Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Word Choice Wednesday: Parse


Merriam-Webster says:
1 a: to resolve (as a sentence) into component parts of speech and describe them grammatically b: to describe grammatically by stating the part of speech and explaining the inflection and syntactical relationships 2: to examine in a minute way : analyze critically

This is a five cent word, I think. Seems to me that it's had an upswing in popularity over the last few years (using the second definition) so it's not really a ten cent word anymore (if it ever was).

More specific than:
Sort, analyze, describe. For me, it's a combination of sorting and analyzing. I like the dictionary's use of resolve, but for me resolve includes images as in a sense of focusing and clarifying. Parse refers to assemblages of discrete items, usually words but this word seems to be spreading out into other situations. Parsing search results. Parsing complex flurries of emotion.

Word relationships:
I love this word. It's got mechanical, logical connotations, it's short and succinct, and it implies a bit of success, of domination of unruly things. Life dumps a mass of data onto you and you parse it into something usable. Arrange and sort definitely require moving things around physically, whereas parse is a mental function.

Catalog would be a similar verb. Index? Those also have strong relationships to texts, for me. A little more formality, maybe.

What comes to your mind?

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