Monday, August 20, 2007

Words my mother taught me

My mother and I are both word geeks. Whenever we're together it's likely that the dictionary will come out. When my mother was here last month we had our typical fun with words and we ended up with three words we thought were good, that kept coming up in conversation. I'd almost forgotten them until last Saturday when I was working on the boat and they popped back into my head. So, before I forget them again, here they are:

Perspicacity - Mental acuity or sharpness. (I love this word)
Amanuensis - A scribe. This is one I had never heard before.
Dystopia- The opposite of a utopia.

One thing mom and I talked about was how people don't use "big" words much in conversation anymore, and often not even in writing. My mother has a large vocabulary and she used it when I was growing up. It obviously rubbed off on me, and I'm glad it did. She and I have tried to use words like these in conversation but it inevitably comes across as condescending. So, we're reduced to playing word games with each other. But why is is the art of language vanishing in American culture? Our language is being filtered down to the lowest common denominator. Read any newspaper or online article and there are few if any really descriptive words, let alone any challenging ones.

I would very much like if people began using more descriptive words on a regular basis. That being said, I'll toss out some "big" words that I particularly like, and use whenever I get the chance.  There may be more than one definition for each of these, but these are how I most use the words:

Plutocracy - A government of and by the wealthy.
Curmudgeonly - Being grouchy or bad-tempered.
Plebeian - Common or commonplace.
Trite - Stale, overused. (This isn't a truly big word but I don't hear it used very often)

I ran across a list compiled by the Worthless Word for the Day site. Most of these I'd not heard before, but some of them are great. Anyone else have any favorite 50 or 75 cent words they want to share?


Trapper said...

Ok, this may be a $1.50 word, but I've always loved "totalitarianism" cause it caused me to get a "B" on my speech about "Lord of the Flies", since I could pronounce it. I can now & I get to use it a lot with the current state of things :)

Mike said...

re: Weird Word of the Day

actually, that's Worthless Word for the Day:

Grrrowler said...

You are correct Mike. My mind was thinking one thing and my fingers were typing another...