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#49 - Using Big Words

#49 - Using Big Words

Oxford English Dictionary: Twenty Volume Set
Price: $12,000

Rich people love to sprinkle their conversations, anecdotes and general ramblings with “twenty dollar words”. Their superior grasp of the English language showcases a top notch education and upper class rearing. While words are free for anyone to use, the rich embrace vocabulary that is complex and arcane as a means to separate themselves from the masses. When speaking with the wealthy it is important to recall that there are two types of rich people; those that know what the words mean and those that think they do.

It is important to hone your ability to distinguish between these naturally occurring phenomena so you can either engage in meaningful conversation or drift off to your happy place while your counterpart butchers the English language. But how do you tell them apart without dramatically extending your own vocabulary? My dear Watson, this bit of lexicological investigation requires only that you learn a few obscure words of your own. A starting point is off-handedly mentioning that your host is extraordinarily sesquipedalian. Literally translated from Latin as “a foot and half long”, your new favorite word means “characterized by the use of long words”. Should your host look at you with glazed over eyes you will know they are a poseur. If, however your host appreciatively takes up the verbal gauntlet you will have secured yourself a friend and can engage in interesting conversation and playful repartee.

Unfortunately, there will be times when you will have to arm yourself with heavy verbal artillery that should only be used in self defense. There are those in our midst that feel the urge to embarrass and belittle others. In their early years they bullied kids on the playground, hazed nubes at the frat house, now look forward to firing people and must always be the smartest person in the room. After a few drinks, these intellectual thugs will pull out all the stops to demean an unsuspecting bystander. Should you find yourself in the proverbial line of fire, the best defense is a good offense; use a big word and then define it with even bigger words. As an example, when backed into a corner come out swinging with the timeless favorite “Sir I find your antics utterly mercurial…” pause for effect before continuing, “you know…capricious, quixotic.” Watch their dumbfounded face contort in bewilderment and ask his appreciative fiancée if you she cares to join you over a bottle of bubbly. Stride away confidently knowing you have made the world a better place. Magnifique!

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