Friday, January 14, 2011

Vaguely Defined

Vocabulary is important.  It's important for children to learn the correct meanings of words so that they can articulate those words in sentences properly. 

When the weeks vocabulary words come home with loose definitions provided by the school,  my mom gets irritated. 

"Don't these kids use a dictionary at school?"  She asks shaking her head.

"Amaya what does crossly mean?"  My mom quizzes her.

"To look angrily at something,"  she answers.

"What does elegant mean?" 

"To mark with good taste,"  she answers.

"What does godmother mean?" 

"Someone who acts like a mother,"  she answers.

"Wrong!"  my mom tells her.  "Nikki, do you ever read the definitions she brings home?"  she calls out from my kitchen.

"Well that's what our teacher told us to write Grandma,"  Amaya defends herself.

I grab the dictionary.  Before jumping to conclusions, we look up the words to see if by some chance the definitions are correct.  But mainly to prove that we were.

cross•ly: adv. in a cross or angry manner.
el·e·gant: adj. 1. Marked by elegance 2. A high grade of quality
god·moth·er: noun a woman who sponsors a person at a baptism

Our assumptions turn out to be correct.  The vocabulary words are vaguely defined.  Except the word godmother.  There's only one definition.  It makes me wonder if the definition was changed because of it's religious nature.



  1. I think this should be a homework assignment, the students can look up the words in a dictionary at home. The parents could check to make sure the definitions were written down. This way they do learn to use a dictionary and get the proper definitions . Or if the teachers prefer to put the definitions on the board and have the students copy them, they should be as you defined them above, not loosely defined.

  2. Softening a definition is done more and more. Especially when the definition makes someone uncomfortable. It's sad.

  3. godmother...not to be confused with my teenager yelling, "god...mother!"

  4. I think you're right on. Schools will stop at nothing to ensure that religion is removed from everything. Sad but true. And I agree that the kids should be looking up their own definitions. BTW, I laugh every time I see your blog's title. Tis so true in this day and time. Thanks for this post.