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Vaughans Vocabulary Sometimes we fall short of home plate when it comes to having the right word

February 16, 2011

My Three Sons was on prime time network television from 1960-1972. Don Grady, who had the role of Robbie Douglas, is a friend of mine. Recently my wife and I watched an earlier MTS episode, one which Don Grady did not remember. “Don, I remember most of the episodes,” he writes in an e-mail, “but not that one! In the earlier years I was in school much of the day, as well as doing filming, so a lot got packed in.”
Chip quits the baseball team. After encouragement and coaching from his father, grandfather, Robbie, and Mike, he gets back on the team.
Overcome with overconfidence, however, Chip makes a reckless run to home plate, and is called out by his father who is umpiring. I love Robbie’s response; his face is grimacing and with perfect agitation in his voice, he says, “Wouldn’t you know it? The one thing we didn’t work on, base running.”
Sometimes we fall short of home plate, as it were, when it comes to having the right word for the situation. Write me to request your free copy of an 8-part verbal power test that you can take anytime and anywhere to see where you are in terms of having the right word for the situation.

1. grimace (GRIM-uhs)
A. a look of anticipation
B. an indication of disapproval or discomfort
C. a pensive look
D. All of the above

2. Which one of the following is not a synonym for grimace?
A. distort
B. smile
C. frown
D. scowl
E. stoic

No. 1 is B. No. 2 is E.

3. A verdict is to a jury what a/an __________ is to an umpire.
A. umpirage (um-PIRE-ij)
B. arbitrament (ahr-BI-truh-muhnt)
C. infield (IN-field)
D. outfield (OUT-field)
E. referee (ref-uh-REE).

Both A and B apply to No. 3.

4. If a female is calling the strikes, she is a/an
A. umpress (um-PRESS)
B. umpsteen (UMP-steen)
C. ingenue (AHN-zhuh-noo).
D. Sempronius. (Sem-PROH-nee-uhs).

One of my favorite words is ingenue, which means the part of an artless, innocent, unworldly girl or young woman, especially as represented on the stage. Laura is the ingenue in The Glass Menagerie, and speaking of the stage, Sempronius, which I couldn’t resist including, is a character in Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. No. 4 is A.

5. philomath (FILL-uh-math)
A. one who is adept in algebra, trigonometry, and the like
B one who is inept in algebra, trigonometry, and the like
C. a lover of learning
D. a mathematics professor

Philomath comes from the Greek words “philos” (loving) and “manthanein” (to learn), hence a lover of learning. Last week’s mystery word was “hangover.” This week’s mystery word to solve can be found in the title of a poem that was inspired by a painting by Jean-Francois Millet. Some individuals think that one of these does not fit their hands.

Contact Don Vaughan at

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