Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Naked bullion menders?

Naked bullion menders?

I spent this last weekend with 1200 of my closest friends at the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators’ national conference in Los Angeles, where we heard dozens of industry luminaries speak. Here are a couple of quotes & related etymologies from the conference.

Mem Fox - brilliant human being & award-winning Australian picture book author - said of her work (among other things)

“I am a breaker of hearts and a mender of hearts that are broken.”

Those who’ve read her books know that when Ms Fox is breaking hearts in her books, even her youngest readers are in very good hands.  The word mend came to English from French in 1200, meaning to repair.

Meg Wollitzer, young adult & adult novelist,
writing teacher, & short story writer, said

“A novel is a bullion cube of a writer’s sensibility.”

The word bullion came to English from Anglo-French in the early 1400s, meaning uncoined gold or silver. Its source may have been the Old French word for boiling or melting, boillier, or another Old French word bille, meaning stick or block of wood.

Poet, athlete, novelist & powerful speaker Kwame Alexander advised authors

"Be naked. Be open. Be unafraid. Be real. Be authentic. Be incredible."

The word naked came from the Old English word nacod, meaning bare, empty, not fully clothed. Some of its cognates include: Frisian, nakad; German, nackt; Sanskrit, nagna, & Old Swedish, nakuþer.

Whether you are a writer or non-writer, may you mend hearts, may your sensibilities be concentrated in whatever work you do, & may you have the bravery to embrace your literal or metaphorical nakedness.

Big thanks to this week’s sources: Wordnik, Etymonline, Merriam Webster, & the OED.
Images come from,, &


  1. It sounds as if you had an inspiring time at the conference!

    I always wondered what bullion cubes had to do with gold bullion, and now I know. "Boil" seems an obvious related word, but I'd never thought of it before.

  2. Hey Anne - thankfully, the one doesn't cost as much as the other. Thanks for coming by.

  3. Clever post! Glad to hear you had an inspiring weekend with all of those close friends! I like Mem Fox's quote:

    “I am a breaker of hearts and a mender of hearts that are broken.”

    I love to read that kind of writing.

  4. Hey Christine - good to "see" you here. Keep breaking & mending.