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What are Words For?

Vocab I really should’ve taken those Reader’s Digest Word Power quizzes (The New Yorker’s got nothing on RD when it comes to hilarious cartoons) I’d entertain myself with while at my grandparent’s house more seriously. It’s starting to dawn on me how vocabularily deficient I am. This first struck me last year when that cat Molly got stuck in the wall of a West Village shop and the New York Times’s account used the phrase, “During the ordeal, the media hubbub grew apace, and cat agnostics grumbled about folderol.” Folderol? WTF? Is that sort of wordsmithery really necessary? And no, I didn’t know that folderol meant trifle or nonsense. I went to public school, duh.

The 2007 me is starting to look up words if I’m not 100% sure what they mean. It’s not terribly difficult since I’m usually reading on the computer and it’s not all that hard to type (or bookmark) So far I’ve looked up recalcitrant and I was correct, it’s akin to obstinate. Yesterday, I double-checked picayune and I was pretty right on, though I was thinking more tiny than trivial.

I was feeling fairly adept, and then I was slammed by ukase. I had no inkling. Apparently, it’s an edict or decree. I don’t even think I can or want to use that in a sentence. It sounds a little like urine and ketosis.

I know that my grammar is anything but ace. I mean, I only started using paragraphs last year (here, I mean, in the real world I’ve always used them). But every so often I have shameful realizations. Today it hit me that I’ve been writing hoards for eons when I mean hordes. I found five instances of the vocab crime on this site and changed them pronto, none of that pesky slash through business. 2007 is going to be a busy year at this rate.

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  1. z #

    I’ve always had a decent vocabulary, but I’ve never had much grasp on dictionary definitions. I should follow your example…

    January 12, 2007

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