In the last few days, my sensitivity to words has been causing problems at home. It’s like a chronic low-grade illness that sometimes becomes acute.
I was starting to read an essay on millennials when the word ‘peruse’ caused me to make a snap judgement: Anyone who would use the word ‘peruse’, in the first paragraph no less, was not worth my time.
I brought this up to my husband, who saw no reason to react to ‘peruse.’
It’s hard for me to accept that some people just don’t care about words that much. Probably most people. It’s such a real, visceral response for me when a word is used poorly or is just intrinsically awful, like peruse.
Some words just make me cringe, even though they are apparently harmless to others. But peruse, come on! There’s just no reason to use it unless you’re deliberately trying to sound stupid. It’s like using ‘loquacious’ when you could just say ‘talkative.’ Or using ‘sans’ for ‘without.’
I wanted to think of a term for this category of annoying words that connote an effort to sound smart. I have only come up with ‘bourgeois’ but I’m hoping for something better.
Meanwhile, someone on the radio yesterday said this about some guy who died:
He was a voracious joke-teller.
My brain went AAAAAAAAAAAAH.
You can’t be a voracious joke-teller, I complained. Maybe the guy was an inveterate joke-teller. Voracious implies an appetite or hunger. It’s bad enough that people always use the cliche ‘voracious reader’ but at least it is used correctly.
I could not get agreement from my husband so I turned to my nephew, a wordist of the highest order. He suggested ‘avid’ for the joke-teller.
Genius, right? Meanwhile, my husband and I retreated into our separate worlds of not caring and caring obsessively about voracious joke telling.
I turned to the Oxford Dictionary online to soothe my nerves.
Definition of voracious in English:
Wanting or devouring great quantities of food
he had a voracious appetite
Voracious implies something you can take in or ingest, then. So you can’t be a voracious singer, duh.
But then, there is a second definition: Having a very eager approach to an activity. The example given is his voracious reading of literature. Elsewhere I found the example he was a voracious collector.
I’m going to stick to my guns about voracious joke-telling. It is an improper use of a word that was employed just to sound smart but ended up making me furious, but not as furious as those who are sick of my fucking wordist nitpicking.
If you have perused this whole rant, kindly opine on my condition whilst I consider upping my meds.
*extra points if that ‘Cheers’ put you over the top