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This word caught my eye and I know it’s meaning — well one anyway. I like words, and this one with “pan” at the beginning immediately gives a clue that it is “all”. What I didn’t know was that the second part of the work comes from “hopla” meaning armor. The word originally comes from Greek (1500’s) via French. So I guess the French get as many words from Greek and Latin as English does.

suitofarmorSo very specifically, it refers to a complete suit of armor, or full ceremonial dress Of course, probably since armor isn’t as common these days, it is taken to mean a fully array — the whole nine yards. And that’s how I commonly use it.

The study of words fascinates me, and as a teacher of fourth graders some years ago, I tried to communicate to students that many words can be figured out if you have some good root words at your disposal.

For one unit in spelling we did just that. For instance we took “trans” (change or cross basically) and we tried to think of as many words that use it. Transportation, transpire, transition, translate, transcend, transit, transfer, transform, transcribe, etc. (We didn’t get into transgender, or transubstantiate.) I explained that with a little Latin background, making sense of these words is even easier (and I suggested Latin in high school). Portare is to carry. Scribe, write. Situ, allow, permit, or place. Etc. It was an interesting way of learning a spelling list — even though we had others lists related to books we were class reading.

Kids need this ability to decode words. And a few clues about how they can do it helps them extend their vocabulary and reading ability. How many words do you read, that you kind of figure out, but would be hard-pressed to define? I do and occasionally I’ll look them up — and I’m usually close, arent’ you?

I subscribe to http://wordsmith.org, a site devised by Anu Garg (www.wsmith@wordsmith.org). The way he sets up a week of words is kind of by category. For instance, last week he presented words that are all onomatopoeia — words that come from the sound they make: gnar, cackle, susurrate, blubber, and chunter. What a great idea for teaching!

I also came upon a link today (I frequently use a thesaurus myself) that includes 200 alternatives for “good”. Could be good used at home to challenge your kids to think of an alternative for good, for instance, “That was a good meal, Mom.” What else could you say? I could get to be fun!

Lots of words out there; it’s always fun to challenge people with new ones.