It’s been a while since I featured a Word of the Week here on my humble website/blog. It’s been a busy, harrowing month… and I console myself that I’m pretty sure I mentioned at the start of these posts that I wouldn’t be trolling dictionaries once a week in an effort to find some weird and wonderful word that no one’s EVAH heard of, just to impress y’all. Nyuh uh. That’s not the point of these (hopefully) fun little posts.
Nope. The point of WotW is to share some strange and wonderful word that jumped out and smacked me upside the head during the course of me reading my usual reading material — in other words, mostly romance of various genres, loads of YA, industry mags and publications, occasionally The Economist (obituaries, books and arts, and science and technology sections–don’t ask me why those sections are my go-to sections *g*), and even more occasionally, a gossip mag while I’m sitting in a waiting room somewhere and the battery’s running low on my iPhone so I can’t read an eBook.
Right. Now we’ve cleared that up, it’s on to my Word of the Week.
So, to give you some context, I was reading a historical romance and came across this:
[…]with one smooth flexion of his powerful body he joined them.
And I’m, like, huh? Flexion? And I gotta tell you, it pulled me right from the love scene, where they were about to, ah, “join”, shall we say. And instead of reading on and getting all excited over the, ah, “joining”, instead I’m searching for paper and pen to jot down this word — and even going so far as to grab my iPhone and look it up on my dictionary app.
It’s not that I can’t guess what it means from the context — of course I can! *g* But the word was just unusual enough to drag me from the story and start thinking about the possibility of using it for this post.
A shame, really. Perhaps another word choice would have had me reading on and remaining immersed in the story? Perhaps “flexion” is a common word that everyone uses on a daily basis and I’m just plain ignorant? Perhaps I’m just weird? Yeah. That could be it, LOL.
Anyway, it got me thinking about my editor, Judith, who used to often pull me up on this sort of word-choice. Sure it might be a totally cool awesome word, and sure it might sound really good in your head, and sure it might add just the perfect rhythm and flow to your carefully crafted sentence, but it’s not a commonly recognized word. Do you really want your readers scrambling for a dictionary?
Excellent point, Maree is forced to concede… as she deletes “He blenched” from her manuscript and substitutes “He shrank back”. *VBG*
So what is the dictionary definition of “flexion”?
Well, I can tell you this: it flags with that evil, squiggly red, no-such-word underline in spell-check. But never fear, I found a definition that makes perfect sense in the context of the phrase I quoted:
FLEXION: noun — Act of bending a joint, deviation from a straight or normal course, the state of being flexed (as of a joint).
Mmmm. A hero with flexible, er, hips. Nice!
But I also found this definition in my Concise Oxford Dictionary:
FLEXION: noun — Bending, curvature, bent state
And I gotta tell you: That last definition? Not so good in the context of a love scene, where everything about the hero is supposed to be, ah, hard. Now, all I can think of after reading that definition, is a hunching hero humping the heroine. (Do I get extra points for all the alliteration in the last part of that sentence???)
Mmmm. I’m sure Judith would have called me on that word if I’d dared use it. Of course, we’re talking my warped thinking processes, here. You, dear readers of this blog post, may well have read on!