What is a miracle?

My kids and I (mostly, admittedly, me) have really been enjoying watching “Miraculous: The Adventures of Ladybug and Cat Noir.” I’ve also happened upon some really impressive fan fiction by some very talented authors. 

The show is charming, involving two Parisian high school students: aspiring fashion designer Marinette, who has a crush on her fashion model classmate Adrien. Thanks to some Far Eastern magic and unknown to each other, they have been gifted little deities called “Miraculous” that transform them into the superheroes Ladybug and Cat Noir. And the pun-making hero Cat Noir has a crush on super-competent save-the-day Ladybug. The comedy of it all and the absurd solutions to the ridiculous villains deserves its own “Why Engineers Shouldn’t Watch TV” series, which I may write as I cycle through the series again.

While perhaps someone my age should not take such enjoyment from an animated series intended for a tween audience, I find that it helps me get into the heads of my own teenage characters in a more believable way.

So my daughter was peeking over my shoulder at a Ladybug fanfic I was reading and came across the word “miraculous.” She asked me what it meant, and I hit a wall trying to find an explanation for this word to my six-year-old.

Enter my trusty dictionary and the habit I cultivated in high school preparing for the PSATs—anytime in the course of any of my reading (personal and scholastic) that I found a word that I couldn’t immediately define or identify a synonym for from my extensive vocabulary, I looked it up. Needless to say, I ACED the PSAT and SAT verbal section. I still do this exercise, albeit a little less frequently and needfully, but still very consciously. It’s definitely given a certain specificity to writing a particular feeling or emotion when you understand the difference between “cackle” and “giggle.”

Anyway, back to the point of today’s “Word Wednesday” and T’s question…what is a miracle?

After scouring various sources, the definition I gave T for a miracle is “an unexpected but welcome (or positive) event that cannot (currently) be explained by science and therefore is attributed to God.”

My Latin and theatre-loving heart thinks of deux ex machina here: machinations of the gods to resolve a plot, except this is supposed to be in real life.

A Note on FanFics

I’ve always enjoyed reading fan fiction, and early on I did write some of my own. Recently I wondered about the value of talented authors spending their efforts writing stories that they will never be able to make money from. But then I concluded that the real reason writers write is that they want people to gain enjoyment from their stories. Certainly the longer fanfics I’ve read are well-developed stories with interesting plots and beautiful language. In many cases, these authors stay true to the style of their source material and write stories that offer the same flavor as the original.

About Word Wednesday

Learning new words and being able to find the word that means exactly what the story needs can mean the difference between a mediocre story and a brilliant one.

On Wednesdays we will identify an unusual word, provide its definition, and discuss its application or its impact.

Spooky Words for Halloween: Fear, Scare, & Afraid

Happy Halloween!

Today we’re looking at how the words “fear,” “scare,” and “afraid” are different.

Halloween Word Wednesday

So what is “fear” exactly? When I looked at the words I wanted to discuss for this Word Wednesday, each frequently used another to define itself.

Fear as a noun is an emotion, an unpleasant or distressing one, caused by anticipation or awareness of impending danger, evil, or pain. It doesn’t matter if the thing feared is real or imagined…the distress is there.

Now that we have a clear meaning for fear, onward to the verb forms!


If you scare someone, you fill them with fear or terror, usually suddenly. Alarm is a good synonym here—it rattles you awake suddenly. (At least mine does. I’m not a morning person in the least.)

Scare can also be a noun:

Think of a visit to a doctor’s office and the seemingly interminable wait for test results—this can be a scare.

  • A widespread state of alarm, where a population panics


To be afraid is to feel or be filled with one of these emotions

  • fear,
  • regret or unhappiness, or
  • unwillingness or dislike

Treat afraid as a more general sense rather than one specific instance.

In a powerful safety video one of my friends found, they explained the word afraid to help people keep their senses alert for the things that could go wrong instead of just proceeding through their work obliviously.


Fear as a verb can be used with or without an object.

It can mean

  • to have fear (of something) or to be afraid—see what I mean about circular reasoning?
  • to be in awe of something, or
  • to feel uneasy about something.

Fear is a lot closer to afraid than scared is to either of them.

Can you think of any other spooky Halloween words related to fear?

Related Posts:

Spooky, Frightful, & Scary

Halloween is Here Again

Halloween Drama: Taking Candy From a Baby

Learning new words and being able to find the word that means exactly what the story needs can mean the difference between a mediocre story and a brilliant one.