The Words We Use Reveal How We See Our World: What Do Your Words Say About You?

You know how some conversations have a way of sticking with you? You’ll wake up re-living it in the middle of the night. Or something someone says later makes you think of it? Such a conversation happened to me in class the other day.

A participant in one of my business writing workshops was talking about getting a very expensive speeding ticket. He said “they” were going to charge him several hundred dollars, and that “they” were creating a real hardship for him.

The strangest thing happened. While I heard, and understood every word he said, I also heard my mother, in the background, saying to a four-year-old me, “If you do (whatever it was I should not do) you’ll have to pay the consequences.”

And while the “consequences concept” was a bit murky in my developing vocabulary, I sure as anything knew I did not want to have to pay for them! So what does consequences mean?

This is the point where the conversation kept coming back to me. I asked a number of friends and colleagues what they thought consequences meant. With about a 50-50 split, some thought consequences were punishments. Others thought they were the results of an action (e.g. speeding), or a happening (e.g., a flood).

“Consequences” is a word very much like “criticism.” Both words carry negative connotations for many, and in fact “consequences” is frequently used interchangeably with “punishment,” while “criticism” is often considered to be something negative expressed about someone or something. It’s true that this can be one meaning, but criticism is also “the activity of making careful judgments about the good and bad qualities of books, movies, etc.” So criticism can be good, too.

Let’s take a deeper look at the difference between “consequences,” and  “punishment.”

Again, thank you Merriam-Webster. It sounds to me like the critical difference between these two words is who does what. For example, punishment is “… A penalty inflicted on an offender…” (presumably by an outside source). On the other hand, a consequence is “… Something that happens as a result of a particular action or set of conditions…”  (This could easily be an action done by the person who experiences the consequence(s).

So, a consequence could be a punishment. And a punishment could be a consequence. But not necessarily. We’ve all done things we’ve regretted – sometimes with unexpected, or unintended consequences. Sometimes knowing exactly what consequences to expect. And getting them.

Back to the point: Words create the way we look at our world, and telegraph how we see ourselves relating to it. A consequence may be a punishment – expected or not – that naturally follows some action that in many cases we have control over, and have chosen to do anyway. It is not always something that “they” inflict on us. Frequently we have chosen to bring down the consequence on ourselves.

What do the words we use say about us?

Is every consequence inflicted on us by someone else? A punishment? Or is each of us responsible for some of our own consequences – good and bad?

Sometimes things just happen, with no one responsible, and with no one at fault. How we understand our words, and how we use them can indeed determine how we see these things. What do our words say about our view of the world, and our place in it? Do we accept appropriate responsibility? Or do we see ourselves as victims? What secrets do our words reveal about us?

 

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

If this blog post would be useful to your team, please forward it, or drop us an email, and we’ll send them next week’s post for you automatically.

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Here’s One Quick Way to Build Your Vocabulary

While it’s not quite 100%, many strange or new words contain secret clues as to what that word is trying to tell you. By knowing the parts the unfamiliar word is composed of, we can frequently figure out the meaning quite easily.

For example, let’s take a look at two words: malware, and malabsorption. Would you like to have either one? I don’t think so! Even though a word may not be an everyday word, we can look at those two words, and get the idea that neither one is very good. In fact, we most likely get the idea that they may be pretty bad. Why? Because of that little prefix “mal.” Why? Because most of the words we do know that begin with “mal,” mean “bad.”

We’ve talked about suffixes and prefixes in earlier posts, and will again. Today let’s take a look at word parts that indicate sections of the human body.

For example: You make a Dr. appointment with a gastroenterologist. Why? Probably because you have a stomach problem. We know that from the “gastro” beginning to this word. “Gastro” has to do with the stomach. So let’s take a quick look at other word parts and see how they relate to the various sections of your body.

