Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How do you find a Word?

I'm wondering if there are better techniques or resources for finding new interesting useful words than the techniques I'm currently using. My current technique is to just happen upon a good word - either in print/web/conversation. I have to admit, however, that few happen in conversation, fewer still in print such as news (typically a 5th or 6th grade reading level) - most new words are sourced via books and web articles. How do you look up a word that means, what you want it to mean - yet you don't know the meaning of? The inversion of the Humpty Dumpty quip in Through the Looking Glass.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master — that's all."

The web has a few unDictionaries (reverse dictionary) - haven't found a useful non-trivial one.

How do you find just the right word - a $1.50 word (with inflation - maybe a $1375 word)?

I'm looking for word - phrase for the concept: Using discreet physical objects to represent thoughts and concepts (modeling) that have many "affordances" (Don Norman's "The Design of Everyday Things" concept) as a way to build a shared distributed cognitive mental model. A model that can be manipulated in real time, instantly perceived by a group of people, and the affordances of the model, be predicted or inferred within the context of the model.

Could you help me make up such a word? It would be very helpful in my line of work. Maybe it should have a "kinesis" syllable in it. I suppose I could borrow from Bucky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synergetics_(Fuller) ); Synergetic-modeling - or something like that.
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