And when was the last time you said "Pyrrhic"?

Often-read, but rarely-heard words.

Those weighty polysyllables that crop up so often in text, but which you've probably never heard being spoken aloud. Do they occur because of the potentially difficult pronunciations? Or is it because they are so...unwieldy? Is it just one of those differences between the written and the spoken language? Do pink turtles float on isotonic rainbows?

The Muse of Writing claims it's a mark of how lazy the tongue is, throws in a snippet or two about shortening attention spans, and then mocks the entire concept of accents. The Muse of Speech scoffs that such fanciful words were only invented by writers to fluff out their output, and which they use as a tool to expand their literary pretensions, knowing that using them on a face-to-face basis would expose them as silly little poseurs.

Then the Muse of Language asks whether it really matters, and demands to be passed the orange-scented hot chocolate.

Anyways, a short list of some of the more common examples -

(and, of course) Pyrrhic

More oddities to mull about. Add your own.


Revealed said...

You've obviously never hung out with scientists!! I've used (and heard used) antediluvian, supercilious, affable, didactic, dissemination, utilitarian...regularly! They're perfectly delish words.

??! said...

anybody who uses antediluvian on a regular basis needs a good dose of...something sane.

Revealed said...

antee-dial-ooviyen. say it with me. it's funnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

??! said...

it may be fun, but the point is...umm...what is the point?

Szerelem said...

Eh, I use some of them quite often.
What does that say about me??

??! said...

eh. ok. one will shut up now. one is obviously in company of wonderful orators.

The Bride said...

I definitely don't think supercilious and affable are in the same league as antediluvian and pyrrhic.

Having worked into finance for the past year, I have been bogged down by jargon. While I scoffed at it initially, I realised that that these terms are like shorthand for what would actually take four or more whole words to explain if spelled out.

The words in the above list are similar. They convey the exact meaning with shades that differentiating them from their most commonly used counterparts (eg - supercilious vs proud, affable vs friendly). I tend to limit my usage because people tend to look at you strangely.

Well Heeled said...


??! said...

you're right. they are "shortening" words, if you like. but this is simply to see how many people actually use them in speech. and yes, nobody likes a big-word-user. sad.

hello. having fun?

Brown Magic said...

What szerelem said.

also add to that - renege, which I do. often. and didactic.

I don't even have a scientists or finance excuse. I just talk like that, which is why I over compensate by peppering all sentences with "like" and "dude". also, "sweet".

troublesome readership you got, eh? won't just play along.

??! said...

troublesome readership you got
nope....an interesting one.

meanwhile, one is sheltering behind the minimalist approach stance.

Revealed said...

@??!: Did you just ask me, madam, what the *point* was? The *point*???!!! I believe I'm insulted. Accusing me of having points!!! Tsk! *walks off huffily, pausing to slam the door*

Chronicus Skepticus said...

You've obviously never hung around with J.A.P. He uses *all* of these AND stuff like 'tatterdemalion' (which I just webster-ed btw).

I *do* use 'execrable', but then I also say 'wow' a lot.

??! said...

What can we say about Jappy-da? He's...Jappy-da.

Revealed said...

He has read Georgette Heyer.

thinker-girl said...

cumbersome, acumen, ostracized...

nice to meet you ??!

u typed inexorable twice btw

Espèra said...

When you can describe practically everything by the line, "That's like, sooo whatever", what's the need of these words?

That's not to say that I use that. But people do. And anytime I use anything more than 2 syllables long (except for words like beautiful, delicious, completely, precisely etc.) they look at me somewhat weird.