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.