Last weekend, I read a leader in the Economist praising short words. The amazing thing about it was that it used only short words — words of one syllable — for about 500 words and it came across as wonderfully written. At the same time, I bemoan the loss of some of the texture of English; we have a rich palette of words to choose from, yet find ourselves often resorting to “stuff,” and “thing,” and repeating the clichés of our peers. Microsoft in particular has its own language — one of acronyms and software development and marketing buzzwords. Sometimes, we use wonderful words like canonical and orthogonal with great acuity. Sometimes, however, we fall back on stock phrases about “laser-like focus” and “driving to results.” Sometimes, we discover odd new words like “ideation.” But rarely do we pull from the rich colors of the English language tapestry.
So, this week, I embarked on a mission to use underused words in my daily emails. So far, I have managed to characterize the magnitude of a problem as “Brobdingnagian,” and have worked “pecuniary” into another email, plus dropped in “defenestrate” and “fecund” to a conversation. I look forward to your suggestions for other underrepresented words that I can weave in. No obscenities please.