Show some love for neglected expressive words

Neglected wordsWhat knavery is this? With so many words at our disposal, we’re ditching some perfectly delightful and expressive words. Wayne State University, for one, is having none of it.

Each year, the university’s Word Warriors column lists the top 10 words “that deserve to be used more often in conversation and prose,” drawing attention to “some of the English language’s most expressive — yet regrettably neglected — words.”

I love the spirit of the idea, and great words like knavery (a roguish or mischievous act), which made the 2015 list, and rumpus (a noisy, confused or disruptive commotion), from the 2016 list. The site includes the full list of words that deserve wider use, including such gems as boondoggle (“work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value”) and cahoots (partnership, collusion or collaboration, often with nefarious implications”).

I’m not as fond of confusing or overly complicated words that make readers say, “What?”  Examples are obambulate (walk about) and concatenation (a chain of events), where the meaning in brackets is a better way of saying it. Shades of saying utilize when a simple use will do.

Like the idea? You can submit words you think “especially worthy of retrieval from the linguistic closet.” No slang, jargon, offensive, truly obscure or recently invented words, nor words in fairly common use. Don’t forget the definition.

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