Let’s Chat: Unfamiliar Words


We’ve all been there.

You’re reading a book, totally sucked into the plot, and BAM…a word shows up and you have absolutely no clue what it means.  Completely unfamiliar in every single way.

In my previous life, I was as an elementary school teacher for 14 years.   I always taught my students to use context clues to “debug” those tricky words.  Look at the other words in the sentence.  What would make sense?  Look that the pictures.  What is the author trying to tell us here?  Can you continue reading without knowing that one word?  Will that one word make a difference in the author’s message?  These are the same strategies that I now teach my own daughter.

And yet as an adult…I do absolutely none of those things.  Zero.  I only have one thing I do when I come across an unfamiliar word while reading:

I Google it.

Every.  Single.  Time.

I truly cannot read a book without my phone next to me for this exact reason.  I simply can’t let it go…I MUST know the definition of every single word as I read! Even if I am able to figure it out by using context clues, I always look it up just to be sure.

I have this fear that I will miss an important piece of the story and/or character by not knowing every single word.

Am I alone?  Does anyone else do this? Is this just another trait of my type A personality?

What do you do when you come across an unfamiliar word while reading?  I’d love to hear your responses in the comments below!



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4 thoughts on “Let’s Chat: Unfamiliar Words

  1. I love this post because it reminds me of a (maybe) funny story. I have always been interested in true crime, even as a child. I always wanted to be a criminal psychologist or work in a prison, but became a social worker instead. Close enough. My parents never censored anything I read and encouraged me to ask questions if I did not understand something. So imagine my mom’s delight when 12 year old me approached her to ask her about 2 words in a true crime book I was reading – they were “bestiality” and “sodomy.” She directed me to the dictionary and I just remember thinking, “Ewww, gross.” Anyhow, as an adult, if I do not understand a word, I google too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always look up words. It is easier on the Kindle because I just tap the word and the definition pops up. I sometimes use the function just to look up a pronunciation of a word. It drives me crazy to read a word and let it go without knowing the meaning.


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