This one time, Grace thought she’d become famous.
All it took was a parade. We’d talked in church about joining the Pride Parade a few years ago. Grace heard keywords – parade … ride a float … matching T-shirts! She was stoked. So I explained what the Pride Parade meant.
She remained stoked.
We didn’t end up walking. She went off with the grandparents that day. The conversation happened, though. When I wrote about it, today’s guest poster, Mo of Mocadeaux, chimed in on the CD for the first time.
She spoke of honor and respect and the meaning of “Love thy neighbor.”
A wonderful blogging friendship began that day. Today, Mo’s here as a guest blogger, taking Deb Runs’ Wednesday Word challenge: Plethora. Mo delivers words in a build-up of discourse and intelligence, strung along with wit and wherewithal.
Please welcome Mo, and pay her a visit.
A Plethora of Librarian Words
Plethora is one of my favorite “fancy words.”
I take great pleasure in bandying the word about in conversation. Why say “lots of” something when there is a lovely linguistic alternative? Plethora.
“How will I decide between the plethora of possibilities in choosing toppings for my pizza?”
“Surveying the plethora of items on my to-do list, I decided to take a nap instead.”
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the way in which I had been using the word was not quite right.
Plethora doesn’t simply mean an abundance of something. Oh, no. The bar is much higher than that.
In wine cellars and Pinterest projects
Plethora, in the purest form before its meaning was watered down by know-nothings like me, indicates an OVER-abundance. A supply so great that no one could possibly need or be able to consume the entire lot.
For example, the amount of wine in our wine cellar.
Or, the number of Pinterest suggestion for the use of Mason jars.
My sister was the first person I remember using the word plethora. A brilliant gal with a sweeping vocabulary, she used fancy words effortlessly and always in the proper context.
We called the fancy words she used “librarian words” as an homage to her profession.
A few of our favorites:
Ablution – the process of washing oneself.
One precise word can describe our morning ritual without having to fully disclose the number of steps necessary to go from bed head to fabulous. The details are nobody’s business. Let’s just leave it at ablutions.
Accouterments – additional items of dress or equipment.
Particularly when said in the French way, accouterments sounds so much better than “extra stuff” or “junk”, n’est-ce pas?
Copacetic – fine, satisfactory, OK.
Sure, you could use common terms like “just ducky” or “hunky-dory” but why do that when you have copacetic in your vocabulary toolbox?
Librarian words add sophistication and richness. Often, they describe in one word what a lazy writer would need a paragraph to portray.
How not to sound like a doofus
My brother tells the story of once visiting our sister sporting an irritation on the back of his hand. She sympathetically asked about his little chilblains, knowing the exact single word to use in lieu of:
“painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air.”
(courtesy of mayoclinic.org)
But, in order to be effective, librarian words must be used with full understanding of their meaning. Otherwise you just sound like a doofus.
Let’s take the word prosaic, for instance.
A lovely word, almost melodic.
One might think that prosaic means beautiful – it sure sounds like it, right?
Prosaic actually means commonplace. As in, “It might be pleasant enough to be prose-like but it sure isn’t poetry”.
Now, to me, esoteric sounds like a super-expensive anti-aging cream that is available in teensy-tiny jars, exclusively at a by-appointment-only salon on Rodeo Drive. Something that the rich and famous might use in their ablutions.
At least I’m in the ballpark with that one since esoteric means something that only a select number of people have interest in or understand.
“One could make the argument that forking over $1,000 for one ounce of beauty cream is an esoteric way to spend money.”
Consider the similar-sounding but opposite meaning duo of obsequious and obstreperous.
The classic struggle of angel versus devil. Speaking for myself, I prefer to be around folks who are obsequious (obedient) rather than obstreperous (difficult to control).
Maybe that’s just me.
And finally, to describe people who take the use of librarian words to an extreme, we have:
Sesquipedalianist – A person who tends to use sesquipedalian words. (Don’t you just love it when you have to look up the definition of a word in a definition?)
Translation: A person who tends to use really, really long words.
“With the plethora of librarian words at our disposal, all of us have the opportunity to become sesquipedalianists.”
But, in the words of Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews while discussing another very, very long word in the movie Mary Poppins, that’s going a bit too far, don’t you think?