Thursday, May 9, 2013

Increase Your Vocabulary

I just completed a book entitled To Save Everything Click Here: The Folly of Internet Solutionism by Evgeny Morozov. The book is an excellent examination of how smart technology and big data are used in both revealing and hidden ways in our society today. I will be writing a book review for a later post.
As I read the book, I came across several words that were (1) unfamiliar to me, (2) words that I rarely use, or (3) words that I would like to incorporate (when appropriate) into my writing (e-mails, posts, technical writing, and narratives). I wrote the words on a 4x6 index card (my bookmark of choice) and reviewed the definitions as I encountered the words.
Below are the words that I listed and their definitions. As you read books you will most likely encounter words that are new to you. Of course, it is likely that your list - even if reading this same book - would be different than mine.
ameliorate - to make better or more tolerable
naif - a naive person
effete - having lost character, vitality, or strength; marked by weakness or decadence; soft or delicate from or as if from a pampered existence
interlocutor - one who takes part in dialogue or conversation
bifurcation (bifurcate) - to cause to divide into two branches or parts
preternatural - existing outside of nature; exceeding what is natural or regular; inexplicable by ordinary means
putative - commonly accepted or supposed
pithy - having substance and point
banal - lacking originality, freshness, or novelty
oeuvre - a substantial body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, an artist, or a composer
quixotic - foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals; especially: marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action
hagiography - biography of saints or veneterated persons; idealizing or idolizing biography
vapid - lacking liveliness, briskness, or force
meme - an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. "Meme" seems to be gaining in popularity as I see it frequently in narratives and on Facebook!
eugenics - relating to or fitted for the production of good offspring
nascent - coming or having recently come into existence
ambit - circuit, compass; the bounds or limits of a place or district; a sphere of action, expression, or influence
puerile - juvenile, childish
madeleine - one that evokes a memory
Don't be an effete naif whose puerile, quixotic memes are vapid and banal!
Naturally, your writing must be for your audience. The sentence above is not a natural one for me, but I want to least have some word ammunition ready to use when appropriate or necessary.
I encourage you to expand your vocabulary by creating your own word bank and write down - or at least review - definitions.

All of the definitions above came from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app for the iPhone.

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