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Know Man's Land

"I know." We say it to each other all the time:

The mailman is coming. I know.

The square root of 36 is 6. I know.

I feel so overwhelmed. I know.

He shouldn't treat her like that. I know.

The "buy one get one free" sale starts today. I know.

I know how to ride a bike.

I know a thing or two.

I know this city like the back of my hand.

I know this poem by heart.

I know this list of examples is getting boring so I will get on with it.


Webster's Dictionary devotes nearly an entire column to the word and its derivatives. I'm surprised I never before deeply contemplated what an intriguing word know is. We use it to inform others that we have intellectually understood a fact or concept, we use it to commiserate, we use it to relay acknowledgement, we use it to imply proficiency at a skill. We can irritate others with it and become a know-it-all. We can impress others with our know-how. We can get ourselves in trouble by using the word when we should have used another, as in a response of "I know"  when one of our friends says "I look fat in these pants." What a multi-purpose word know is! It's the Swiss Army Knife of semantics.





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