In a previous post, I wrote about the value of using simple words in place of complex words. Readers are not impressed by the use of complex words; they’re frustrated by them.
Though I strive to use simple, clear terms in my own writing, there are some words that I am just dying to use. Archaic, unusual words that I have stumbled upon in fiction. Words that have drawn me in. I like the ways these words sound. I like the way they look.
If I could only find a way to work them into my next article on surgical checklists.
Vex. To cause someone to feel annoyed, frustrated, or worried.
Example: You take delight in vexing me by deliberately using bad grammar.
Portmanteau. A large suitcase or trunk that opens into two equal parts.
Example: That portmanteau will not fit in the overhead bin and must be checked.
Naught. Means zero or nothing. It can also mean to ruin, disregard, or despise.
Example: Her behavior tends to set propriety at naught.
Foible. A weakness or eccentricity in someone’s character.
Example: She loved him in spite of his foibles.
Parvenu. A person who has suddenly risen to a higher social or economic class, but who has not gained social acceptance in that class.
Example: He was treated like a parvenu at the country club dinner.
Sentinel. A soldier or guard who keeps watch; to keep guard or watch.
Example: Bennett heard a strange noise and asked the sentinel to stay close.
Moribund. At the point of death; dying.
Example: Kathryn was unsure how to save her moribund career.
Beslobber. To smear with spittle or anything running from the mouth.
Example: In this drunken and beslobbered state, the lieutenant returned to the ship.
Nonplussed. Bewildered or unsure how to respond.
Example: Anna’s hot and cold behavior has left me completely nonplussed.
Loquacious. Means talkative or continually chattering.
Example: Jane was pleased that her new assistant was not particularly loquacious.
Forbear. To refrain or resist; to be tolerant or patient if provoked.
Example: My approach this year has been to forbear and maintain a professional demeanor at all times.
Erudite. An educated or learned person; scholarly with an emphasis on knowledge gained from books.
Example: “Not everything is in your books,” Steve told his erudite friend.
Mellifluous. Means smooth or sweet and is generally used to describe a person’s voice, tone, or writing style.
Example: Patrick O’Brian’s style is best described as mellifluous, sweeping the reader along from the first words.
Redolent. Fragrant or sweet smelling; strongly reminiscent or suggestive of something.
Example: These words are redolent of earlier times, when language was more formal.
Denouement. The final resolution of a story or a complex series of events.
Example: Will the denouement be explosive or serene?
Readers, any words you wish you could use?
Laura Hale Brockway writes about writing at impertinentremarks.com.