While the kids spend hours playing Minecraft, we’re playing Words with Friends and Wordle, a game that expects us to know some incredibly arcane and esoteric words. Our gaming lets the internet knows we have a passion for words. Out of the blue, we started getting a new word a day from Word Daily, promising to expand our lexicon. That would be our vocabulary.
Offerings have included obnubilate…to darken or obscure. Usage example—we refused to allow the sudden downpour to obnubilate our good moods. Then there was bruit…a rumor—until all the facts are in, don’t bruit around any information. Seriously? Will we use them? No way. Will we have fun with them? Sure.
We’ve long been hooked on the word eructation, a fun synonym for belching or burping, and an entertaining description of why the grandkids at family dinner should say “excuse me.”
We were, of course, sucked in by Word Genius’ blog “How Deep Is Your Knowledge of Sustainability Vocab?” We’ve written about recycling and were feeling quite smug till we got to the word “greenwashing.” It’s been around since the 80s. Forgot that one! It describes companies that cash in on the environmental trend without taking any steps to minimize their own impact on the environment. That’s one we will add back to our lexicon.
Diablerie caught our eye. However, since it implies reckless mischief and charismatic wildness, we won’t be using it in a sentence when talking about us or our friends. We’re old. Those days are way over. How about paramnesia? Well, we have experienced this. It’s a confused memory, mixing fact and fantasy. It can result in a sense of déjà vu. As we age, we really relate to the Yogi Berra-ism: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Like when we were young and diablerie.
We love saying the word tintinnabulation. Wow! An six-syllable word. Ah, the tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells. Churches don’t ring bells anymore to remind people to come to services, so…hmmm…the tintinnabulation of…we don’t know…wind chimes??
We could go on and on: flibbertigibbet, frabjous, ragamuffin, salmagundi, verisimilar. No ragamuffin does not refer to a food, but one of these words does. Test!
Sure, we can all have fun with these rarely-used, byzantine words, but it made us think about news articles, op-eds, and television talking heads. From them, we want clear communication. KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. Keep it short and simple. Keep it simple and straightforward.
Do these communicators think long and complicated words that only a handful of people can understand make them sound smarter? Nope! A UCLA professor published a paper called, “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with using long words needlessly.” Great title! He argues that using shorter words makes people seem more intelligent while using longer, more complex words makes them appear small-minded. And, he underscores that the best writing is simple and straightforward, delivering ideas clearly.