One-a-Week Three: The Words

Being a certain sort of person, when faced with a problem which concerns words, I reach for the dictionary. And so, for this weeks challenge, we have:


verb (used without object)
1. to become decomposed; rot: vegetation that was decaying.
2. to decline in excellence, prosperity, health, etc.; deteriorate.
3. Physics. (of a radioactive nucleus) to change spontaneously into one or more different nuclei in a process in which atomic particles, as alpha particles, are emitted from the nucleus, electrons are captured or lost, or fission takes place.
4. to cause to decay or decompose; rot: The dampness of the climate decayed the books.
5. decomposition; rot: Decay made the wood unsuitable for use.
6. a gradual falling into an inferior condition; progressive decline: the decay of international relations; the decay of the Aztec civilizations.
7. decline in or loss of strength, health, intellect, etc.: His mental decay is distressing.
8. Also called disintegration, radioactive decay. Physics. a radioactive process in which a nucleus undergoes spontaneous transformation into one or more different nuclei and simultaneously emits radiation, loses electrons, or undergoes fission.
9. Aerospace.the progressive, accelerating reduction in orbital parameters, particularly apogee and perigee, of a spacecraft due to atmospheric drag


verb (used without object)

1. to increase by natural development, as any living organism or part by assimilation of nutriment; increase in size or substance.
2. to form and increase in size by a process of inorganic accretion, as by crystallization.
3. to arise or issue as a natural development from an original happening, circumstance, or source: Our friendship grew from common interests.
4. to increase gradually in size, amount, etc.; become greater or larger; expand: His influence has grown.
5. to become gradually attached or united by or as if by growth: The branches of the trees grew together, forming a natural arch.
6. to come to be by degrees; become: to grow old.


A few thoughts which followed from that:

  • both words are very active. (I suppose that’s to be expected from verbs.)
  • both have definitions which concern living organisms: vegetation, wood, nutrients, trees, persons
  • both also have non-organic associations: atomic particles, crystallization, spacecraft in orbit

And so a few preliminary questions:

  • Shall I try to represent the word figuratively or abstractly?
  • Can I express the active nature of the word? How? moving parts? a series of forms which depicts change over time? some widely understood symbol?
  • What materials might evoke the word?
  • How could I use color to convey the word?
  • Can I create a patina or other finish which is appropriate to the word?

I’ve already decided on a game plan and am making sketches. I will post tomorrow with a few more specific ideas of what one might do with these words and hopefully some sketches of where my idea is going.

As I write this, I’m remembering why, for the first two challenges, almost all the work got done on Friday. I am dog tired after work. I’m trying to get rolling earlier this week, but what seemed like a reasonable plan over the weekend, now seems completely unsuited to the reality of my energy level. But for me, one of the main benefits of this project is that it forces me to accept limits, and then just roll with it. So I’m tired, and I’m rolling along….

But it’s still fun.

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1 Comment

  1. One-a-Week Three: Brainstorming « tether

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