As writers, we deal in words. Therefore, it behooves us to know a lot of them. An expanded vocabulary will allow us to use the perfectly nuanced word for what we are trying to express. For instance, if I say I am excited, which one of these words would be the most precise for the given occasion?
- Aflame, animated, ardent, aroused, atingle, avid
- Bouncy, bubbly
- Eager, ebullient, elated, electrified, enlivened, enthusiastic, exhilarated, exuberant
- Fervent, fervid, feverish, fiery, fired up, frenzied
- Heated, hot, hyperactive
- Keen, keyed-up
- Passionate, peppy, perky
- Sparkling, sparky, spirited, stimulated, stirred, stoked
- Thrilled, tickled, titillated
- Wired, wound-up
As I encourage my fellow writers to grow in this regard, I offer two great resources plus a contest to get your words flowing:
- Consider subscribing to Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day to receive daily emails. And here’s an idea, perhaps if your writing is stuck one day, adding the new word to your tale can send you in an interesting new direction.
- Also, you may want to look at this great website, KathySteinemann.com — It is the source for all the “excited” words above, A-Z.
- And then, read my story below. I challenged myself to use all 31 of the January, 2021 words of the day from Merriam-Webster in one coherent (I hope) story. After reading my attempt, you may want to try the challenge yourself, so you will find contest rules for doing just that after my story. (Disclaimer: The contest and prize are not affiliated with The Writing Cooperative.)
That said, here’s my story: Can You Use Sarcophagus in a Sentence?
Today, I would liketo REPRISE a topic I have written about before: the dumbing down of America by those who write for an online audience. Such content creators are encouraged to write at a level that is easily understood by teenagers. Specifically, they are instructed to employ short words with three syllables or fewer. Writers are told that if we are working toward the OPTIMIZATION of our online stories, this word choice strategy will bring us close to perfection.
Since my beloved father taught me never to talk down to others, to use my best vocabulary instead, this writing tip drives me insane, and sends me running to Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day to learn new words daily, most of them polysyllabic.
What follows is my attempt to use all of the January 2021 words. I would be in JEOPARDY if I forced myself to use them in the order that they were given. So let this stand as an APOLOGIA for my actions as I offer them up in a willy-nilly fashion.
A couple of caveats before we start:
- Since I am a blogger who writes slice-or-life stories, I will never write about treating crude rubber with chemicals to give it useful properties, and therefore, I am going to skip over the word VULCANIZE.
- And since the stuff I write is rated PG, and the only thing I can think of in regard to the sense of touch is the Magic Fingers Bed I experienced in that motel on my honeymoon, I will likewise skip over the word HAPTIC.
But let’s get serious here! A good vocabulary is important. For those in the workforce, a study by the Johnson O’Connor Research Foundation/Human Engineering Laboratory has shown that a person’s vocabulary level is the best single predictor of occupational success. If you want to move from a SERVILE position to one that is PREEMINENT, no DEVIOUS action is needed. You don’t have to line the pocket of a supervisor with BAKSHEESH, nor do you need to perform OBEISANCE or kowtow to anyone; you just have to get cracking on your word proficiency.
And here’s some good news: Unlike mechanical and mathematical skills that are innate, vocabulary skills can be learned. I state this in a CATEGORICAL fashion with no ambiguity at all! Indeed, I feel it is my responsibility to explain this capability clearly, and won’t be FECKLESS in this regard.
Beyond business success, using an expanded vocabulary in the presence of your kids and grandkids will help them with their SAT scores. So on the rare occasion that they show up wearing something other than gym clothes, tell them how COMELY they look! When they are playing beautifully with their siblings and cousins, tell them you love to see such RAPPORT. Likewise, when they are behaving in an uncontrolled manner in the house, remind them not to run AMOK. And of course, should they resort to PUGILISM, remind them that the gym is the best place for boxing.
INSOUCIANCE in this regard is never my intention. Like my father before me, I am concerned about giving my kids and grandkids a vocabulary for success.
To my readers: I hope my NOSTRUM for presenting these words seems like a creative and not PEDANTIC scheme, and that it will receive EFFUSIVE praise. But if an enthusiastic response is not possible, my fingers will be crossed for a MODICUM of positive feedback. And barring that, I’ll pray that no reader will DISSOCIATE him/herself from my future stories! That would be a stiff punishment to EXACT for my attempt here at humor.
As I ponder what others will think of my story, this is a great time to talk about the term, AD HOMINEM. It means to attack someone’s character as opposed to the position the person takes. So I beg readers, if you do not agree that there are many reasons to build your vocabulary, that’s fine. Hate the story if you must, but don’t hate me.
Of course it’s just CONJECTURE, but I’m thinking my readers are not going to count the number of words in all caps and bold print. I’m guessing they will believe there are thirty-one just like the number of days in January. Certainly, no one will go to the Word of the Day website to double check the list. That being the case, no one will write to me nastily about MIMESIS, ITINERANT, RETROCEDE, or SARCOPHAGUS. At least that’s what I’m thinking.
That said, I hope you enjoyed playing with words today. If you did, and if you now have an excessive appetite for new words, a visit to the Merriam-Webster website will help with that type of GULOSITY.
This is a great word with which to end this story. I had never heard of it and neither had Microsoft Word’s dictionary. My computer and I are both enriched. I hope you are too.
If my word experiment intrigues you, please enter the contest.
Win a $50 prize plus an expanded vocabulary by following these rules…
- This contest is FREE to enter.
- It was created and will be judged by Lorie Kleiner Eckert. What’s in it for me? I’m looking for folks to subscribe to my website. With your entry, you grant me permission to add your email address to my mailing list.
- What’s in it for you?
- Winning writer will receive $50 via Venmo, PayPal, or cashier’s check, your choice.
- Winning story will appear as a guest post on my website.
- Winning story will appear in a story I post on Medium.
- Winner will be announced on all my social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Here’s that disclaimer again: The prize and contest are not affiliated with The Writing Cooperative.
- You may submit a poem, essay, or short story.
- Only one submission per person.
- Maximum length is 1000 words.
- You must use all 28 words from the Merriam-Webster word of the day list for February 2021 (in any order).
- All entries must be received by May 31, 2021.
- Submit your entry to Lorie@LorieKleinerEckert.com with Merriam-Webster Contest as the subject.
- Who knows if this will be popular? In case it is, each submission will be numbered in the order it arrives in my inbox. If there is a deluge, I reserve the right to stop reading after the first 50 entries.
I will be excited to hear from you. Well actually, that’s not the perfectly nuanced word to use here. So let me try again: I am eager to see the response, and I will be thrilled and quite stoked if there is one.
Lorie Kleiner Eckert