Linda Maye Adams

Good Words vs. Obscure Words


Over the past few years, I’ve tried different Word of the Day subscriptions.  Often, though the words were so obscure that I wasn’t going to be able to retain them, much less use them.  So this time I looked at the kids’ section.  Merriam-Webster’s Word Central has a Buzzwords section that has good word choices.  I particularly like the examples of the word’s use–not all the Word of the Day sites do that–and the quiz at the end.  Though I should note that it only comes out on weekdays, not weekends.

3 Comments

  1. bigwords88

    Have you been following Word A Day Wonder? There have been words highlighted which are both useful and timely, and the best reason to keep an eye on the words highlighted are the great facts which accompany the definition.

    I’m not sure if there is a major difference between most of the various “word a day” sites in reading comprehension (save for the ones aimed at younger readers), and there are some choices I have noticed which use the outdated meanings of words when the common usage has changed.

    My love of obscure and foreign words is down to reading books where I have to work out what is going on by the context – there’s nothing wrong with aiming a little higher than the standard reading level. Both Watership Down and A Clockwork Orange used complex vocabulary choices to benefit the story. If they had been written in plain English they would have lost a lot of their impact.

    I’m not trying to be contrary here, just throwing a little light on why it is sometimes better to use obscure words. 🙂

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    • Sometimes the obscure words get people into the trouble, too. In 1999, a local public official used an obscure word that meant stingy. It made the newspaper and he came under fire because the word sounded similar to a derogatory one. Granted, the people complaining needed to start with a five minute visit to any dictionary, and the newspapers were just looking for headlines. But the word was also obsure enough that most people did not know what it meant, and the official ended up resigning over it. Article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/local/daily/jan99/district27.htm

      Word a Day Wonder looks interesting–though I don’t find the words there obscure. A little less common perhaps. The words I was getting at the time were bizarre to the point of being unmemorable.

      For fun, have a look at If Bureaucrats Wrote Ads: http://www.newsroom101.com/wordyads.html

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  2. bigwords88

    Those rewritten ads are a thing of beauty – so, so true.

    I’ve heard similar stories to the Washington Post article over the years, and it doesn’t come as any surprise to see yet another instance of people who don’t own dictionaries being given jobs in which they must make important decisions. The depth of their stupidity is truly bewildering.

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