Word Nerd: Use Your Words v.1

Hello all! My apologies for my absence from Geekin’ Out lately. I’ve spent the last two weeks packing, moving, unpacking and all of that crazy, time-consuming and rather tiring stuff. At least the unpacking’s kind of fun. The packing and moving, not so much, but what can you do.

I’m going to try something simple this week, as it was something I’ve wanted to try out since I was asked to write this column, and I’m already considering making it a regular thing: I’m going to choose ten words that I think are pretty friggin’ fantastic that should be used more in both written and oral language. Some of them are going to be simple, everyday words, and some of them will be words that almost no one uses except for novelists (at least in my estimation). This may end up being a brief column, but it’s just a tester, so let’s see how it goes, shall we?

 

Meticulous

Showing great attention to detail; very careful and precise.

This word is often forgotten and abused, I think. ‘Detail-oriented’ prevails as one of the most common and simple replacements, thanks to the writing of résumés, cover letters and professional biographies.

‘Careful’ is also used in its stead many times, to my dismay, often in the wrong sort of context. If you take pride in doing something well, you do it meticulously; ‘carefully’ implies that there is a negative consequence if it isn’t done properly. For example, I am meticulous when I go over the documents that proof when I am at work, but you wouldn’t say that you would attempt to disarm a bomb meticulously, but rather carefully, or even cautiously.

Cautious

  1. Attentive to potential problems or dangers.
  2. (of an action) Characterized by such an attitude

As I’ve already said, ‘careful’ is used far too often these days. It’s a default word that’s almost a crutch for those who are unwilling to pick up a thesaurus now and again. I would so love to see this word make a comeback and to see ‘careful’ take a back seat for once in its life.

Raucous

Making or constituting a disturbingly harsh and loud noise: “raucous youths”.

S’pose I may as well say here and now that this is yet another word that could simply be used in place of a more common one. I first read the word ‘raucous’ in one of the Harry Potter books (I want to say Chamber of Secrets, but I could be wrong) and I’ve loved the sound of it ever since. Rather than using ‘noisy’ or ‘loud’, as everyone does, why not bandy this word about when describing that insane party that the neighbours’ teenagers threw last weekend? It makes you sound like you’re more than intelligent and respectable enough to be judging them for their antics, which is always a plus when you’re complaining about something, am I right?

On a related note, I discovered The Unofficial Harry Potter Vocabulary Builder on GoogleBooks and was elated that someone had come up with the idea of compiling such a volume. You should go check it out.

Incorrigible

(of a person or their tendencies) Not able to be corrected, improved, or reformed.

This is easily one of my most favourite words. I use it on almost everyone at some point or another, nearly always in jest. I get tired of hearing people tell others that they’re “impossible”, because technically speaking, that’s an incorrect use of the word; they exist, so clearly they’re possible. (I’m going to get flak for that, aren’t I, just like with the ice-cream thing?) What they really mean to say is that the other person is incorrigible, so why don’t they say what they mean?

Delectable

  1. (of food or drink) Delicious.
  2. Extremely beautiful.

This is one of those words that can sound dated if it isn’t used under ideal circumstances, but it can sound so delightful at times, so I decided to include it. For the most part, it’s used to describe food that is out of this world, but most people seem to forget that it has a second meaning. I’ve yet to hear a single person, myself included, describe something or someone as ‘delectable’ in terms of beauty, but I’m sure that it would be considered quite the compliment.

Anachronism

  1. A thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, esp. a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.
  2. an act of attributing a custom, event, or object to a period to which it does not belong.

Perhaps it’s my interest for Doctor Who and similar time-travel shows and movies that brought this word to mind. I wanted to write it in as ‘anachronistic’, which for whatever reason sends my brain into a tizzy whenever I hear it, but I thought it best to write it in its noun form.

Do you ever immediately notice something because it’s so obviously from the past? I love wandering around in my parents’ basement and having my eyes drawn to antiquities that they’ve collected from my grand- and great-grandparents. Generally speaking, that’s the effect that an anachronism has. Of course, in my favourite shows, the anachronisms are either purposeful plot points or goofs in part from the film crews, but either way, you notice them.

The second meaning of this word is also typically forgotten. I like to apply it whenever I hear a ditzy girl talking about how she’s positive that the Titanic sank in the 1950s.

Facetious

Treating serious issues with deliberately inappropriate humor; flippant.

I don’t deal with people too often these days except for my tweeps and coworkers, so this word doesn’t often enter my mind. This past week I was thinking it quite often, though.

Steve Jobs’ passing hit me much harder than I’d expected it to, as I’d never realized how much I looked up to him and his work. A startling number of people on Twitter were bashing him and saying that they were glad he was gone, and many more were cracking jokes about his death. That, in my mind, is the very essence of facetiousness, and I’m sad to admit that I believe the internet’s at fault for bringing that particularly negative quality to such widespread existence and presence.

… Moving on.

Embellish

  1. Make (something) more attractive by the addition of decorative details or features: “blue silk embellished with golden embroidery”.
  2. Make (a statement or story) more interesting or entertaining by adding extra details, esp. ones that are not true.

I can’t explain why, but the word ‘embellish’ is a wonderful word to say. I think it’s the -ish at the end. Any word that means ‘to make something more beautiful or interesting’ is good in my books.

Unctuous

  1. (of a person) Excessively or ingratiatingly flattering; oily: “anxious to please in an unctuous way”.
  2. (chiefly of minerals) Having a greasy or soapy feel.

This particular word always comes across as wonderfully gross whenever I read or hear it. Whether it’s used to describe someone as being too willing to please or something that literally has an oily, greasy surface or texture, it makes me shudder. Not many words have that kind of an effect on me, and so I simply had to include it.

Idyllic

(esp. of a time or place) Like an idyll; extremely happy, peaceful, or picturesque: “an idyllic setting”.

There are far too many words that are essentially descriptors meaning ‘perfect’ or ‘paradisiacal’ (which is also a great word), and sadly this one is hardly ever used. It’s quite a shame, that, because it’s a gorgeous word and just rolls off the tongue. Writers ought to use ‘idyllic’ more often when trying to convey that sense of calm, peace, bliss, etc.

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And there you have it, the first sampling of Toria’s word choice! What do you think? Please leave comments if you agree or disagree with any of my choices, because I’m certain that there are many words that deserve mentions in my next entry for this column.

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2 Comments

  1. Ben
    Posted October 9, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Awesome writing, as always. All of the words you have used are ones I love hearing and using, and the ones I would add include innocuous, proclivity, hubris and precocious. I’ve also been on the receiving end of your using the word “Incorrigible”, usually with a “freakin” in the middle, and most deservedly so 🙂

    • Toria
      Posted October 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      “In-freakin’-corrigible” needs to be added to the dictionary, pronto.

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