‘Mum – what does enigma mean?’
‘Look it up. The dictionaries are in the bookcase. Remember to…’
‘I know, I know. Read the word above and the word below. Learn three words instead of one.’
Mum had a love of words. She would read the dictionary. And this passed to us kids. She had a double volume dictionary – A to K and L to Z. Huge books with thousands of words. I remember wanting to learn every word. And to say every word out loud every day. I often read the dictionary too.
We often would hold the dictionary and let it fall open to a page, and with our eyes closed, we would point to a word on the page. This word would describe ourselves or each other – depending on who we chose. More often that not, the result was apt.
Or we would use the dictionary to prove a word existed when playing Scrabble. More often than not, proof was not found.
But mainly, the dictionary was used to learn new words – always three instead of one.