How many of these word parts do you know? Test Yourself. Print out this page and write the answers in the blank space following each word. Or just write the answers on a blank sheet of paper.

glos

hema

man

neur

card

corp

dent

derm

osteo

ped

pneuma

psych

How did you do? Here are the answers, using Merriam-Webster as our authority:

glos:  tongue

Glos actually means tongue, comes from the New Latin, and was first used in 1879.

hema:  blood

May also be spelled in “British English” as haema- and is used to form a number of words referring to blood. For example, hematology – a medical science dealing with blood and blood-forming organs. Or, hematocrit, one of the scores you see from your blood tests.

man:  hand

Used in a long string of words, generally referring to “of or relating to using the hands.”

neur:  nerve

First used as a medical term meaning “of, relating to, or affecting a nerve or the nervous system” around 1847.

card:  heart

“Card” brings us words like “cardiac,” “cardiogram,” and “cardiograph,” the machine that produces the cardiogram – all related to the heart.

corp:  body

Anyone who has ever watched a detective movie or program is well aware of what a “corpse” is. And a corpus can be a body of work, such as writings, speeches, and collections of art. “Corp” has been used as a basis for words relating to body since the 15th century, and comes from Middle English, from Latin.

dent:  tooth

Here’s an easy one. We’re all familiar with the words “dentist,” “dental,” and “dental technician.” So when we combine “dent” with the suffixes “ist,” and “al,” the combination gives us “dentist” – one who works with teeth, and “dental” – relating to teeth or to the work dentists or technicians do.

derm:  skin

And so we have “dermatitis,” a skin condition combining “skin” with “inflammation.” Or dermabrasion, a skin treatment involving skin abrasion. Or dermatologist, the physician specializing in skin conditions.

osteo:  bone

Osteoarthritis, osteomyelitis, and osteomalacia are all diseases of the bone. While we might not recognize these words, or know exactly what they mean, we can make a pretty good guess that they are bone-related.

ped:  foot

This one is not so consistent, but is a good starting point that gives us foot-related words such as pedal, pedicab, and pedicure.

pneuma:  breathe

Standing alone, “pneuma” comes from the Greek and means “soul,” or “spirit,” which is not such a stretch to  “pneumatology,” the study of spiritual beings or phenomena. From there to air, which gives us “pneumatic,” or using air pressure to move or work, and on to respiration, or breathing. And to words like “pneumonia,” a serious illness that makes it difficult to breathe.

psych:  mind

Lots of new words have crept into our lexicon, based on “psych” – all having to do with the mind. “Psych-out”; “psych,”as in preparing oneself for mental processes and activities; or “psycho.” The more traditional use is for words like psychology (the study of the mind and behavior); or psychiatry (a branch of medicine concerned with mental or emotional disorders).

Bottom line: Look for the secrets in unfamiliar words, and you’ll make pretty good guesses as to what the word means, especially if it makes sense in the context of the sentence.

 

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

If this blog post would be useful to your team, please forward it, or drop us an email, and we’ll send them next week’s post for you automatically.

We appreciate your inquiries and referrals.

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Let’s Declare a National “Just Because” Day

A friend and I were having lunch the other day. As we were settling comfortably into the booth, we both started talking at once – and has this ever happened to you – we were talking about the same thing!

That “thing” we were talking about was (can you guess?) everything we still had to get done before the 2017 holidays! The cards that didn’t get written, the party that hasn’t happened, the turkey soup broth waiting in the freezer (let’s see, 2017? Or was that 2016?) and the omigosh – the gifts that still need to be wrapped and mailed!

So, we agreed, there is one simple, practical answer: a National “Just Because” Day – the day we celebrate our readiness for the holiday – last year’s, or this year’s, take your choice.

This will be the day we mail our holiday cards, with party invitations enclosed. The day (or evening) we can take our time, trying to figure out how to use the machines in the post office lobby to mail those packages after the post office has closed, without holding up the holiday mailing line! The day we decide that broth will probably hold in the freezer for a while longer.

The day we take a deep breath, and realize that the point of all of this has been to let customers and prospects, friends and family know we care about them – at any time of the year, and not just at the holidays.

So any day can be our National “Just Because” Day, and we can celebrate any way we would like to, and without explanation of how busy we were (they probably were, too, and may not have noticed they did not get a card from us this year); or apology. We can contact them any time “just because,” and not need the excuse of a special holiday to keep in touch.

How about sending along a clipping on a subject you may have discussed, or that you know would interest him or her; or a birthday or congratulations card; or just a note to say hello, via postal mail. It shows greater respect and appreciation if you take the time to send a quick hand-written note.

This sort of message is far less intrusive, and less time-consuming for the reader. Added bonus: Because so few people will take the time it takes to mail with the postal service, your message carries more weight. This is not to say that these types of messages cannot also be sent electronically to keep in touch, but your “Just Because” holiday is a special time, for a special message.

