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Laura on Life

A Few Words...
By Laura Snyder
Mar 28, 2012 - 7:03:05 AM

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Over my writing career, I have assembled a list of words that I feel should never be used in a column. I could have said that in my spare time, I peruse my dictionary looking for strange words. It would have been more interesting, but I would have been paltering. I found that word in my Thesaurus under "lie."

I may be displaying my ignorance to my readers, but I think that you will agree why the words shouldn't be used once you read my explanations.

First and foremost, I will not use words that are science-related or in Latin. If you merely thought I might be ignorant or uncultured, my incorrect use of Latin or scientific words would confirm it.

I once found another word for twilight - that beautiful, peaceful time of day about which many poems are written - is "crepuscule." Since the accent here is on "pus," simply by using that word, I would totally obliterate the beautiful, peaceful scene I was attempting to portray.

Some time ago, I was looking for another word for idiot, because it is rude to call your husband names. Under "idiot" in my Thesaurus is "flibbertigibbet." I would never use that word in a column... maybe. Okay, I would never call my husband a flibbertigibbet. It does not carry the desired emotion.

There are a few words that I wouldn't use simply because they sound like they could be obscene.

Erubescence sounds like a teenager is erupting in erotic pubescence. Actually it is a blush, which is what one might do if the meaning was misconstrued.

If your college student calls and announces that he is switching majors, again - to Horology - do not be concerned. Horology is the science of measuring time. It has nothing to do with street walkers.

This word ends with -ology, though, so I won't be using it anyway.

I won't be using hornswoggle either due to the suggestive nature of the word; however harmless its meaning. It means to bamboozle, which is a word I might use... many times.

Last, but not least, of the obscene-sounding words is billabong. I don't know what this is. It's probably something scientific or Latin. I apologize if I have offended anyone.

There are other words I won't use just on principle. For example: Nootka. A Nootka is a British Columbian Indian. Its definition covers three continents... and they don't inhabit any of them. That's just wrong.

I won't use larnix... um, lairnyx?... well, I won't use it because I can't spell it. I'm simply being practical.

Patulous means spreading or expanding... like my derriere. Why would you use patulous when you can use spreading or expanding? By the way, derriere means bottom, seat, posterior, rump or rear end, according to my Thesaurus when I looked up "butt." You can understand why I used "derriere." It sounds classier.

Well, it looks as though I have paltered. It seems I have indeed used my collection of words that should not be used in a column. I'm sorry. I did not mean to bamboozle you.

Perhaps the context is wrong, but I just love that word! Bamboozle! Bamboozle! Bamboozle!

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website for more info.

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