All the meanings of a word


My word of the year for 2017 was STAND. As an exercise, partway through the year, I looked up all the meanings and synonyms for the word, and wrote them onto an index card that I carried around in my purse until at some point it turned into this stained and crumpled piece of paper you see above. The definition filled the entire card, in tiny letters, both sides.

1. v. To be upright, to be on one’s feet, to rise to one’s feet

2. v. Put, place, set

3. v. Take a position

4. v. Support, uphold, argue, champion, defend

5. v. Be present, remain, stay, exist, persist, continue, prevail, hold

6. v. Endure, abide, sustain, remain, last, bear up, carry on, withstand, suffer, submit to, face, weather, stomach, persevere

7. v. Be

There’s more, too. Of course STAND is also a noun with several meanings, including: position; kiosk; and a group of trees.

It was my original intention to explore meanings #3 and #4, above. I was going to take a stand and protest and speak out. But instead my year leaned heavily on #5 and especially #6. The many meanings of STAND expanded. The word took the shape of a tree in my mind, rooted with a strong spine, a good word and a good image for a year that rippled and buckled with unexpected heartache and news difficult to digest (most of which I’ve chosen not to write about on this blog, because it is either too personal or not directly my own story to tell).


STAND came to feel like a necessary, useful word, easy to incorporate into my thinking. I finished the year with greater confidence and inner quiet, at least about my writing. The word, and especially the image of a tree, seems to invite patience and calm, to look at the world and one’s own desires and human failures from a wide-angled view, as from a tree-top. In retrospect, I think I strived for less this year but nevertheless did the work I wanted to do. What more can a person ask for? It’s going to be hard to let this word go.

But it’s time to choose a new word, for a new year. I’m meeting with a group of friends tonight to share our new words. (I will share my word with you after I’ve shared it with them.) The bar is high. I’m a bit afraid. What hidden part of myself is seeking illumination?

To be continued …

xo, Carrie

PS If you choose a word of the year, please leave your word for 2018 in the comments.

Word of the year, 2018


  1. Kerry

    I love this word, stand, and the image of a tree it brings to mind for you. As for choosing, I can’t seem to settle on any one word for my year. That must mean something.

    Looking forward to the word you choose, when you choose to announce it.

  2. cath/waterloo

    i chose two words that go together, in my mind – equanimity and integrity. my 2017 word was organic (in terms of how i wanted to approach life)…and i actually DID remember it and have it in front of mind for the whole year! equanimity was a yoga class theme that really resonated with me, esp as described by our instructor. integrity will remind me of how i wish to conduct myself, and the choices i make day-to-day.
    looking forward, as i do each year, to seeing your word, carrie! happy new year!

    • Carrie Snyder

      I am interested in knowing what equanimity means to you, Cathy!

  3. A



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