Caution: Don’t overload your reader. Especially for the business reader, be appropriate and professional at all times, with all contact. It is generally not a good idea to send non-business related material to a business email address. Non-personalized “form letters” and advertising messages may be useful when appropriate, but maybe not this time.

We’d love to hear your “Just Because” Day plans. How will you kick back, recover from the holidays, and let your clients and prospects, friends and family, know you appreciate them?

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

If this blog post would be useful to your team, please forward it, or drop us an email, and we’ll send them next week’s post for you automatically.

We appreciate your inquiries and referrals.

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Use Your Words to Create Your Actions

Let’s start with a seasonal example. Have you made your new year’s resolutions, or have you made your new year’s intentions?

Does it really matter? As my favorite morning radio host proclaimed, fewer than half of the population does either, and of those who do, most will be over it in just a few months. How discouraging!

So how do you put your words to work for you? By thinking about the choice carefully, noting, in this case, the level of commitment; the determination called for. A “resolution” says you will do it. A resolution means commitment.

An “intention,” according to my Webster’s, “implies little more than what one has in mind to do or bring about….” An intention gives you some wiggle room. You can “mean to,” but somehow it doesn’t get done.

Let’s look at another example. You invite a friend for dinner at 6 p.m. tomorrow night. He says, “I’ll try.” So how many places will you set at your table? “Try” is another one of those words lacking commitment – maybe he’ll be there, and maybe not. But if he accepts, “Yes, I’ll be happy to come,” you can safely set a place for him.

Watch out for how you use “weasel words” – the ones that leave you wiggle room – if you want to make it happen.

Here are a couple of common phrases that can make a real difference in how you feel at the end of the day.

The words and phrases you use when you are asked to perform a task on the job can make a very real difference in how you feel at the end of the day. So often we say something like, “I can’t get to that until Wednesday,” perhaps reinforcing, or even creating an “overwhelmed” feeling. A loss of control. How much better could you feel at the end of the day if you reply, “I can have that for you by Wednesday.” There’s a sentence that puts you right back on top: You are indeed in charge!

Note: This slight change of wording not only relieves that overwhelmed feeling, and gives you a “great attitude” reputation, but also positions you as a competent, capable achiever! (Of course you will have to deliver, so remember to check your schedule first.)

How about the phrase we hear so often: “I’ll have to….” Now there’s a phrase that will have your tired out and dragging by the end of the day! Think of hearing yourself say, many, many times a day, “I’ll have to…” “I’ll have to…” “I’ll have to….” It’s exhausting just to contemplate! But how about saying, “I’ll be glad to…” and setting up reasonable expectations?

Finally, let’s think of a way to reduce your frustration level. You know, when you ask someone for something, and don’t get so much as an acknowledgement of your request?

When you are making a request, ask. Just ask. Don’t explain why (unless it’s part of what you’re asking for, or about). Too much information can lead to more frustration and lost time for you, along with the end result that there’s a good possibility your request will be laid aside for later consideration by your reader. Make it easy for your reader to get back to you. Like requesting a response typed into the body of the email, in a different color, so that your reader will not have to compose a new email, a complete response, or even a complete sentence! The easier the better.

 

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

If this blog post would be useful to your team, please forward it, or drop us an email, and we’ll send them next week’s post for you automatically.

We appreciate your inquiries and referrals.

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Writing Questions Answered!

So here we are, almost at the end of the twelve days of Christmas. The gifts, the wrapping, and the leftovers have pretty much been enjoyed, put away, and consumed.

And we’re thinking about what 2018 will bring – and perhaps even making some resolutions, or thinking about unfinished 2017 business: Things we accomplished (give yourself a pat on the back!), things to finish up, and things to follow up on.

Time to clear the head, and get started on 2018 without the “mental leftovers.” Here are three tips you might find useful:

  1. Check into those words that you just haven’t had time to look up, or words that you mean to work into a conversation – written or spoken, but just haven’t gotten around to yet, if ever.

But here’s a word of caution from a real word lover: Consider your reader, consider your words. For clarity, select words your reader will be sure to understand. Too many “vocabulary words” frequently cause confusion, maybe frustration, and generally cause the reader to quit reading. These words can also create an undesirable “show off,” or “put down” tone you may not be aware of, or want to create with one group of readers, while other readers will love them! Know your reader.

