Yesterday I decided to look up the word “laboured”. The adjective … as in ‘laboured breathing’. I don’t know why — perhaps because I felt my own breathing was laboured — I often do that, look up words even though I know what they mean.
By default I use an app on my iPhone — tyda.se — because in 99% of the cases, it’s really good, it’s convenient and it’s … “alive”. Alive, meaning that it’s constantly being updated by bilingual English/Swedish people. The reason I want to look them up in Swedish, is, at least I, feel oftentimes I get the full gist of the word when I see it explained in my native tongue.
This particular time, it was one of the remaining per cents — my word wasn’t even there, at least not as an adjective, so I went to Merriam-Webster. That wasn’t good either, so it was Oxford that gave me what I was after.
I told all this to Gerry, we talked about the word a little, and as I was holding the phone, he asked me to look up an unrelated word; “belaboured”. I’d never heard it before, so I read about it … didn’t think more about it than I’d learnt a new word.
Two hours later, I was reading in a forum about fountain pens … and what do you know, the word “belaboured” appeared before me. This could be a pure coincidence, but it happens almost every time we’ve had one of these ‘talks’ about a word. Last time, I forget which word it was, it appeared twice in the book I was reading at night!
This could of course be that I’ve seen the words before, but as I didn’t know them, I skipped them … didn’t pay attention. I sometimes do that while reading at night, unless I notice they’re really important for the context. Other times, if I remember them, I look them up the following morning.