Writers Workshop – Dictionary

Today I attended a Writers Workshop. The instructions were to chose a word from the dictionary and to write a piece around this word, fiction or non-fiction.

This is mine.



1: joking or jesting often inappropriately : waggish
2: meant to be humorous or funny : not serious

“Don’t be facetious”

I was perhaps seven years old when I first heard my Granddad use this word. Facetious. I rolled the unfamiliar word around my tongue.

“What does that mean Granddad?”, I asked.

“It means that you should not make fun of me, or make silly remarks”, he replied.

Granddad had an amusing hobby. He read the dictionary. Every day he would learn a new word from the dictionary and often he would teach us, his grandchildren, these words. A keen crossword solver, Granddad’s vocabulary was impressive, particularly for a man who had worked as a bricklayer all of his life.

He would use the words that he learned when we visited and it became a game to work out which words he had learned that week. We listened closely to his conversation with my mother, as he clumsily steered the conversation in order to use the word.

“So… Have you been to the swimming pool recently? What pool do you go to? Ah, to Dundee pool. Tell me, do they have a Jacuzzi there?

used for a whirlpool bath and a recreational bathing tub or pool

His well-thumbed dictionary rested beside his chair, ready to be consulted if a word was unknown. When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I discovered Roget’s Thesaurus. It opened a world of synonyms to me. I would lie on my bed, flicking through the thesaurus, understanding why my Granddad loved his dictionary.

We bought Granddad a thesaurus for his Christmas, and the dictionary shuffled along to make space on the little coffee table.

I would sit beside him, smelling the Brylcream that he always used in his hair, the whisky from the “wee dram” that he would have when we took him to the pub after lunch. A half pint and a whisky.

Some years after Granddad died, I sat on a bus behind an elderly man, furtively inhaling that familiar scent, wishing I had a dictionary to soothe my fingers.


  • Little Me

    my grandfather was the same with the Brylcream and the rather large whisky he had every day. Your post has reminded me how much I miss him, even though he died 16 years ago, and how awful it must still be for my granny who really doesn’t still want to be around without him. In fact I’m going to call her tomorrow.

    I didn’t get word lessons from my grandfather. He taught me and my sisters all there was to know about how the stock exchange works. And managed to make it interesting.

    He was also a history freak, and although I wasn’t interested when he was alive, it has since become a real passion of mine, and I really regret not listening more to his stories

    I’m all tearful now. Thanks (and I do mean it, as I hardly ever think of how he was when he was alive).

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