Choose the Right Word

Paraphrashing Mark Twain who once said the difference between the right word and a similar word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

I was thinking about that last night after working through my clogged up Inbox. One email was the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day for August 1 of this year.


That was the word. It means beauty and comes from the Latin adjective pulcher, meaning beautiful.

The English form of the Latin adjective is pulchritudinous, the verb form is pulchrify, the noun is pulchritudeness or pulchritude (same meaning as pulchritude), and the English adjective is pulchrous.

Have you ever heard a word that sounded less like its meaning than pulchritude? I think not. When I hear the word, usually from a comedian, it makes me think of putrid.

Lord Byron did not write, "She walks in puchritude..." did he?

It's weird when words sound so different from their meaning. Can you think of a word like that?

Takeaway Truth

Always choose the right word—and make sure when spoken aloud that it sounds like what it means.

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