That being said, words are great fun – check your word list just for your own pleasure and to add to your own understanding. At the very least, you will be able to clear your mind of the question marks and gain new confidence – whether you ever use those words or not!

  1. Try “punching up” the words you use, to add color, interest, or importance to what you are saying. As ever, consider your reader. For homogenous groups, certain words and phrases will work well, while “outsiders” may not relate.

For a mixed readership, which is frequently the case, it’s probably best to work with words or phrases that are commonly known and used. For example, to make “occasional” more important, how about “once-in-a-lifetime” (assuming it’s true) – or?

  1. Become aware of common grammatical errors you may not know you are making and gradually fix them. For quickest results, focus on them one at a time.

Week one, you may want to focus on keeping your commas and periods inside of the quotation marks (“ ,” or “.”) and the colons and semicolons outside of the quotation marks (“  “: or “  “;).

Week two, you may want to continue this focus, and add the question mark and the exclamation point, which also go outside of the quotation marks, unless they are part of the quotation.

To test yourself on the most common grammatical or usage errors you may not know you are making, go to http://www.gailtycer.com/quiz.html

That’s enough for one week. Let me know how you are doing!

 

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

If this blog post would be useful to your team, please forward it, or drop us an email, and we’ll send them next week’s post for you automatically.

We appreciate your inquiries and referrals.

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How to Say Thank You

The holidays are pretty much over. Have you finished writing your thank you notes?

The rule in our house was that you had to write your thank you note before you played with your gift. Most children had – and still would have – trouble seeing this as a humane edict.

Never mind the hours childless Aunt Jenny, who had no clue, spent shopping for just the right gift. Forget the hours Uncle Elmo stood in line to make sure that perfect gift was mailed on time. We wanted it now! All we wanted was to enjoy the results, and ignore the effort someone else had made for us.

And many children grew up with that same attitude firmly in mind. Now – can you just think how positively you could be thought of when you recognize and appreciate what someone else has done for you – in the business situation? Not only is it the right thing to do, but it defines your character in the frequently “me first” world of business.

We’re not talking here about “form” thank you letters, printed postcards, or even the thank you letter that offers an additional discount on future work purchases. These are blatant advertising, not thank you’s. Neither are we talking texts, emails, or quick phone calls – although, I must confess, I really am very happy to receive such acknowledgment and appreciation from the younger members of the family. But a hand-written thank you note? The epitome of delight! And my favorites all do it.

But if you can’t find your note cards, better an email, a text, or that quick phone call than nothing!

If you’re really serious about expressing your appreciation in the business situation, you’ll want to send a hand-written note, with a personalized message just for your reader, through the US mail. Very few people – perhaps none – will take the time, or make the effort, to hand-write such a thank you. Stand up, stand out, and be the one who does!

 

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

If this blog post would be useful to your team, please forward it, or drop us an email, and we’ll send them next week’s post for you automatically.

We appreciate your inquiries and referrals.

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Words, Words, Words

My father loved words.

Some of my very earliest memories are of talking with him about words and what each one meant. Later on, after I was in school, I brought home words for discussion, and invariably got one of two reactions: (1) “Wash your mouth out with soap!” or (2) “Let’s look it up – just for fun!”  So there you are. I grew up in a family that was so dysfunctional we thought reading the dictionary was fun!

And I still do.

Of course we all use the dictionaries and the helpful reference materials on our computers nowadays, but I still find myself in the reference departments of my favorite bookstores, reverently paging through each and every dictionary on the shelf. There’s nothing quite like the feel of the paper in your hands when you are trying to place them on just the right word with just the right meaning. So, in the spirit of the season and with thanks to my dad, I’d like to share three words with you: Gratitude, Joy, and Peace.

First of all, thank you for being a faithful reader each week, and for liking and commenting on these posts. I am grateful  (from the Latin).

Second, to wish you all the joys of this holiday season (from Middle English, Old French, and of course, from Latin).

And third, wishing you a peaceful time with your family, friends, and loved ones (from Middle English, Old French, and Latin).

Words express ideas – how fascinating that these three ideas have been around for so long, and in so many places over so many years. And these are only the places the dictionary tells us about! I wonder…

Now stretch what the dictionary has to say about these words to include synonyms, (from middle English, old French, Latin, and Greek!) or words that mean about the same thing.

How many ways can you think of to say grateful? Appreciative? Thankful? Pleasing (an original meaning)?

