Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Talk Smart and Influence People

Whenever I read John Updike or Joyce Carol Oates, I feel a gnawing sense of inadequacy when I come across words that A) I've never seen before, or 2) I've looked up at least once before and forgotten the definitions. Here are some examples from my recent reading:

exiguous: excessively scanty

exigency: that which is required in a particular situation or a state of affairs that makes urgent demands

desultory: marked by lack of a definite plan or not connected to the main subject or disappointing in progress, performance, or quality

cynosure: one who serves to direct or guide, or the center of attention

sinecure: an office or position that requires little or no work but that usually provides an income

Words like this are beautiful, but, at least among the people I interact with every day, aren't going to come up in conversation very often, even if I could remember them for more than 6 hours.

If you like this sort of thing, check out and their Word a Day section.

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