I know that others collect fine wines, cigars, or comics. Some collect stamps, coins, or classic cars.

Me? I’m still adding to my list of vivid verbs. Today, I collected shrinks, implicates, recoils, and deems. What began as a way to help students avoid saying, “this author says,” or “this argument says,” now stands as a large collection of vivid verbs that show what the person does. The author shrinks this or that, implicates this or that, recoils at this or that, deems this or that.

As I grade papers, read articles online, enjoy a novel at my bedside, or listen to other speak, I capture the verb in my hands like beautiful butterflies. I cage them on my list. I’m nearly to a thousand of my favorites. To make the list, the verb must offer me an image and a mood.

Sometimes, the pastor will say he “grappled with” something (my favorite verb that’s already on the list), so I’ll simply nod in acknowledgement of a beautiful thing.

Meanwhile, I’m off to grade more papers where students realize their sources have reiterated, prejudiced, or restructured an argument. And I’ll look for that fresh new verb that shimmers on the page.

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