Words we don't know


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Thread: Words we don't know

  1. #1

    Words we don't know

    I was reading an article in the Guardian on President Trump this morning and along came this word:

    perspicacity

    It means: Perspicacity is a penetrating discernment —a clarity of vision or intellect which provides a deep understanding and insight. It takes the concept of wisdom deeper in the sense that it denotes a keenness of sense and intelligence applied to insight. It has been described as a deeper level of internalization.

    The author said that Trump did not posses this quality, so I had to look it up. I agreed with his assessment, but I wondered - how many of you look up words that you don't know when you see them in print or on the Internet, or do you just read on hoping you'll get the gist eventually? Are you compelled sometimes to use unusual words in your stories, just for the fun of it?
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  2. #2
    Always, specially when it is the overwriting on a palimpsest...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  3. #3
    I definitely look things up. In your example, by using an usual word, the author is bringing your attention to his point. It works well in non-fiction. I think you have to be careful not to try too hard to use unusual words in fiction. It can appear to be clumsy and over-worked. If you do use an unusual word in fiction, you likely need to add some context to it. Why have you used it? That's my initial thought.

    But, now that you mention it, I'm going to watch for examples of unusual words in fiction, to see if works.
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  4. #4
    I do it all the time. When I read books, I jot down words I don't know with the page and paragraph so I can go back and see them used in context. I started a little book with lots of different ways of describing things for reference too. I had a snowy scene section, a thunder storm section, a forest section etc. It was intended as a way of copying but merely a way of seeing how other authors dealt with these scenes. Unfortunately I lost all of that work, along with a good two thirds of my writing.
    Craft / Draft / Graft And Write To Entertain.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    I do it all the time. When I read books, I jot down words I don't know with the page and paragraph so I can go back and see them used in context. I started a little book with lots of different ways of describing things for reference too. I had a snowy scene section, a thunder storm section, a forest section etc. It was intended as a way of copying but merely a way of seeing how other authors dealt with these scenes. Unfortunately I lost all of that work, along with a good two thirds of my writing.
    What a shame you have lost it!
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
    I definitely look things up. In your example, by using an usual word, the author is bringing your attention to his point. It works well in non-fiction. I think you have to be careful not to try too hard to use unusual words in fiction. It can appear to be clumsy and over-worked. If you do use an unusual word in fiction, you likely need to add some context to it. Why have you used it? That's my initial thought.

    But, now that you mention it, I'm going to watch for examples of unusual words in fiction, to see if works.
    I agree, Taylor. Also, one of my biggest turn-offs is when fiction writers spend a lot of time discussing regional aspects that are so unfamiliar that I lose interest pretty quickly. I think this falls in the same category as seldom-used words. Using terminology about an Alaskan wilderness, for example, that has little meaning or understanding to most writers who don't live in Alaska can often spell disaster. I don't mean a casual reference. I mean filling page after page with words that are meaningless unless you have a dictionary nearby.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by TheMightyAz View Post
    I do it all the time. When I read books, I jot down words I don't know with the page and paragraph so I can go back and see them used in context. I started a little book with lots of different ways of describing things for reference too. I had a snowy scene section, a thunder storm section, a forest section etc. It was intended as a way of copying but merely a way of seeing how other authors dealt with these scenes. Unfortunately I lost all of that work, along with a good two thirds of my writing.
    Perhaps the memory of writing these scenes is more valuable than having the paper record. Sorry to hear about the loss of your work! But, a good incentive to write more...
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  8. #8
    Pulchritude. (It means beauty.)

    Who comes up with these words?

    Acerbic
    . (Adjective | a harsh manner of speaking.)

    Don't feel bad if you didn't know it, either. I couldn't even find it in my desktop dictionary.

    Avuncular. (Of or relating to an uncle.)

    Why do we have a word for this?

    Adumbrate. (Summarize as an outline.)

    I should have already known that.

    Aquiline. (Looking like an eagle.)

    This one, though I have heard it before once or twice without investigating the meaning, stuck with me. I think it has a potential for being very "show"-y. It has a built-in metaphor.

    Argot. (Jargon.)

    Bathetic. (Insincere, superficial. )
    This list could probably go on for a couple hundred thousand words.
    Last edited by EternalGreen; January 21st, 2021 at 08:36 PM.

  9. #9
    From today, from a book my library said was a classic:

    ...pooling Jackson Pollack schmierkunst on the monovalent radicals of the Vinylite seat covers.
    I didn't look.

    My worry, actually, is using a word my reader doesn't know. So I have this fear that if look up schmeirkunst, I'll like it and want to use it. I don't care about Vinylite, and I don't want to get angry if the author is misusing monovalent radicals.
    Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools not Rules is finally published and available for $3 Hidden Content . Should be mandatory for serious writers, IMO. Italics, Fragments, Disfluency, lists, etc. But also commas and paragraph length. Discussed use of adverbs, and ends with a chapters on the awesome moment and the grammar of action scenes. Description at my Hidden Content

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    Pulchritude. (It means beauty.)

    Who comes up with these words?

    Acerbic
    . (Adjective | a harsh manner of speaking.)

    Don't feel bad if you didn't know it, either. I couldn't even find it in my desktop dictionary.

    Avuncular. (Of or relating to an uncle.)

    Why do we have a word for this?

    Adumbrate. (Summarize as an outline.)

    I should have already known that.

    Aquiline. (Looking like an eagle.)

    This one, though I have heard it before once or twice without investigating the meaning, stuck with me. I think it has a potential for being very "show"-y. It has a built-in metaphor.

    Argot. (Jargon.)

    Bathetic. (Insincere, superficial. )
    This list could probably go on for a couple hundred thousand words.
    Ok learned some new ones here, but Acerbic and Aquiline are two of my favourites.

    Acerbic is so much better than mean or nasty. The word itself has such a visual connotation, I picture acid or sour lemons.

    And I use Aquiline to describe a certain type of nose, it is slightly hawked. I have always wanted one myself, so I use it as a favourable feature.
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

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