As an English major, I have a slight tendency to think about words. What they mean, how they are spelled, and so on. As nice as it would be if we could graduate from high school and breathe a sigh of satisfaction that our years of homework has made our vocabulary complete, that just isn’t the case.

We tend to learn our vocabulary by exposure and familiarity. We learn words and remember them as much as we use them or hear them used around us. I have always spent a lot of time reading, and that’s how I picked up a lot of my vocab. The problem with this method of learning is that I associate some of the more unique words I know with specific occurrences. I remember them in the context of a specific work, which is fine, except for the times when my original exposure was rather idiosyncratic.

All this digression is meant to show that words can mean different things to different people or in different circumstances. In fact some words mean to many things, “stuff” for instance, gets thrown around and leant on like some sort of mental crutch when we’re too lazy to come up with another word that means “things”. This sort of verbal laziness bothers me from time to time, and today I want to think about another word that may get overused.

The word is “interesting”. (Pun intended).

Interesting, it’s what people say when something titillates them, or on the other side, when something spurs them on to deeper thought. Interesting is something that strikes at our “interests” and creates connections with things that are important to us.

Something “interesting” can take us down the path of pleasurable association. It can spark confused head-scratching or further inquiry. It can refer to a sketchy or questionable situation.

The word, it means something that catches our attention. Something has to be, well, interesting. It’s become such a staple word, which perhaps isn’t a bad thing. The world is a better place when we think things are interesting.

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