seen it used at least once to describe a person who was grumpy and bitter on the surface but lovable deep down. Therefore, I would recommend using “curmudgeon” for someone who may seem difficult at first but who isn’t necessarily a bad person once you get to know them. If you tend to write grumpy or surly characters, especially older ones, you may find the word “curmudgeon” useful for your stories! Good luck!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

A Sonnet of Thanksgiving

I’m thankful for my loving family,
Whose guidance always helped me find my way.
Their patience and support have nurtured me
Into the person I’ve become today.

I’m thankful for the man I call my love,
Who fills my days with laughter and with bliss.
With him, I find a love sent from above
In every warm embrace and tender kiss.

I’m thankful for the stories I have read
That sparked my passion for the written word.
Into the world of books I’ve often fled,
And now at last my writer’s voice is heard.

To those I love, thank you for everything.
God bless you all, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my family, friends, and readers! May you all have a blessed weekend!

Listening to the Voices in Your Head: Inner Writer vs. Inner Critic

Done with that NaNoWriMo novel yet? If so, congratulations! If not, don’t sweat it: you still have five more days to reach that 50,000-word milestone. We’re now in the final stretch of NaNoWriMo, which means it’s crunch time for hundreds of participating writers still striving for that winner’s badge. And at this critical stage in the event, I figure now is the perfect time to discuss those voices in every writer’s head: the inner writer and the inner critic.

You probably hear these voices in your mind whenever you write (my voices are so active that I once wrote a poem about them!), but if you’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo, they must have been in overdrive this past month. Knowing when to listen to which voice is a skill that every writer needs to master in order to turn out a decent work, but it can be difficult if they’re both constantly trying to talk at the same time. The truth is that these voices are equally important, so how do you achieve that perfect balance between them?

When to Listen to the Writer

Writing - Once upon a timeThe writer is the wide-eyed idealist in you. It’s the innocent unbridled spirit that just wants to tell stories without the slightest regard for form and style. Imagine it as the starry-eyed child you once were still living on in your heart and fueling your art. In a nutshell, the writer is pure creativity.

Listen to the writer for ideas and motivation. If there’s a story inside you waiting to be told, let the writer set it free and start it off on its journey to the outside world. Don’t worry so much about the technical aspects of it just yet; the important thing is to get the story out of your system first, before the doubts begin to creep in and slow or halt your progress. When your energy to write begins to waver, the passion and emotion of the writer will motivate you to keep going until your story is complete. The writer’s voice is there to cheer you on and remind you that if you have a story consuming your thoughts, then chances are it’s worth writing.

When to Listen to the Critic

Critic - Red PenThe critic is your inner skeptic. The polar opposite of the writer, the critic serves as the editor’s voice that balances out the idealistic and ingenuous artist. While the writer is fueled by creativity and emotion, the critic is driven by technical perfection, and if the writer represents the impulsive inner child, the critic represents the levelheaded outer adult who keeps him/her in check.

The best time to listen to the critic is after your first draft is complete. Once the core story is written, you don’t have to worry so much about the critic’s voice holding you back and instead can start letting it push you forward. The purpose of the critic is to find the flaws in your work and figure out how to fix them, whether they’re as simple as grammatical errors or as complex as plot structure. It’s only too easy to resent this voice for all its negative feedback, but if you keep in mind that such comments are nothing personal and simply meant to help you make your work as presentable to the public as possible, you can turn your inner critic from your worst enemy into one of your strongest allies.

The Perfect Balance

Despite all the conflict between them, it’s important to remember that both the inner writer and the inner critic are essential to a writer’s success. The trick to finding the perfect balance between them is to let them complement each other: the writer will drown out the insecurities of the critic, and the critic will polish the rough groundwork of the writer. Learn to listen to both voices equally, and they’ll help you create your greatest works of art! Good luck!

Do you struggle with the voices in your head? Which one do you hear most often: the writer or the critic?

Word of the Week: Belligerent

Word: belligerent

Pronunciation: bə-LI-jə-rənt

Part of Speech: adjective


  1. hostile and aggressive
  2. engaged in a war or conflict, as recognized by international law

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Today’s vocabulary word is one that tends to come up frequently in politics. I’ve heard it quite a few times in presidential debates, namely when the candidates are discussing the issue of war. Whether they’re calling each other out or referring to the nation as a whole, politicians like to go for the word “belligerent” when describing a person or country as being generally in favor of war. When a debate turns to foreign policy, you can usually expect this word to pop up at least once; after all, aggressive figures are a common sight in the political scene!

A “belligerent” person is someone who’s aggressive and hostile. “Belligerent” can also refer to a person or nation engaged in a conflict or war recognized by international law. The word arose in the late 16th century and comes from the Latin adjective belliger, meaning “waging war”. This adjective stems from the verb belligerare “to wage war”, which in turn comes from the noun bellum “war”.

I confess that the first time I read the word “belligerent”, I must have thought it had something to do with beauty, as it calls to mind the word “belle”. I never would have imagined that the Latin root of a word as ugly as “war” could sound so lovely. Interestingly, “belligerent” can also be used as a noun, as in “a nation or person engaged in war or conflict, as recognized by international law”. If you write aggressive characters who tend to favor war over peace, “belligerent” is a great word to keep on your shortlist!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

Nous Sommes Unis

Hear the silence in the streets,
Feel the sorrow in the air
In the chilling aftermath
Of the night of terror
That left the world in shock.

See the world shine bright
In blue, white and red.
Let them know we are united
As we support our allies
In this tragic time for humanity.

France, we stand with you now
In this solemn hour.
Against hate and violence,
In the name of love and peace,
Nous sommes unis.

Wrote this poem shortly after the attacks in Paris on November 13. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims of the tragedy. May love always triumph over hate. We stand with you, France. #NousSommesUnis

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