Zia Hassan

Using The Dictionary Strategically

I once saw a piece of advice for writers and poets to look up words in the dictionary that you already know the meaning of (or at least, you think you do).

Doing so can reveal some amazing new qualities of the word, especially when the words are related to things you do in your daily life.

For instance, I recently looked up the word technology, which I would’ve previously described as “computer-y type stuff.” It turns out the definition (from Webster’s) is much wider: practical uses of scientific discoveries.

That’s beautiful: not only does the word technology then cover almost everything from the use of fire to cook, to the wheel, to the human language and beyond… but the dictionary also revealed that the greek roots of the word roughly translate to “the science of craft.”

How breathtaking. Technology is then a confluence of art and science, a fusion of two disciplines that are often talked about as silos.

And all of this, just from looking up a word that I use on a regular basis.