8 of My Favorite Underused Words

The other day, I came across this article on a friend’s Facebook page. It asks us to use fewer emojis this year in favor of a handful of words that deserve to be used more in conversation. It’s a magnificent list— I particularly like “anathema” and “rumpus”— and I also learned two new words: “absquatulate” (to leave a gathering discretely without informing the host—tell me that won’t come in handy) and “sockdolager” (something that settles a matter decisively).

But that made me think: if I were to compile my own list of words to use more often, what would it contain? Here are my top 8 contenders.

  1. Denizen. I’m not sure where I first encountered this word, but I do know when I began to love it—during a vampire-themed episode of “Beavis and Butthead” where Beavis proclaims, “I will be a denizen of the night!” Good stuff.
  2. Equipoise. I associate this word with my good friend, Stefanie, who uses it all the time. I think of it as “her word,” and maybe that’s why I don’t use it much—I typically just say “equilibrium.” But “equipoise” is vastly superior.
  3. Tchotchke. I’ve always liked the sound of “tchotchke,” but when I learned it started with a “t,” it rose to the top of my list. (Same thing with “segue”—I managed to go the first 20 years of my life thinking it was spelled like the self-balancing electric vehicle.) Sometimes the spelling makes all the difference.
  4. Gallimaufry. When my manager, Teresa, used this word to describe a marketing initiative that had gone a bit off the rails, I fell in love with it. It was my word of 2014, and I still use it all the time.
  5. Truculent. I was reminded of this great, underused word when my friend, Amanda, mentioned her dad used it recently, and she found it hilarious (apparently it’s not a word he pulls out often). But it should be. It’s a great word to describe excessively hostile people.
  6. Epitome. I’ve been using this word ever since I first encountered it in my “Wordly Wise” vocabulary book in eighth grade. I used it so much it even became part of a rather lengthy “nickname” I had back in high school: “the epitome of musical knowledge.” I may have lost that title once or twice over the years, but I always get it back.
  7. Extirpation. My husband is a phenomenal guitarist. He used to do a lot of instrumental writing, and he’d frequently consult a thesaurus for song titles. My favorite title of his: “The Extirpation of the Primrose.” Why “extirpation”? Why “primrose”? No one knows, but it sounds cool.
  8. Prodigious. I once received a performance appraisal from Plante Moran’s HR Director with the following comment: “Mindy is a prodigious doer.” I think that’s the most accurate statement anyone has ever made about me (at least professionally), and “prodigious” has been a favorite word of mine ever since.

How about you? What words do you think we should use more? And are you on board with Wayne State’s request that we use fewer emojis?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *