Word Nerd Wednesday: It’s the Climb

This week’s word is one I think everyone can relate to at some point in their lives. Here’s my little story about it:

One beautiful Saturday morning, Sarah and her friends, Maddie and Jake, decide to go for a hike in the mountains. The trail is steep, covered in branches and bushes. Sharp rocks jut out from every angle and roots twist through the dirt. The air grows thinner as they climb, and Sarah is struggling. With every step, her muscles burn and her lungs ache. Her feet keep getting snagged on roots, and thorny branches scratch her arms. She begins to wonder if this was all a huge mistake.

After an hour, they pause for a break and Sarah sinks to the ground. Maddie sits down beside her. “This is exhausting,” she admits. “It’s not just you. It’s this hike. It’s hard on you and us.”

“Hard on you and us” = arduous (ARE-joo-wus), today’s word. Arduous means strenuous or difficult to achieve. And the imagery of a steep climb is particularly appropriate since this word comes from the Latin word arduus, meaning high or steep. It doesn’t just refer to something that’s sort of difficult, it describes a task that takes you to the point of exhaustion, something that tests your endurance.

We’ve all encountered tasks in our lives that were particularly arduous, requiring every bit of effort we can muster. And like Maddie reminds Sarah, we’re rarely alone on our arduous journeys. Even if there’s no one beside us at the time, many people have walked the same difficult path before us and many will come after us as well.

So when you find yourself strained to the point of exhaustion, not sure whether you can carry on, call the journey what it is. Arduous. And in that word you can hear the truth: we’ve all been in a place just like that and it’s hard on all of us.

Word Nerd Wednesday: Congrats, Emile!

Welcome back to Word Nerd Wednesday, where I geek out over words and tell you quirky stories to help remember them. Today’s word is one of my favorites, so let’s get right to the story.

Emile Stewart is seven years old. On his eighth birthday, he’ll get a fancy new bike. But his birthday feels ages away and all his friends are riding around the neighborhood on their bikes while he watches. It’s like torture. And then, one day, his parents wake him up and tell him, “Emile, you’re eight!” And with those words, all his waiting and frustration is over! Those magic words make everything better. “Emile, you’re eight” = ameliorate (uh-MEEL-yor-ate), which means to improve or make more tolerable.

Why do I like this word? For one thing, it’s a positive word. It’s focused on making things better. But mostly, because it rolls right off the tongue, basically does a somersault in your mouth. No, seriously. Try it out. It starts in the middle, to the front with the M, rolling to the back all the way up to through R, then it returns to the front to end on the T. I guess you could say it rolls like the wheel of a bike. 😉

So there you have it. Ameliorate. Why not give it a spin this week?