Words, Words, Words

I read a great blog post today that touched upon the most-looked up words of the summer as defined by Merriam-Webster.  One of the points the post made is that the average American doesn’t know the meaning of some  common words such as “despicable,” “inception,” and “frugal.” I tweeted this post which prompted an equally great conversation on Twitter about people’s ignorance of what the post refers to as $5 vocabulary words and common acceptance of words that aren’t really words such as “refudiate.” 

As a certified English teacher and writer, I believe that word choice is everything.  I love a good, strong vocabulary word and I love people with stellar vocabularies.  I am instantly wooed by a person with an incredible lexicon.  

I could go on for days–years even–on the importance of word choice and I already have in my days as a middle school English teacher.  I don’t like this movement away from the usage of $5 words.  How will we ever know what words mean if we don’t use them?

Here are a few examples of what I mean.  There are so many great words that can sum up what you’re trying to say so beautifully. For instance, there’s no need to say, “This new medication really makes my pain go away” when you can say, “This pain medication alleviates the pain.” Instead of saying, “I can’t stand people who talk with their mouth full,” why not say, “I abhor people who talk with their mouth full.”  Having the proper documentation will not speed up the process of becoming a legal citizen, it will expedite the process.

In order to continually expand my vocabulary, I keep a list of words that I like to use so that I don’t forget to use them in my writing.  Here are some of my all-time favorites:

  • asinine
  • ascertained
  • exacerbate
  • harbored
  • heinous
  • insinuated
  • matriculate
  • meticulous
  • pagination

All in all, you must find the right words to say what you mean! No need for circumlocution.  Expand your lexicon!  Incidentally, please share some of your favorite vocabulary words with me.  I’m always on the lookout for good ones.

3 thoughts on “Words, Words, Words

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  1. It’s nice to know that, if I wasn’t married (and very happily so) that my robust vocabulary could still woo the ladies.

    Matriculate is a good word, but is so limited in its technical description of enrollment. (Did I mention I work at a University?)

    A few of my favorite words (pelase forgive the spelling, the spoken word is my forte)?
    Prolixity and verbosity.
    Stygian (thank Edgar Allan Poe for that one).

    Yes, a good vocabulary can convey much more subtle and intense meansing than a weak one. There is a downside to being so erudite, however. If a person picks words that are beyond the auidence they are intended for, then the communication is a failure.

  2. WHIPP!
    You’ve address one issue, but completely neglected the concept of efficiency of language. Rather than “I abhor people who talk with their mouth full,” you can say, “I hate people who speak with their mouth full.”

    BOOM! You’ve used a more direct word and saved syllables. Granted many people often use a generic word when there is a more specific, more suitable one, but works need to connect with people in a little time/syllables as possible.

    But yeah, you’re right. Sometimes the $5 words aren’t needed. Other times it’s better to spend more than a few dollars on a statement.

    Lastigatingly: I am 100% pro-wordmanship. But I prefer to flavor my wordmanship with absurdity, not doltishness.

  3. @funkomatic I should’ve added robust to the list. You’re right, matriculate has pretty limited usage. I would also agree that a person should know their audience! Thanks for sharing your words.

    @RvR I never thought about saving syllables. Thanks for bringing that concept to my attention. I would agree that it is also important to consider the efficiency of language as well as word choice. I also like how you flavor your words with absurdity. Lastigatingly is an excellent word.

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