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Vaughan's Vocabulary: Looking for just the right word...

August 3, 2010

Recently I was watching a Gunsmoke episode titled “The Jackals” in which Marshal Matt Dillon is pummeled by a group of villagers in Mexico, although these are not the jackals referenced. A priest stops the mob before they kill him.
In the next scene, as Dillon becomes conscious, the priest tells him, “I am glad that you are well.”
Slowly rising from a cot and adjusting to consciousness, he says, “I’m not sure ‘well’ is exactly the right word, Padre.”
“What I meant by ‘well’ is that you are alive.”
Have you ever felt that a word you came up with was not exactly the right word, the mot juste? I think we all have. Coming up with the right word is the primary reason for investing the time to increase vocabulary. I encourage you to write me and request a copy of my verbal power test, which partially tests the ability of coming up with the right word for certain situations.

1. What is the right word for not having money?
A. impecuniousness
B. succored
C. paucity
D. promulgated
E. solvent

2. You consume a slice of delicious homemade apple pie; which one would be the right word for what you ate?
A. brackish
B. sagacious
C. salacious
D. delectable

3. Erin is a beautiful woman; which word best describes her beauty?
A. pathos
B. commodious
C. pulchritudinous
D. panache
E. obtuse

4. Which one is the right word for an intellectual?
A. philistine
B. ululate
C. moniker
D. savant
E. aficionado

Let’s see how you did. No. 1 is A. No. 2 is D. Pulchritudinous fits Erin. Savant is the answer for No. 4.
The first three letters in last week’s mystery word are the same in the first part of the last name of the 19th century Italian patriot who joined Mazzini’s Young Italy societies. I use this word to describe students who are dressed crudely or tastelessly colorful as they give their presentations. You are right if you said “garishly.”
This week’s mystery word to solve is used to describe defamatory statements toward one individual. Its first two letters are the first two letters in a song title on “The White Album.”

Contact Don Vaughan at

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