Sometimes words can suggest a story, and other times you’d just like to have a good definition. In The 3 A.M. Epiphany, Brian Kitely recommends yourdictionary.com, a portal for definition, translation and tracking of most popular words.
The popularity list can suggest some exercises. Try crafting a story using the top five words from the 2005 list:
1. Refugee: Though the word was considered politically incorrect in the US, ‘refugees’ were often considered the lucky ones in streaming away from a series of global catastrophes unmatched in recent memory.
2. Tsunami: From the Japanese tsu nami for ‘harbor wave’, few recognized the word before disaster struck on Christmas Day, 2004, but the word subsequently flooded with unprecedented (and sustained) media coverage.
3. Poppa/Papa/Pope: (Italian, Portuguese, English, many others). The death of beloved Pope John Paul II kept the words on the lips of the faithful around the world.
4. Chinglish: The new second language of China from the Chinglish formation: CHINese + EngLISH.
5. H5N1: A looming global pandemic that could dwarf the Bubonic Plague of the Middle Ages (and AIDS) boggles the comtemporary imagination.
Check out this Web site for a great series of glossaries. Yourdictionary has links to detailed glossaries of things like genetics. One favorite of mine, for Viral Times: The National Human Genome Research Institute genetic glossary, which has brief recorded explanations of its terms by scientists