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Top 10 words you should use more in 2013

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Every year Wayne State University publishes a list of words that it says “deserve to be used more often in conversation and prose.” Here is the fifth annual “Wayne State’s Word Warriors” list, promoting words that are “most expressive yet regrettably neglected,” the Word Warriors Web site says. The definition appears first, followed by a sentence in which the word is used.

Rubbish; nonsense; empty or misleading talk.
What a relief to have the election over — that great festival of buncombe that so distracted the nation for months.

The blue of the sky.
Her eyes were a clear, deep cerulean blue, like no eyes Trevor had ever seen, and looking into them made him feel lighter than air, as though he could fly, but even if he could have flown he would have stayed where he was, content just to look.

Like a turtle (and who doesn’t like turtles?).
Weighed down by bickering and blather, the farm bill crept through Congress at a chelonian pace.

To compel by coercion; to force someone to do something they’d rather not.
After working in the yard all day, Michael was dragooned into going to the ballet instead of flopping down to watch the Red Wings on TV.

Extreme anxiety, distress, nervousness or irritability.
Jeremy’s love of islands was tempered by the fact that driving over high bridges always gave him the raging fantods.

Excessively sentimental; sappy; hopelessly trite.
To her surprise, Beth found Robert’s words of love to be so mawkish that they made her feel sticky, as though she were being painted with molasses.

To talk aimlessly, often at great length; rarely, it means simply to converse.
You can tell our staff meetings are winding down when everybody starts nattering about their kids.

Banter; frivolous talk.
Emma hoped to get Lady Astor into a serious conversation, but as long as the King was around she could elicit only persiflage and gossip.

Literally, a cave-dweller. More frequently a backward, mentally sluggish person.
Susan felt she could have saved the company if only the troglodytes in management had taken her advice.

To pry out or extract something; from the process of removing the snail from an edible periwinkle.
Jack showed no inclination to leave his seat beside Alice, but Roger was determined to winkle him out of that chair no matter what it took.

How do words get on the list?

People around the world send in submissions, as do administrators of the Word Warriors Web site, where new entries are posted weekly. There is also a handy page that allows you to nominate your own word for the annual 10-best list.

Why do this? The Web site quotes Jerry Herron, dean of WSU‘s Irvin D. Reid Honors College and a member of the Web site’s editorial board, as saying: “The English language has more words in its lexicon than any other. By making use of the repertoire available to us, we expand our ability to communicate clearly and help make our world a more interesting place. Bringing these words back into everyday conversation is just another way of broadening our horizons.”

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · January 18, 2013

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