Recently I received negative feedback from a close relative concerning my alleged tendency to use elaborate, perhaps obscure, words where simpler words would do.
I was taken aback: I have long felt the richness of the English language is greatly underutilized. Indeed, many writers, such as detective story master Ellery Queen, have often dropped in uncommon diction. I have deemed this as opportunity to expand my vocabulary.
Moreover, the incident with my relative referred to a selection from the word library built up over years in our Toastmasters club. The introduction of such ‘words of the day’ has been and remains a regular feature of our meetings, intended to help members expand their bank of language. In this case, the controversial word was EXORDIUM, which is another way to call the introduction or preamble of a story.
One can test one’s familiarity with some other words presented in our Toastmasters meetings over the years through this test (I used a slightly longer version of it at a recent club meeting); while occasions to include them in daily speech or communication need to watched for, when apropos they should be available options. Correct responses follow below.
- COLLOQUY Is this likely to involve people dealing with each other verbally or in writing?
- CHOCKABLOCK Is this a noun or an adjective?
- BEDAUB Does this verb indicate acting lightly, normally, or excessively?
- ANAMNESIS Does this refer to a physical or to a mental body function?
- GELID In which of the 4 seasons is this adjective most likely to apply?
- IRENIC Does this term relate more to an outcome that’s good or that’s negative?
- GALUMPH Does this verb imply moving slowly, moderately, or quickly?
- EXCOGITATE Does this verb imply a quick response or a more measured one?
- KAIROS Would you be more likely to employ this noun when asking a question, making a decision, or declaring a stalemate?
- RAILLERY Is this more likely to occur among people, with animals, or involving objects?
- CORNUCOPIA Which of the following would apply to this noun: a ‘mother lode’, an ‘angry mob’, or several close calls?
- RISIBLE Is someone exhibiting this behaviour sad, happy, self-absorbed, or angry?
- SCHADENFREUDE Does this noun apply when trying to trick others, enjoying misfortune of others, or feeling wary about others?
- COMITY Is it likely to be a pleasant experience or an unpleasant one if this noun applies?
- PEREGRINE Is someone acting this way more likely to be standing, sitting, or lying down?
- verbally: conversation, or high level discussion (noun)
- adjective: brought close together, very full
- excessively: to smear over, to ornament excessively
- mental: recalling from memory, reminiscence (noun)
- winter: extremely cold, icy
- good: favouring, conducive to peace or moderation (adjective)
- slowly: to move with a heavy, clumsy tread
- measured: think out, devise
- making a decision: an opportune moment for decisive action
- people: good-natured jest or banter (noun)
- mother lode: an abundance
- happy: disposed to laughter, laughable (adjective)
- enjoying misfortune: enjoyment gained by others’ misfortunes
- pleasant: friendly social atmosphere, social harmony
- standing: having a tendency to wander (adjective)