THE LIFELY GROUP NEWSLETTER
Sign up to receive occasional updates.
The Lifely Glossary
About This Glossary
Because communication is one of the essential fundamentals of Life for all types of living organisms and Life as a whole, and because humans tend to communicate using words, we have included this Glossary to be very clear about our communication on the subject of Life.
A glossary is a list of words with their definitions, especially words not in general use or specific to an art or science. The word originally referred to “a collection of glosses,” glosses being explanations of words written in the margin or between the lines of a text >offering commentary and explanation.
It is a work in progress so you may find some words have only definitions and others have a lot of commentary.
Why We Created This Glossary
I, Debra, created this Glossary for me as much as for you, for a couple of reasons.
First, I wanted to make sure I was using the correct words and using them correctly and then present the definitions to you so you could better understand what I am intending to say.
But more importantly, even, the subject of The Lifely Group requires specialized vocabulary. We are discussing concepts that are not commonly understood or even known in our present industrial society. There are words that perfectly describe some essential concepts, and we want to make those words known and find or create words as needed to identify and discuss concepts.
So this Glossary is as much a workspace for me to understand and define words as it is a place for you to look up the meaning of a word. As a result, you'll find more than definitions here. You'll see my notes and jottings and explorations and meanderings and delight as I explore and define a nomenclature for our subject at hand.
I intend to frequently link to these definitions in everything I write, for clarity, but also to get these words and definitions into use.
And I hope you will take advantage of the comments to ask questions and give us your two cents. Language is a living, changing, evolving part of Life. New words and definitions are constantly being created. So let's create our language for this subject.
Eventually, this will all get standardized into a format, but for the moment, it's a work in progress.
What a Difference a Word Makes
As writers, words are important to us. They are the basic unit of understanding. Not understanding a word can prevent the understanding of a sentence, which can prevent the understanding of a thought, which can prevent the understanding of a whole subject. And conversely, the understanding of just one word can make something go so right it can be life-changing and even change the world.
I had a dramatic example of this while working on this website, when I decided to look up the definition of the word nature. I thought I knew what the word meant, but as I thought about it, I got confused about how to use the word in the context of writing about lifely. To me, humans are a species of nature among other species. But, lo and behold, the dictionary definition of nature is everything in the world except humans! While that definition is not true from the viewpoint of Life, it is true from the viewpoint of industrialization. In the industrial world, humans are consumers and nature is natural resources. Anything made by man is man-made and not of nature. This is the standard dictionary definition across all the modern dictionaries I could find, which shows how far the reality of our current culture is from the actual truth.
Given the importance of words, please do look up any word you don’t understand, especially if you are struggling to understand any of the ideas on The Lifely Group websites. Never underestimate the clarity and power that can be released with the understanding of a word. And if the industrial dictionary definition doesn't make sense, please contact us and we'll add the words you don't understand to this Glossary.
Please take as much time as you need to understand words. Take our definitions as a starting point and continue to explore until you reach the satisfaction of understanding. The internet is a wonderful tool that can give you a breadth of information that goes far beyond a simple dictionary definition. Following the path that opens when you begin to explore the meaning of a word can be an adventure in itself.
The Dictionaries We Use
As we began to work on this Glossary, we happened to become aware of a film called "The Professor and the Madman," which is about the process of compiling words for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). It actually took seventy years and the participation of volunteers from the entire English-speaking world to complete this. We take language for granted today, but there was a time when there was little order to the English language and now we have that order. [Read more about the History of the OED]
Though we, Debra and Larry, had relied on other more "everyday" and "convenient" online, free, dictionaries, once we saw the film we realized what we had been missing and set out to learn more about the OED. As the accepted authority on the English language, it is "an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world." In addition to the present-day meaning of words, "you’ll also find the history of individual words, and of the language—traced through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books." This was just what we needed.
We wanted to make sure we had the definitive information about words in our Glossary so we looked online to see how we could access the OED.
It turns out that the OED is now available only online. And you have to pay for a yearly subscription—unless you have a library card from a library that subscribes to the OED, and then you can have unlimited access for free. The closest library that had a subscription was the San Francisco Public Library, so we drove to San Francisco and got a library card. If you want access to the OED online, just find your nearest library that subscribes and get a library card.
We love having the OED available as a reference, but it is a bit cumbersome if you just want a quick definition. So I, Debra, usually start with the Merriam Webster Dictionary and then go to the OED if I need more clarity or want to know more details on the history of the use of the word.
We really needed access to the OED because we had been noticing that modern dictionaries contained definitions of words based on our current industrial worldview, which didn't necessarily match Life itself. We've found so many "industrial" definitions of words in the so-called English dictionaries we feel like we need to rewrite the dictionary! And so we're starting with this glossary. We'll give you the industrial definitions, the relevant historical definitions, and our lifely definitions. Who knows, maybe one day we'll have a Lifely Dictionary based on actual Life.
We really need new language to write about Life, and we're starting to create that right here.
One thing that is important to understand about dictionaries is that they are collections of words based on use. The OED was complied by people all over the English-speaking world sending in examples of words used in print. But there are also words used in speech, I just learned that Shakespeare made up 422 words! Dictionaries are continuously adding and deleting words and definitions they think are obscure. Dictionaries reflect the viewpoints and usage of today, not yesterday, and obviously not the unknown future. So we're feeling free to create language based in Life and we welcome your participation.
an essential or integral component of something
“To lovers of the wild, these mountains are not a hundred miles away. Their spiritual power and the goodness of the sky make them near, as a circle of friends. … You cannot feel yourself out of doors; plain, sky, and mountains ray beauty which you feel. You bathe in these spirit-beams, turning round and round, as if warming at a camp-fire. Presently you lose consciousness of your own separate existence: you blend with the landscape, and become part and parcel of nature.”
— John Muir
This is a phrase we use inspired by the poem “The Pasture” by Robert Frost, in which he invites his love to come along with him as he does things.
by Robert Frost
I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.
I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.
We so love this poem that we wrote a poem based on this filled in with things we were doing in our lives, each inviting the other to come along.
With few exceptions, in virtually all of today’s dictionaries the word nature has this definition:
the phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.
We find this curious, but predictable, for we have found that many definitions in dictionaries today are written from the viewpoint of industrialization instead of from the viewpoint of Life.
It’s so interesting to me how definitions of many words are related to Life.
This is one of my favorites.