Attention Wordists

Reading the little profiles of  people on tumblr, I noticed that a few people described themselves as eccentric. Like, ‘eccentric 19 year old art student loves cats, drawing, photography cupcakes and  random  cartoons.’

My feeling is, you don’t describe yourself as eccentric. That’s a conclusion made about you by someone else. It  just  seems unseemly. Like calling yourself ‘classy,’ it’s kind of a self-negating word.

Naturally my husband failed to see the problem. I explained that actual eccentrics would not describe themselves as such. They tend to take no notice of how odd they are, but rather to find others baffling. The most eccentric people I’ve ever known would never describe themselves that way.

Therefore, almost by definition, these self-described eccentrics are just being pretentious. My husband then asked me what other words I would categorize as unseemly. I came up with “complex” and “complicated’ as well as ‘lanky.” I don’t know where the  lanky came from, but it’s certainly not a word to use about  oneself unless you want to be sickening.

It was frustrating to try to make my point when to another wordist, I’m sure it’s all a given. It’s pretentious to use certain words about yourself, even if those words are fairly accurate.  Maybe you’re quirky, but don’t bill yourself as quirky. It’s an evaluation for others to make.

I was excited about getting into this conversation  with someone as sensitive and prohibitive about words and word-usage as I am. I though of calling Cousin Russell, who’s always up for a word discussion. But what I really wanted was Max, because he would know exactly what I meant and he would be eager to throw in some other words that he found unacceptable in the same way.

I need someone to be Max. When it hit me, I started to cry, even though we were on our first weekend vacation in a year and a half.  Maybe my other nephew can help. I need someone who cringes when they hear a room or building called a ‘space.’

Anyone care to help out? Agree or disagree, as long as you have strong opinions about words.

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117 Responses to Attention Wordists

  1. Jill says:

    I’m with tartantreacly…authentic is the worse and it’s all Oprah’s fault, old soul that she is…

  2. Jill says:

    and “conversate”, foodie, it is what it is, and pre-menopausal.

    Should I have said “worst” in the prior comment….my grammar isn’t the best.

  3. Sofia says:

    Nobody should describe themselves as eccentric, quirky, random or kooky under any circumstances, ever.

  4. Andrea says:

    I’m sure I described myself as ‘random’ when I was a youngster, but in retrospect, I think I was trying to say that I was inconsistent in terms of my likes/interests/hobbies/values etc.

    I agree with pretty much all the words noted above. I’m also iffy about people describing themselves as ‘neurotic’ or, even worse, ‘charmingly neurotic’. Often, these people are really just fussy, self-important and obsessed with small details of their own lives. It’s not that they have a functional mental disorder.

  5. Jenny says:

    I have to say I don’t have a problem with ‘space’ but definitely with people describing themselves as eccentric, different, quirky, when what they are is pretentious, and yes OCD, when what they are really saying is that thay are perfectionists with an admirable eye for detail. But what really annoys me is when my husband (actually my husband fullstop) accuses me of being a pedant about every day word usage/meaning. And it’s not a compliment, believe me. We get into the most heated arguments about his sloppy use of terminology and he’s a writer for Pete’s sake. For example, and it’s not the best but it’s the most recent one, is his use of the terms stain and lacquer interchangably. They are not the same thing, one stains, one lacquers. (Yes, you can get a stain lacquer which does both, but that just confuses things.) Apparently I am a pedant – all I know is that I want my table not stained.

  6. Jenny says:

    Sorry – I want my table lacquered not stained.

  7. Jaimi says:

    Jenny, so with you on people describing themselves in terms of psychological diagnoses — especially self-diagnosed ones. What the fuck is with that? Boring attention whores, all of ’em. I guess I take particular offense ’cause I’ve got mad obsessive compulsive issues and there’s nothing I find quirky or cute or compelling about it, just that it’s a drag on existing period.

  8. Dru says:

    Jenny- who in possession of a dictionary can possibly think a stain and a lacquer are the same thing?!!

    If knowing the difference makes me a pedant, I’ll happily be a pedant. Or an anachronism, whatever the ignorants choose to call me.

  9. RLC says:

    Oohhh, I always call myself lanky in the most self-deprecating way. I am tall with long limbs that I routinely trip over and I wish my body were more in proportion. I can’t really think of another way to say ‘tall and awkward’ without using the word ‘lanky’ but I’m open to any suggestions!

    I definitely agree that a true eccentric wouldn’t call themselves eccentric, I guess people get confused and see it as a synonym for ‘weird’ which it is not.

  10. RLC says:

    Also, as a student of something called “communications” (whatever, even I don’t know what that means) I encounter the word “space” almost daily and it makes me want to scream. I have to “study” a lot of “spaces”, in particular “postmodern” “spaces” and the way in which the “inhabitors” of the space “relate to it”. BLERG. I also enjoy when people call their art galleries “independent art spaces” (note: these are usually hipsters with a spare attic/basement/studio, semi-artistic friends and access to free beer)

  11. The ex Anton says:

    Since we talked about this yesterday I can’t use any of those words now without cracking up.

  12. The ex Anton says:

    Oh God!!! Not the “random” word!!! Can we just erase “random” from existence??? Why and when did it all of a sudden become so popular to misuse? I can’t take it!!!

  13. kate says:

    people cannot say their own movie, book or t.v. show is groundbreaking.

  14. Jenny says:

    I realise you’ve all moved on, but today I remembered my pet hate word and knew where I could rant about it! ‘Fine’ – I hate the word ‘fine’! Particularly when I’ve asked ‘How do I look?’ – and the reponse is ‘fine’. ‘Do you like my new so and so?’ – it’s fine … Fine? What kind of a word is that? It’s the worst insult – totally unacceptable. I’d prefer hideous, disgusting, grotesque. Anything but fine.

  15. Juicifer says:

    Bit late to the debate but boo yah:

    I don’t think anyone should describe themselves as:

    Rather odd

    I don’t like edgy but I think its okay to say “I’m on edge” if you intend it as a warning. Not that I would say it.

    I hate it when women refer to their breasts as “the girls”. aaargh! Wackness.

    Also not fond of the fashion singular – a navy trouser or a clumpy shoe
    And also “piece”, as in “I have one of his pieces”

  16. pegr says:

    I know I’m late to this party but…why do people on these home improvement blogs or tv show say that they “staple gunned it” or glue gunned it? Ugh!

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