Or joy: Happy? Ecstatic? Great pleasure?

And how about peace? The absence of war? Freedom from quarrels or disagreement? Harmonious relationships?

Let your mind wander. When you’re brushing your teeth or washing  dishes, think of a word. Think of how many ways you could say that word. Consider the slight variations of meaning between each of the words you might use. Under which circumstances would each be appropriate? Effective? More precise? Clearer?

Perhaps you are a word lover too.  And so, with gratitude and wishes for joy and peace, Happy holidays!

 

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

If this blog post would be useful to your team, please forward it, or drop us an email, and we’ll send them next week’s post for you automatically.

We appreciate your inquiries and referrals.

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Effective Email Structure for All Four Types of Email

How your email is structured – how it is presented, organized, and what it looks like – is critical to how your reader “gets it” – or not.

While various types of online business writing are done, let’s focus on the differences between traditional paper, and email writing: format, length, and tone.

Format can be an issue. If you are part of an intranet, it is likely, in fact even probable, that the screens of all the computers on that intranet will be set the same. This will not be true for emails going to computers outside of your intranet. So if your email is format-dependent, it will be a good idea to send it as a pdf attachment.

How about length? The maximum length for an email should be not more than one-and-a-half to two screens. Any more than that is too hard on most readers’ eyes. The result of this can be an almost imperceptible eye irritation that may result in a not-so-imperceptible reader irritation – definitely not what you’re looking for.

Tone, always a critical element in any written communication, is especially important in an informal communication like email. “Tone” is the relationship the writer establishes or reinforces with the reader.

There are four types of email:

  1. The original
  2. The reply
  3. The cover letter
  4. An attachment

The original may be a very short message, requiring a very short answer. The original will be most effective if the first paragraph follows the who-what-when-where-why-how formula, and when you do this, you will most likely also reduce the number of emails in the string.

The reply to the original may also be very short. Depending on the amount of detail required for a complete answer, it may also be very helpful to use the who-what-when-where-why-how formula to reduce the number of questions going back and forth on this subject. Remember: no more than five lines in that first paragraph.

The cover letter for an attachment is an important, but frequently-overlooked option. The writer will forge ahead, saying everything he or she has to say in the email. This often results in a multi-screen email that increases the odds of misunderstanding, or even lack of understanding on the reader’s part. If your email will be more than one-and-a-half to two screens, “attach” it, and use a who-what-when-where-why-how cover letter.

An attachment may be as long as you need it to be. The first paragraph of each section, assuming there will be more than one section, should also be a who-what-when-where-why-how paragraph.

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

If this blog post would be useful to your team, please forward it, or drop us an email, and we’ll send them next week’s post for you automatically.

We appreciate your inquiries and referrals.

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Tip of the Week: Forming Plurals; Bonus: The Six Steps to Easier Spelling

Saw a sign the other day for a fundraising “sausage and pancake’s” breakfast, and thought about how often plural words are confused with plural possessive words. The easy way to remember the difference is that plural words – unless they are plural possessive words – do not have an apostrophe. The apostrophe is only used for possessive words – plural or singular, or for contractions.

A “singular” is one, while a “plural” is more than one. Generally, to form a plural, add an “s.” There are some exceptions:

  •  To words ending in a consonant plus “y,” drop the “y” and add “ies.”
  •  To words ending in a consonant plus “o” or to words ending in “x,” “s,” “z,” “ch,” or “sh,” add “es.”

So, for example, “uncle” becomes “uncles“; “company” becomes “companies“; and “Jones” becomes “Joneses.”

  • You could have one uncle, or six uncles.
  • You could talk about one company, or eight companies.
  • Your friend could be Joe Jones, and his family would be the Joneses.

Note: There are a few words that change in the plural form, e.g., woman becomes women; man becomes men; child becomes children.

Did you notice that when you are making a plural word, you do not use an apostrophe?

