We celebrate National Word Nerd Day on January 9 by enthusing about our favorite words and the importance of language in our culture. Whether you always know what to say, or you often end up with your foot in your mouth, words are essential to our success and progress. National Word Nerd Day gives us the chance to learn some new words, use some old ones, and maybe even borrow them from someone else! We’ve got some wordy ways to spend your day and verbose views on how to celebrate this National Word Nerd Day!
History of National Word Nerd Day
Humans have communicated since we first walked on Earth, though our early language was nowhere near as complex as the systems of words we use today. Once, our basic vocabulary range was no different from that of great apes, but as we advanced, so did our language.
With developments in our lifestyle, we needed to be able to name things, communicate ideas, and express ourselves to aid our advancement. Words and language became increasingly important, yet it took many centuries until they were considered important enough to document.
During the medieval period, the written word was considered a luxury, with only the rich or the anointed able to read and write in a sophisticated way. As such, the majority was only able to enjoy words through oral storytelling. Shakespeare and other great wordsmiths used their love of words to delight audiences in the theatres, even inventing words for use in their work.
But by the mid-18th century, reading and writing were more widely taught and accessible to a greater range of people. As a result, it became necessary to produce a comprehensive list of words and their meanings in the English language, a task embarked upon by Dr. Samuel Johnson, who was paid the sum of 1,500 guineas (approximately $325,000 in today’s money) for its completion. After seven years of toil, his dictionary was published in 1755 and is still widely regarded as one of the most influential texts of the English language.
Today, we celebrate National Word Nerd Day to mark the importance of words in our history and civilization, giving us an excuse to geek out on our favorites!
National Word Nerd Day timeline
Humans develop a more complex system of communication, using a primitive form of the language we use today.
Having invented and introduced over 1,700 words into the English language, William Shakespeare dies.
Samuel Johnson’s dictionary is published, after single-handedly working on it for seven years.
Dissatisfied with the existing English dictionaries, a group of word nerds gets together to produce the first OED.
National Word Nerd Day FAQs
Can I celebrate if I’m not a word nerd?
Everyone can be a word nerd — all you need is an interest in words. Do some research on your favorite words and see where it leads you!
Why do we use words?
We use words to express ourselves, sometimes clearly, and sometimes unclearly. How you use them is up to you.
Are any words banned?
Freedom of speech means there are no ‘banned’ words in the USA, but context is important, and if you use words to intimidate or attack, you may get into trouble. Make sure you understand a word and its context before you use it.
National Word Nerd Day Activities
Use a new word
Open a dictionary and find a word you’ve never used before. See if you can use it in a sentence before the end of the day.
Make up a new word
Is there something that you just can’t describe with the words currently available? Invent your own word and maybe you’ll see it in the dictionary before long!
Learn your favorite word in other languages
Impress your amigos by translating some of your favorite words and phrases into other tongues. They’ll think it’s ‘fantastique’!
5 Facts About The English Language To Geek Out Over
It’s shortest sentence is one of the most common
The shortest possible complete sentence in the English language is simply ‘I am.’ Small but powerful, we use this all the time without even realizing its significance.
It grows every 2 hours
On average, a new word is added to the English dictionary every two hours, with nearly 4,000 words added every year.
The shortest word is the oldest and most frequent
The first-ever words were those used to describe ourselves, so it should come as no surprise that ‘I’ is one of the oldest words and it is used most frequently in conversation.
Some words are the same when read backward
A palindrome is a word that is the same when read either backward or forward. Frequently used palindromes include ‘racecar’, ‘kayak’, and even phrases like ‘never odd or even’.
A pangram sentence uses every letter
You likely encountered pangram sentences when practicing your handwriting, as they use every letter of the English language. ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’ and ‘The five boxing wizards jump quickly,’ are just a few examples.
Why We Love National Word Nerd Day
Words are winning
The more words you know, the more effectively you can communicate with everyone you encounter, putting you on the road to success.
Words are wise
When you’re not able to be together, words bridge the gap, bringing comfort, hope, and inspiration.
Words make the world work
Things would be a lot harder without a means of communication! Words and their meanings allow us to function as a civilization, so we have a lot to thank them for.
National Word Nerd Day dates