My friend John O’Toole ( formerly of the US Navy – Petty Officer First Class) used to say, ” having an extensive vocabulary means never searching hard for something that will confuse an officer.” He explained that rather than admitting to ignorance, the typical lieutenant, j.g., will merely act as though they understood and leave you to get on with your work. I found this to be just as accurate among the civilian tribe. Substitute cabaret for lounge, and they get a very different impression of the basement gin mill to which you are taking them.

A farmer’s porch, Stoop, veranda, lanai, or even a texas -that’s an open deck area around a steamboat’s pilothouse- are all kind of the same sort of thing. A place outside for sitting, socializing, and just watching the world go past. But New Englander’s have substituted the term piazza for those. Supposedly this imbues the place where the broken lawnmower sits, with some ricketty furniture into a place of old-world grace.
If untrimmed bushes border your property, you call it a hedge. To those who have never visited your house, you have quickly bolstered the impression from a tawdry row house to a comfortable estate.

My first father-in-law, the Cap’n, laid out for me the distinctions between the sort of courtesy captains that lined the bar at the “yacht club” and actual mariners. To him, it was more than the ability to stay off a reef at low tide in your converted “lobster yacht” and more about the full encompassment of seamanship.

Words are important. But it would be best if you didn’t take them at face value.

4 Replies to “Words”

  1. What a fun look at words. Does making writing interesting when there’s 14 words and 44 other synonyms all meaning more or less the exact same thing!

  2. Yes, words are important. But in my opinion not as important as using them correctly when serious and abusing them often when having fun.

  3. This was fun! I had a friend who always talked about going to another friend’s ‘soiree.’ Oh, you mean party? Who uses ‘soiree’–except for her?!

  4. The first line; ” having an extensive vocabulary means never searching hard for something that will confuse an officer.” cracked me up. The last one- oh so true. 😉

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