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Wednesday 24 August 2011

Nuts and Bolts: sesquipedalian

George Orwell's first rule for using language is HERE.

This is rule number two:

Never use a long word when a short one will do.

I must say this knocked me sideways a bit. I mean, I hardly like to disagree with George Orwell, but we're not aiming to find words which will 'do', are we? We're aiming to find the exact word for the exact place.

If we mean tranquillity then peace or calm might 'do' - but it would be very sad to lose the beautiful word tranquillity.

And how could I give up the glories of such a sesquipedalian as...well, sesquipedalian?

On the whole, though, of course, Orwell is quite right.

And, sure enough, all writers who use the words laughed or ejaculated or opined instead of said should be taken out and shot.

Word Probably Not To Use Today Because It Will Make You Look A Real Show-off: sesquipedalian. Sesquipedalian means (or describes) a long word. It's from the Latin word sēsquipedālis which means a foot and a half. Sesqui means one-and-a-half, and pedalis means of the foot.


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