Why Lost Words?

Words helps us connect with the world around

Savouring nature through stopping and pausing and enjoying the sensations it awakes is one of life’s great joys. But we can also gain pleasure from identifying and giving a name to what we discover and engage with. It is a way of making sense of the world, comparing and contrasting and gradually refining our understanding.  This is why finding words for the plants and wildlife we encounter can add so much to a walk or a wander.

Nature words are at risk of disappearing

Over recent years, these words seem to be getting a bit lost, partly through lack of exposure to the environments where they appear and also because new words are taking their place. These are words we use for capturing experiences with television, computers and social media, for example. While these have an excitement in their own right, it is surely regrettable that words for even the simplest things in nature are slipping away. This is especially true for children as recent research has found. Reflecting the change, steps were even taken in 2007 for an array of such words to be removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary because they were becoming so unfamiliar. 

Bringing the words back to life

This is what inspired Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris to create their Lost Words book in which they seek to capture the beauty and magic of nature words that are at risk of disappearing through a series of acrostic poems or ‘spells’ and sumptuously sensitive illustrations. The events Walk the Loop is running over this half-term are inspired by this book.


The Lost Words: A Spell Book (2017), Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House UK



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