Bonus: The Six Steps to Easier Spelling

  1. Read more. The eye recognizes words by their shapes. Have you ever looked at a word and said, “That just doesn’t look right”? Train your eye by reading more, so that it recognizes the shapes of correctly spelled words more readily.
  2. Develop a “hit list.” As you are reading, keep a pen and paper at your elbow. When you see a word that doesn’t look like it is correctly spelled, make a note of it to check out with the dictionary later. If the word is correctly spelled, put it on your “hit list.” You can also add unfamiliar words to your list.
  3. Obtain a pad of self-stick notes. There are usually about 20-25 sheets to a 2 ½” or 3” pad.
  4. Write the first word on your “hit list” on each sheet in your own handwriting. Work on just one word at a time.
  5. Post those individual sheets everywhere. On the mirror, by the coffee pot, on the front door, on the back door, on the refrigerator, and – well, you get the idea.
  6. Leave the sheets up for 24 to 48 hours, then remove them.

Follow these six steps, and the correct spelling is yours!

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

If this blog post would be useful to your team, please forward it, or drop us an email, and we’ll send them next week’s post for you automatically.

We appreciate your inquiries and referrals.

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Test Yourself: Are You a Word Cognoscente?

A few weeks ago, you challenged yourself to pick out the grammar, spelling, and usage errors in a group of sample sentences. (Love a Challenge? Test  Yourself – Just for Fun) Thank you for your email – seems we struck a chord, and many of you enjoyed the challenge.

So let’s do it again! This time let’s take a look at words. For each of the following words, three possible answers are shown. Please select the best answer(s). Here goes:

  1. criticism

a. A negative comment or comments

b. A carefully thought out discussion of both the good and bad points of books, software, movies, and so forth

c. Disapproval of something, or someone

2. sanguine

a. Cheerful, optimistic, confident, hopeful

b. What the singer did, while drinking wine

c. Smart

3. apologist

a. Someone who says, “I’m sorry”

b. A NASA scientist

c. Someone who defends, supports, writes or speaks about something that is being criticized or attacked by someone else

4. decimate

a. A process used in mathematics

b. To destroy a large part

c. A way to classify books in the library

  1. egregious

a. Extremely bad, and readily noticed

b. A type of omelet

c. A skin rash

  1. spatial

a. A cooking utensil

b. Having to do with outer space

c. Something or someone unusual or different in a positive way

  1. clandestine

a. Something done in secret, or in a private place or way

b. A Scottish meeting

c. A future happening

  1. cognoscente

a. A type of Italian liqueur

b. A subject matter expert

c. An exotic perfume

 

ANSWER KEY

  1. criticism

a. A negative comment or comments

b. A carefully thought out discussion of both the good and bad points of books, software, movies, and so forth

c. Disapproval of something, or someone

 Answer: a., b., c.

While we tend to think of “criticism” as being always negative, or disapproving – and it generally is –  “criticism” can also be used, as in b., above, to mean nearly the opposite. So all three answers are correct.

  1. sanguine

a. Cheerful, optimistic, confident, hopeful

b. What the singer did, while drinking wine

c. Smart

Answer:  a.

“Sanguine” actually has a number of meanings, among them is consisting of, or relating to blood, as in bloodthirsty. It can also mean a ruddy complexion, or a blood-red color. First used in the 14th century, synonyms include bloody, homicidal, and murderous.

  1. apologist

a. Someone who says, “I’m sorry”

b. A NASA scientist

c. Someone who defends, supports, writes, or speaks about something that is being criticized or attacked by someone else

Answer: c.

  1. decimate

a. process used in mathematics

b. To destroy a large part

c. A way to classify books in the library

Answer: b.

“Decimate” comes from Latin meaning, “10th,” or “10,” and while it now is most often used to mean to destroy a large part of something, historically it was used to describe the process where every 10th man was selected by lot to be killed, or where a 10th part of something was destroyed. It was also used to mean to extract a tax of 10%.

  1. egregious

a. Extremely bad, and readily noticed

b. A type of omelet

c. A skin rash

Answer: a.

  1. spatial

a. A cooking utensil

b. Having to do with outer space

c. Something or someone unusual or different in a positive way

Answer: b.

“Spacial” is shown as a  “variant of spatial,” and each word has to do with the relationship of objects in space.

  1. clandestine

a. Something done in secret, or in a private place or way

b. A Scottish meeting

c. A future happening

Answer: a.

  1. cognoscente

a. A type of Italian liqueur

b. A subject matter expert

c. An exotic perfume

Answer: b.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this version of “test yourself,” and  – if you’re not already – are well on your way to being a “word cognoscente.”   What are your favorite words?   Let us hear from you.

 

Gail Tycer offers business writing workshops and presentations; executive coaching, consulting, writing, and editing services. Call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com to learn more.

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