Word of the year for 2017? – Wonder

By Carol / January 3, 2017 /

Choosing a word of the year is popular. The Oxford Dictionaries chose ‘post-truth’ as their word in 2016, while Merriam-Webster settled on ‘surreal,’ and tapped ‘xenophobia.’ All  good choices given the year’s events.

A number of my friends choose a word that focuses them for the coming year. Serenity and Mindfulness are some examples. As friends shared their words for the 2017, I wondered how they do it. There are so many words that might apply.

I am frequently in awe of nature. This full rainbow caused me to stand in wonder.

Immediately, I recognized ‘wonder’ as a good word of the year for me. Wonder has many meanings so I am not trapped in one idea for the entire year. And my life circumstances already tell me this year will be full of moments that will cause me to pause.

Wonder encompasses curiosity, amazement, awe.

  • I am in wonder at our granddaughters who bring such joy to our lives.
  • I wonder if our neighbors who raise Percheron horses will let us ride them sometime?
  • I wonder what it will be like to tour the ancient Greek monasteries, to stand in the middle of the 2500-year-old Parthenon, to ask the Oracle at Delphi my own questions?
  • When I travel to Greece, I imagine I’ll be in wonder at finally fulfilling the very first travel desire I ever articulated, in eighth grade when we studied the Greek gods and goddesses, and again in college when I studied Greek theatre.

Wonder leaves room for doubt and uncertainty.

  • I wonder what our country will be like under President Donald Trump?
  • I wonder if any of the agents I pitch my novel to will like it enough to represent me?
  • I wonder what I’ll do if they don’t?
  • Now that I’ve finished the manuscript that occupied my time for two years, I wonder what will rise up as my next project? A question for the Oracle, no?

Wonder encourages emotion excited by what is strange and surprising.

  • Standing in the midst of my prairie, I feel wonder that pioneers could actually cross through miles of tall grass.
  • It is a wonder that I like ouzo. (If I actually said this, it truly would be a wonder. But who knows? I’m open to the possibility.)

Having latched onto Wonder, I imagine I’ll find even more reasons to experience all facets of the word. Having chosen the word, I’ll be reminded to appreciate more deeply each of these moments. An added value to choosing a word.

Do you chose a word of the year? If you have, please share. If you don’t have one but find that Wonder resonates for you, be my guest. I’m sure there’s plenty of wonder around for all of us.


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  1. Merril Smith on January 3, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Great word, Carol! And how [wonder]ful that you are traveling to Greece! I’m certain you will find much to wonder about and much to feel wonder for there. As for this year, I also feel doubt and uncertainty and wonder what will happen in a way in which I have not wondered before. It’s like the calendar has become before DT and after DT. But I will hope it does not come to that.
    Wishing you wondrous joy with wonder!

    I’ve never chosen a word of the year. But I understand those who’ve chosen surreal.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on January 3, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      Thank you, Merril. Much to be excited about this year. And things we must be watchful about. In all cases, I guess we’ll see. Best to you in 2017. I’ll be looking to your poetry to offer perspective.

  2. Linda Hoye on January 3, 2017 at 6:19 pm

    Wonder is, well, a wonderful choice for a word of the year! I chose FOCUS with INTENTION as a close second. I believe there can be something powerful about committing to a word. The first, and only, time I committed to choosing a word was in 2012 when I chose INHABIT; that year set the tone for the life I’m living today.

    Here’s to a wonder-filled year!

    • Carol Bodensteiner on January 4, 2017 at 11:48 am

      When I first read your comment, Linda, I thought you chose ‘focus with intention’ as your guiding principle for 2017. I think you could keep both words. Combining them gives even more power to focus. Just a thought. Fascinating that choosing a word has such power. Even knowing you only through your writing, I can see how Inhabit had an effect.

  3. Paulette Mahurin on January 4, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Wonder is a good word. And Greece is a wonderful place to visit. I lived there in the early 70s. Standing before the Parthenon never ceased to amaze. Am sure you’ll find it wonderful also. Happy New Year.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on January 4, 2017 at 11:45 am

      How interesting that you lived in Greece, Paulette. I’d like to know about what took you there, how widely you traveled, and what have been your most enduring memories. I will be packing a life time of interest into this trip. The best of 2017 to you, too.

  4. Laurie Buchanan on January 4, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Carol — Not only do I like the word WONDER, I really appreciated the details you shared about it. Thank you.

    I shared my 2017 focus word—SANKALPA—yesterday over at Tuesdays With Laurie.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on January 4, 2017 at 11:41 am

      The dictionary provides some of my favorite reading. Often I find words mean more than I think. Or that I have understood an often used word to mean something different than it really does.

      SANKALPA is new to me, Laurie. I appreciate how you’ve not only chosen determination for 2017, but that you’re also taking active steps to nurture Hope, Grace, and Peace. Have a wonderful year.

  5. Nan Johnson on January 4, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Carol, I couldn’t agree more with your choice of WONDER, and, like Laurie, appreciate how you shared the subtle differences in the meaning of this fine word. I find comfort and delight in wondering about the mysteries of the world, large and small. Inspiring post. Thank you.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on January 4, 2017 at 11:52 am

      The world is full of mysteries. Perhaps by choosing Wonder, I’ll be reminded to experience – and appreciate – more of them. Thanks for commenting, Nan.

  6. Elfrieda Neufeld Schroeder on January 4, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    Carol, I’ve committed to work earnestly at writing my memoir this year. I took a creative writing class in November (6 sessions) and will take a one day class on memoir writing in February. I WONDER if I can do it? Perhaps “wonder” should not be my word of the year. Any suggestion?

    • Carol Bodensteiner on January 5, 2017 at 11:47 am

      I wonder if your word of the year is COMMITTED, Elfrieda? You have wanted to write your memoir and it sounds as though this is the year to do it. We will all be cheering you on. Keep us posted.

  7. Chuck Robertson on January 5, 2017 at 6:14 pm

    I don’t have a word of the year, but wonder is as good as any I could come up with. That word emphasizes we don’t really know what’s going to happen, for better or for worse.

    • Carol Bodensteiner on January 6, 2017 at 8:50 am

      You make a point worth emphasizing, Chuck. “Wonder” doesn’t place a value good or bad. It simply raises up the topic for consideration. Thanks.

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