A Ringing Word-wise Wordplay
In these hectic days leading into various religious Holidays and a promising New Year, we ask ourselves, what is truly important in life? Or do we?
We are often so caught up in day-to-day survival and the hustle and bustle of the Holiday activities that we tend to overlook ourselves, and if we’re actually happy. Perhaps it’s time to take a quiet moment and ask yourself that question.
In the whole scheme of the Universe and your life, it is imperative that you know …
*IMPERATIVE (im perʹɘ tiv) adj. – 1 having the nature of, or indicating, power or authority; commanding [an imperative gesture]; 2 absolutely necessary, urgent, compelling [it is imperative that I go] … [WW #91]
A few days before Christmas, what is important this week?
In my first thoughts of the day, as I recalled Christmases past, family and friends, I wrote that it was imperative to spend quality time with them; not just this week, but throughout the year. Life is short, unpredictable, and extremely fragile.
I looked at what I wrote and questioned the correct definition of imperative. Did it display the right emotion for what I sought to convey?
To be honest, I did not look first this time, to my trusty hardbound dictionary. Too lazy to pick it up, I right-clicked my mouse for Microsoft’s mostly-correct-but-sometimes-a little-off synonyms. The meaning I’d meant hit the bottom of the list—was this not a preferred definition? Hmmmm.
Although I could be wrong (don’t tell anyone I said that) I pursued confirmation that imperative carried the heavy weight of importance. Nope—Microsoft says:
Really?! Vital, the synonym that came closest to what I had in mind, dragged at the bottom of the list.
Heading online to my go-to dictionary site I found:
“Definition of imperative
- 1 a : of, relating to, or constituting the grammatical mood that expresses the will to influence the behavior of another b : expressive of a command, entreaty, or exhortation c : having power to restrain, control, and direct
- 2 : not to be avoided or evaded : necessary <an imperative duty>”
Again, the most applicable definition for this word, as the majority of us use it, brought up the rear. Yet, when seeking the synonym of important, we do find imperative in Microsoft’s robo-synonyms at the lofty third position (of eight). Go figure.
*That’s when I belatedly picked up the three-pound, seventeen-hundred-page tome next to my desk. Finally the 21st century printed dinosaur validated imperative’s elusive synonym for vitally important, as you see it above, albeit, relegated to second place.
The moral of this Christmas story, is don’t take the “word” of only your digital devices when it comes to writing—especially for publication. Know what you’re saying, mean what you say—especially when you speak to those who matter most to you.
And with that … back to my original morning thought … it is imperative during this busy season while giving to and doing for others, to ask yourself who and what makes you happy? Such a simple question, right? If it is, then you aren’t asking it in all sincerity.
Word Challenge: IMPERATIVE. “Write first for yourself. Only then can you write for others.” (1998, L. Rochelle). That applies to your happiness, as well. Go ahead … fit imperative into your week of meaningful Holiday writings.
* Sometimes it’s in your best interest while writing, to “let your fingers do the walking,” and consult the good ol’ hardbound dictionary. (The archaic but still iconic promo has lost its relevance for the Yellow Pages, but works good here.)
Just a reminder: All of the official definitions presented in Wordplay Wednesday are accurately quoted from a current, printed edition of the Webster’s New World College Dictionary / The Official Dictionary of The Associated Press Stylebook.
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