Aug 5, 2017 | No-Niche Posts

There are people I love, and things that I value, but why would I talk about “a treasure I have”? Today’s prompt conjures images of Gollum – “my treasure, my preciousssssss…” – images of bragging in some seedy pub and begging for pirates to show up with shovels to dig holes in my lawn.

But one treasure that is sometimes hidden, sometimes buried, and impossible to steal is my imagination and love of wordplay. Did you know that the word “thesaurus” comes from Latin and Greek words meaning a treasury of words?

thesaurus (n.) Look up thesaurus at Dictionary.com1823, “treasury, storehouse,” from Latin thesaurus “treasury, a hoard, a treasure, something laid up,” figuratively “repository, collection,” from Greek thesauros “a treasure, treasury, storehouse, chest,” related to tithenai “to put, to place,” from reduplicated form of PIE root *dhe- “to set, put.” The meaning “encyclopedia filled with information” is from 1840, but existed earlier as thesaurarie (1590s), used as a title by early dictionary compilers, on the notion of thesaurus verborum “a treasury of words.” Meaning “collection of words arranged according to sense” is first attested 1852 in Roget’s title. Thesaurer is attested in Middle English for “treasurer” and thesaur “treasure” was in use 15c.-16c.

“Thesaurus.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Accessed July 7, 2017.

My parents would never just give me a straight answer to questions like, “What does eleemosynary mean?” or “How do you spell broccoli?” They would point to the unabridged dictionary on its stand, saying, “We never guess; we look it up.” For a brief time, that threatened to squelch my curiosity, not encourage it. But in the end, that treasure trove of tempting words beckoned, and I, grudgingly curious, trundled across the room to look it up. Not only did I acquire a head full of words, I learned to do my own research – digging into the treasury before my parents could point and send me there. A new dictionary rests, open, on that stand today. And my kids know how to use it, before I have a chance to say, “We never guess, we look it up.”

That’s a treasure that lasts.

I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words #6. Want to read more bloggers’ #WTFOW posts? Click here. If you enjoy our posts, please share them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your other favorite social media sites, using the hashtags #writetribe #writebravely #festivalofwords. And comment! Don’t forget to comment! We love to hear from you.

Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard; A Puppy, Not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw; and the newest release: A New Leaf for Lyle, illustrated by Carrie Salazar. She draws inspiration from her family, from her own childhood adventures (some of which only happened in her overactive imagination), and from readers both young and young-at-heart. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, J.J., whose love and encouragement make writing books twice the fun.


  1. Pete laberge

    Good luck in the festival…!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    You see, your parents did you a favour by doing that.
    Because all that early “word reading”….
    Helped you teach yourself to write.

    • HollyJahangiri

      Oh, yes – my parents did a great job of instilling an early love of learning in me. Thank you, Pete.

  2. Team MocktailMommies

    Dictionary.. a treasure worth digging into… time and again, only to come out more wise and content!
    Loved the post!
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies

    • HollyJahangiri

      Now I have a whole head full of treasures, too! Thank you for visiting!

  3. Modern Gypsy

    Ah yes – the dictionary is a treasure trove of new words – and a thesaurus is an invaluable tool for writers. I have a couple on my bookshelf that I refer to often!

    • HollyJahangiri

      I see I’m not the only one to think of words and knowledge as a treasure. Thanks!

  4. Sheethalsusan

    That’s a different take on the prompt. No-one can get hold of your imagination and your knowledge for words. Surely there are treasures.

  5. Bhavya

    That is such an important treasure your parents handed you. Nothing can replace knowledge.

    • HollyJahangiri

      So true! And it’s hard to steal, but good to give away.

  6. Shilpa Garg

    Wow! I absolutely love your parents’ approach of instilling a wonderful habit in you.
    “We never guess; we look it up.”… this is something that I am going to use it too 😀
    Thanks for sharing, Holly 🙂

    • HollyJahangiri

      LOL!! My dad will be pleased to learn it’s made it around the world!

  7. Alana

    You are giving your children a treasure more valuable than any amount of money. One day, they will realize that.

    • HollyJahangiri

      Oh, I think they already do. Now, whether they’ll ADMIT it or not… 🙂

  8. Bellybytes

    I looked out for your post yesterday and am glad I managed to find it before it got too late. Oh I love the dictionary too and feel quite bad to see it lying on my book shelf ( although well thumbed) when I look up words on the internet instead…..I completely agree with you about how precious it is….

  9. Prisha Lalwani

    All the best for the festival! My parents did the opposite with me. They gave me ‘approximate’ or ‘estimted’ meanings of words and that bothered me. That’s where my love for the dictionary came into being. Indeed, one’s imagination is a great treasure.

    • HollyJahangiri

      The older I get, the more I think that kind of innate curiosity is rare, even in children. I wish it weren’t so, but I’m glad you were gifted with it!


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