Statistics Saturday: Some Highfalutin Words And Their Better Alternatives


Highfalutin Word Better Alternative
multiple many
compartment bin, box
utilize use, make usable
systematize lose
initiate burn
harbinger warning
transpire distract, confound
adverse anthony
ubiquitous unavoidable
effluvium acetominophen
detrimental trimental [ “de” is here etymologically an intensifier to “trimental” and not, as carelessly assumed, a negation ]
hinder (as in to restrict, limit, or make worse) hinder (as in tuckus)
perpetuate paint
fluctuation fluctoid, inventory
eventuality [ best dropped altogether and never replaced ]
anomalous strawberry-flavored, bumpy, wiggly
dilettante Ben, at it again
fastidious plaid
ostracize ostrich-size
untenable not rounded off

Reference: A History of Mathematical Notations, Florian Cajori.

Franklin P Adams: Monotonous Variety


[ I realized it’d been ages since I last showcased one of the comic verses of Franklin P Adams, and that’s a shame. From Tobogganing On Parnassus once more, then, a bit of griping about writers who search the thesaurus for all the possible ways to indicate someone has spoken. It’s an old and familiar complaint, but FPA brings a wonderful melody to it. ]

Monotonous Variety

(All of them from two stories in a single magazine.)

She “greeted” and he “volunteered”;
    She “giggled”; he “asserted”;
She “queried” and he “lightly veered”;
    She “drawled” and he “averted”;
She “scoffed,” she “laughed” and he
       “averred”;
He “mumbled,” “parried,” and “demurred.”

She “languidly responded”; he
    “Incautiously assented”;
Doretta “proffered lazily”;
    Will “speedily invented”;
She “parried,” “whispered,” “bade,” and
       “mused”;
He “urged,” “acknowledged,” and “refused.”

She “softly added”; “she alleged”;
    He “consciously invited”;
She “then corrected”; William “hedged”;
    She “prettily recited”;
She “nodded,” “stormed,” and “acquiesced” ;
He “promised,” “hastened,” and “confessed.”

Doretta “chided”; “cautioned” Will;
    She “voiced” and he “defended”;
She “vouchsafed”; he “continued still”;
    She “sneered” and he “amended”;
She “smiled,” she “twitted,” and she “dared”
He “scorned,” “exclaimed,” “pronounced,”
       and “flared.”

He “waived,” “believed,” “explained,” and
       “tried”;
    “Commented” she; he “muttered”;
She “blushed,” she “dimpled,” and she
       “sighed”;
    He “ventured” and he “stuttered”;
She “spoke,” “suggested,” and “pursued”;
He “pleaded,” “pouted,” “called,” and
       “viewed.”

           *    *    *

O synonymble writers, ye
    Whose work is so high-pricey.
Think ye not that variety
    May haply be too spicy?
Meseems that in an elder day
They had a thing or two to say.

Franklin P Adams: To a Thesaurus


[ My first selection of poetry from Franklin P Adams seems to have been received well, so let me bring out another piece from Tobogganing on Parnassus. My eyebrow is raised — well, my raising-eyebrow eyebrow is raised — by the spelling of favour, and both “sustention” and “opitulation” are new ones on me, but “meseems”, I like on this first meeting. ]

O precious codex, volume, tome,
    Book, writing, compilation, work
Attend the while I pen a pome,
    A jest, a jape, a quip, a quirk.

For I would pen, engross, indite,
    Transcribe, set forth, compose, address,
Record, submit —– yea, even write
    An ode, an elegy to bless —–

To bless, set store by, celebrate,
    Approve, esteem, endow with soul,
Commend, acclaim, appreciate,
    Immortalize, laud, praise, extol.

Thy merit, goodness, value, worth,
    Expedience, utility —–
O manna, honey, salt of earth,
    I sing, I chant, I worship thee!

How could I manage, live, exist,
    Obtain, produce, be real, prevail,
Be present in the flesh, subsist,
    Have place, become, breathe or inhale.

Without thy help, recruit, support,
    Opitulation, furtherance,
Assistance, rescue, aid, resort,
    Favour, sustention and advance?

Alas! Alack! and well-a-day!
    My case would then be dour and sad,
Likewise distressing, dismal, gray,
    Pathetic, mournful, dreary, bad.

Though I could keep this up all day,
    This lyric, elegiac, song,
Meseems hath come the time to say
    Farewell! Adieu! Good-by! So long!