If you would like to improve your vocabulary, it would behoove you to pay attention to unfamiliar words. Write them down, look them up, then write down the meaning.
My uncle, my Uncle Sam, had an extensive vocabulary, and from my earliest years spoke to me as an adult. He himself had a special notebook for recording new words and their meaning and encouraged me to do the same. He instilled in me a love of words.
For some reason, one such word that has always tickled me and that I use to good advantage in teaching is the word “behoove.” It doesn’t matter if the kids are in elementary school or high school the first time I say “It would behoove you…” I catch their attention. They know they haven’t heard the word before, it appears to be English but sounds funny, and it’s easy to get the meaning from context.
Occasionally funny things happen around that word. When I was subbing in a particular high school class for the first time, the kids had trouble settling down. I must have said something like, “if you want this to be a pleasant, productive class, it would behoove you to sit down and pay attention to the directions.” With that a late student strolled into class and asked loudly, “What’s going on?” “She’s “behooving” us came the reply. We all burst out laughing. (Much to my surprise I later discovered behooving is really a word.)
Recently I told a class, “This assignment is homework if you don’t finish it in class, so it would behoove you to make good use of your time.” One boy commented, “Behoove, that’s a great word.” And it is.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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