Words to Live By

by | February 13, 2023 | General | 1 comment

A group of university professors released a list of words they feel we should use on a regular basis. They’re convinced that the ten words they focused on will make us sound smarter. I’m glad they included definitions, because some of these were unknown to me. Perhaps I didn’t attend the right college.

Just think, my friends—within this blog you’ll find ten words you can use to dazzle people! Drop some of these into your daily discourse and they’ll be positively beaming at your newfound intelligence. Either that, or they’ll wonder which meds you took this morning. Read on.

Acedia – Spiritual or mental sloth; apathy. “When she broke up with him, he fell into a state of acedia and didn’t go out for two months.” I once had the same problem after one of my books didn’t do well.

Anfractuous – Indirect and containing bends, turns or twists; circuitous. “The road to the castle was anfractuous.” I believe this can also apply to the male medical condition known as PED (penile erectile dysfunction), so use it carefully.

Blithering – Senselessly talkative and babbling; used chiefly as an intensive to express annoyance or contempt. “His Twitter posts were the confused ramblings of a blithering fool.” The next time you get a bad book review, at least you’ll know what to call the reviewer.

Bombinate – Buzzing, humming or droning to the point of distraction. “A fly bombinated in the sun porch, making it difficult for John to relax.” Personally, I apply this to the dozen-and-two robocalls I receive every day.

Bucolic – Of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life. “Sitting in his office, Jack felt a twinge of longing for his bucolic childhood on the farm.” I use this same technique, but substitute a sandy beach in Key West.

Effulgent – Shining brightly; radiant; emanating joy or goodness. “Her beauty was enhanced by her effulgent personality.” If I were on the receiving end of this word, I’m not sure how I’d take it.

Gauche – Lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated and socially awkward. “His gauche demeanor made Tom stand out at the party.” See my comment above about book critics.

Guttle – To eat or drink greedily and noisily. “As the man sitting across from her guttled his meal, she knew that the blind date was a mistake.” This could also be applied to Thanksgiving dinner in most families.

Mugwump – A person who remains aloof or independent, especially from party politics. “Ever the mugwump, he refused to take a side in the partisan bickering.” For a real-life example, go back to the last election.

Stultify – Cause to lose enthusiasm and initiative, especially as a result of tedious or restrictive routine. “The stultifying clerical work robbed the young intern of the enthusiasm she’d felt on the first day.” You could also apply this to most publishing contracts.

There you have it. Ten words to a better you through an enhanced vocabulary. Personally, when I write, I tend to shy away from words that necessitate a Google search. I do that on purpose, not because I think my readers are gauche or blithering, but because when I read something with uncommon words, I find the experience stultifying.

I’d like to add some new words I came across. I thought I was fluent enough to write contemporary fiction but after reading these, I’m not so sure.

People are “throwing shade” (saying something nasty or unkind about someone), “dishing tea” (spreading gossip) and “getting punked” (being the victim of a prank). The internet is infested with “trolls” and “memes.” Just when I began to understand the difference between “ghosting” and “gaslighting,” along comes “glamping,” which has nothing to do with the other two. It refers to camping with better accommodations than merely pitching a tent and building a campfire.

I thought “hacking” was something bad people did to you on your computer, but then I discovered it’s now a synonym for a helpful hint. I also learned that musicians no longer release new records, they “drop them.”

And just in time for Valentine’s Day, how about these new dating lingo words?

Benching–The dating version of being on a sports team and waiting for the coach to put you in the game. With dating, it means you’re into someone but not enough to take it to the next level, but you don’t want them hooking up with someone else while you make up your mind. Confusing and inconsiderate? I think so.

Cushioning—Have you ever had a few potential partners just a text away, in case your current relationship doesn’t work out? That’s called cushioning, because you’re making sure you land without hurting yourself too badly. I’ve known people who have used this technique when they had an important function to attend and couldn’t find anyone to accompany them.

ENM (Ethically non-monogamous), or CNM (Consensually non-monogamous). Looking for an open relationship. Translation: Afraid to commit to one person, while trolling for a one-night stand.

Ghosting and Haunting—Ghosting refers to avoiding someone (not answering texts or calls, breaking off all contact, disappearing like a ghost). While this may seem bad enough, Haunting is almost worse. This is when the person cuts off contact, but subtly lets you know that they’re watching you, perhaps in the form of a “like” on Facebook or by following your Instagram story and commenting on it. Stalking, anyone?

To be fair, each generation makes its own contributions to pop culture language. The biggest ones from recent decades were “cool” (still used today), “groovy!” (not heard much since the 60s), “Far out, man!” (another 60s holdover), “Dy-no-mite!” from the 70s, “Totally” and “Well, like, duh!” (a couple of 80s California Girl remnants), and “bad” when it also meant “good” (as in “You’re so bad!”). The same with “sick,” and not like “That was really sick, man, like a dream come true!”

To represent the flip side, I have my own list of words that I wish some people would stop using so often: witch hunt; fake news; misinformation; recount; tweet; very, very bad; terrible, terrible thing; biggest, most awesome ever; stolen.

On a final note, I would like to apply a few words to our elected office holders. You can insert whichever names you want.

“I wish our politicians would be more like mugwumps instead of blithering on social media and bombinating on cable news shows.”

Wow, I feel smarter already!

Tim Smith

Tim Smith is an award-winning bestselling author. His books range from romantic mystery/thriller to contemporary erotic romance. He is also a freelance photographer. When he isn't pursuing those two careers he can often be found in The Florida Keys, indulging his passion for parasailing between research and seeking out the perfect Pina Colada.

1 Comment

  1. lisabet Sarai

    As Gilbert & Sullivan put it, “I presume you may use any language you choose to indulge in, without impropriety.”

    And regarding politicians: “You may put them on the list, you may put them on the list, and they’d none of them be missed…”

    Fun post, Tim!

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