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 — — 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.


17 Replies to “belabour”

  1. Yes, they say when you are pregnant you see pregnant women all around.

    It’s just random coincidence. Either that or God moves pregnant people around so they see each other 🙂

  2. I use the Oxford Dictionary – as a British English user it’s probably the natural choice – and I use it daily. Mostly to look up pronunciation. Most of my vocabulary was gained through reading, so I have no clue how to pronounce things.

    My phone autocorrect taught me a new word these days – abed. I have no idea how it came up with it. I surely never typed abed before and I went to check the dictionary to see if that was even a real world. Well, it is. An archaic one.

    I’m also discovering these days the pronunciation of different words with “face” in them – interface versus preface, for example. I tend to pronounce them all the same, with “feis”. But nope. So now I’m trying to remember which is which and where the accent is in each of them.

      1. I perversely use the Oxford Dictionary even for American English. I use the online version, where you can choose between British/World and American.

        1. I’ve been using the online version too, but now I downloaded some half-assed app. They want $27 for the full version, which is a bit over the edge, considering Webster’s is free.

          1. I know, right! I accidentally downloaded the same (or similar) app and was shocked to discover they want me to pay for the words. WTF. That much to free and universal education.

    1. Hey Mara and Bekah! Thanks, this was a great reminder on process… Ever since I was a kid just learning to read, whenever I came across an unfamiliar word; I would pull it apart, syllable by syllable and try different pronunciations of all the different possible letter combinations and putting the stress on each one of the parts in turn… Now I certainly didn’t get it right every time (and I’ve laughed at myself lots of times over the years when I finally did hear the correct pronunciation of a word; ) BUT, more often than not, whichever one seemed to flow most easily off the tongue was usually the correct choice.
      And some – like Worcestershire – you just have to learn by hearing from others; )
      Bekah, for some reason this post did not show up on WordPress and the last post I see is about The BBC… Hoping all is well and it’s just a glitch at my end…

      1. Deb; my personal, most hilarious example of what you talk about is the word “epitome”. I think I wrote about it here some time ago.

        I don’t know about the WordPress feed …

          1. Yes. The thing was, I used the word frequently, with the correct pronunciation … the thing was I’d never seen it written. OR … I had seen it written, but skipped it because I didn’t know what EPI-tome was LOL

      2. Thank you for sharing your learning story – mine is so similar! – and thank you for making me Google the pronunciation of Worcestershire. It was a shocking discovery 😉

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