WORD LISTS

Words for "Language Junkies"

March 25, 2014
Is it possible to take vocabulary expansion too far? A piece in the Wall Street Journal points out the situations where word knowledge can work against you. True sesquipedalians, or "word nerds" need to be careful of the words they chose lest they alienate people they're trying to impress, or just render themselves incomprehensible.

Just for fun, we've rounded up the offending words quoted in the Journal piece, into a List for "Language Junkies." Whether you relish these words or think of them as ones to avoid, it's fun to look them over, add them to your learning at Vocabulary.com.
ebullient
Dotcom, a large, ebullient German national with New Zealand residency, could not be reached for comment.
Reuters (Mar 25, 2014)
innocuous
Insects live near us, with us and on us, innocuous roommates in our urban dwellings – a veritable natural history museum in our homes.
New York Times (Mar 20, 2014)
malodorous
Glenda Richmond, 70, spoke of violations in her senior building, including roach, mouse, and bedbug infestations, malodorous garbage, and a lack of wheelchair access.
prevaricate
And while Britain has prevaricated on airport expansion, Amsterdam now has six runways.
BBC (Feb 1, 2013)
sagacious
He was a daring and sagacious researcher, indefatigable in his quest for information.
Scientific American (Aug 24, 2012)
ignominious
The bank's 23,000 employees might need cheering up, given its ignominious fall from grace several years ago.
BBC (Jan 17, 2014)
fastidious
Mr. Guiraudie’s camera never moves beyond the lake and records the passage of time with fastidious precision.
New York Times (Jan 23, 2014)
esoteric
This sort of vocabulary question would replace the more esoteric version on the current SAT.
New York Times (Mar 6, 2014)
penultimate
She outlasted George, the penultimate survivor of her species and her only companion, by four years.
New York Times (Feb 27, 2014)
non sequitur
And now the article has been edited and my comment looks like a non sequitur.
Seattle Times (Mar 25, 2014)
didactic
And their presence in a larger saga can whip a plodding, didactic tale into something rich and vivid.
Time (Mar 16, 2014)
circumlocution
We encourage candor to the point of tactlessness: No circumlocution, no fancy rhetoric, no beating around the bush.
Forbes (Mar 29, 2013)
perspicacious
Delivered economically, her judgments are not only clever but perspicacious, humane, and, for the most part, convincing.
Slate (Apr 5, 2013)
remunerative
Corporate salaries, while enabling a very comfortable lifestyle for those near the top, were far less remunerative than in later years.
Salon (Nov 24, 2012)
sesquipedalian
He was indebted to a ruse of Aunt Margaret for his historic and sesquipedalian name.
Spalding, Henry S.
vicissitude
Despite its expansion, Poland hasn’t been totally shielded from the vicissitudes of the business cycle.
BusinessWeek (Nov 27, 2013)
perfidious
That overarching sense of Pakistan being a “perfidious partner” has narrowed the willingness of Washington to entertain Pakistani concerns in the wider region.
Time (Jul 3, 2012)

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Comments from our users:

Wednesday March 26th, 2:21 AM
Comment by: Audrey W. (Scottsdsle, AZ)
I never thought of the above words as pompous, just more emphatic;however,it is true that they can sound ludicrous
when used for simple statements.
Wednesday March 26th, 6:35 AM
Comment by: Edward H. (Hatton United Kingdom)
The key is surely whether the simpler word has precisely the same meaning. Using a particular word to give a subtlety to your language is justified, I think, unless you're sure your listeners just won't get it anyway.

So, for example, "esoteric" is fine as it doesn't really have a simpler synonym whereas "wise" is a perfectly adequate replacement for sagacious.

Of course, some $50 words are just more mellifluous. That's a good excuse too.
Wednesday March 26th, 10:43 AM
Comment by: lourdes (PA)
Ah perspicacious... I still have trouble with this word and perspicuous! Using Vocabulary.com made me a word nerd, perhaps so.

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