Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Keep On Grokkin' In The Free World

I love words.  Specifically, I love unusual words.

Have you ever heard of the word grok?

Robert A. Heinlein coined this term in his novel Stranger In A Strange Land. The following is an excerpt from that piece:

"Grok means to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed—to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science—and it means as little to us (because of our Earthly assumptions) as color means to a blind man."

Isn't that beautiful?

A good friend of mine introduced me to the word and now we use it all the time to express our desire to be completely understood or to completely understand.  The Oxford English dictionary provides us with this definition:  "to understand intuitively or by empathy; to establish rapport with" and "to empathize or communicate sympathetically (with); also, to experience enjoyment." 

The word was a bit more popular during the 60s (Tom Wolfe used it in his novel The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test), and it is used to today amongst hackers to describe coding comprehension.  

I love using this word, because I love the way it sounds.  Also, it rhymes with rock and therefore can be easily substituted in phrases involving rock.  So if you understand something really, really well you can say fun things like, "I'm hanging out at the Hard Grok Cafe."  

Or if you're having a really good conversation you can tell the other person, "I want to grok with you all night."

Do you see how much potential this word has?  Do you grok grok?  Will you join me in my efforts to keep on grokkin' in the free world?