Le Mot Juste

When used deftly, words can be incisive tools of communication. Finding the best word to describe an emotion or idea tumbling around inside of one's brain should be an exciting and rewarding experience. Such mental exercises keep one's wits sharp while relaying information in a vivid, often memorable manner, such as when Winston Churchill described the expected role of the Allies in World War II: "In War: Resolution. In Defeat: Defiance. In Victory: Magnanimity. In Peace: Good Will." Notice how he distilled the essence of these powerful concepts down to just a few words.

We all enjoy wielding certain favorite words in our conversation or in writing, and as a fierce proponent of increasing one's vocabulary I'd like to share some of mine. (Disclaimer: I don't use them as often as I should, but that's only because I'm shy).

adduce: to bring forward in argument or as evidence; cite as pertinent or conclusive. "Papa interrupted John before he could adduce any more reasons why he should be allowed to stay out late."

omphaloskepsis: literally, the contemplation of one's navel, which is an idiom usually meaning complacent self-absorption. "After an hour of listening to her tedious exercise in omphaloskepsis I quietly signaled our waiter for the check."

unctuous: characterized by excessive piousness or moralistic fervor, esp. in an affected manner; excessively smooth, suave, or smug. "The senior oncologist on the panel annoyed us all with his unctuous presentation of the case history."

lickspittle: a contemptible, fawning person; a servile flatterer or toady . "The Führer slammed his fist into the map, sending lickspittles hovering nearby into a frenzy of apologies."

hebdomadal: taking place, coming together, or published once every seven days; weekly:. "Mark rang off, grabbed his briefcase and headed for the elevator, anticipating a hebdomadal date with a dry martini."

See how much fun it is to use colorful words? I'll add some more later if I can find the time in between my uxorious propensities.


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