"Big" words

[deleted account] ( 37 moms have responded )

I was watching a programme where a woman was really offended by the use of "big" words like encompasses and diligent. I have always been made fun of by my inlaw family for using "big" words such as pedantic, as I obviously do it because I have an "ology" - as I have a degree in Psychology. Do you think using "big" words belittles people somehow or is it more offensive to dumb down what your saying just in case the person doesn't understand you?

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[deleted account]

I don't consider myself to have a small vocabulary. Just a bad spelling ability. Even though my husband stumps me on words all the time. I just ask him what it means. After all I can't understand if I don't ask. Plus he finds enjoyment in making a simple sentance sound all complicated by use huge words. It's actually kind of fun to do.

Plus sometimes the bigger word better expresses the subject than a smaller word would. Not that I can think of an example right now.

Rosie - posted on 04/22/2011

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i don't think either. sometimes i think if a person uses "big" words A LOT than it gets annoying, like they're trying to prove they're smarter than me. but if someone uses them a couple times, meh i don'r care. i usually don't know what they mean (vocabulary isn't my strong suit) so it does kinda bug me that i can't figure out what theyr'e saying, lmao!! but thats my problem, not theirs. :)

[deleted account]

I'm sort of a "middle of the road" big word user. But when it comes to other people talking to me? Hell, if I don't understand a word, I ask or look it up. Life is one giant learning experience as far as I'm concerned. And I've got dictionary.com bookmarked lol I do think that SOMEtimes some people do use "big words", maybe not to make others feel less intelligent, but to make themselves feel more intelligent, if that makes sense. In those cases, I'd be the one going, "Ok, break it down for me 2nd grade style." LOL But you can tell when someone's just using big words to use them or if it's just naturally part of their vocabulary.

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Jenn - posted on 05/09/2011

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Words are fun! Even my children love to expand their vocabulary. I just make sure they truly understand the meaning and its usage.

Amy - posted on 04/24/2011

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I often feel bad when someone doesn't know what words I use mean. I don't see it as trying to belittle someone. I can't help how I speak. Neither can my husband. It's just who we are. He is a "small" word person. Doesn't bother him one bit when I use big words. He just logs the definition and doesn't use it, but knows what I mean. If someone tries to use 7-8 huge/odd words in one short conversation though, it does bother ME - I usually am thinking....are you trying to make everyone think you're a genius?

Sarah - posted on 04/22/2011

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I definately try to consider my audience but I do know I have a tendency to slip into "bigger" words and into medical lingo which can be super annoying.
Although, on the flip side, I get furious with people who speak and write with zero regard for grammar, punction, spelling, etc. It's my number one pet peeve.

LaCi - posted on 04/22/2011

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I dumb down everything I say to people who aren't in my immediate social circle. Which is mostly a manipulation tactic, really. If people think I'm an elitist cunt they won't listen to what I'm saying, if they're feeling self-conscious about themselves because they aren't grasping what someone is saying then the communication will shut down, and so on, so in order to effectively communicate I think you have to be doing so on the same level. I think it's necessary to consider teachers as an example. My physics professor didn't walk int the first day talking about quantum physics, I would have walked out. He started with the ultra boring basic crap (which almost made me walk out, but did not) :)

I guess what I'm trying to say is to consider your audience. I don't think its (often) intentionally offensive, but I think it's necessary (for functionality) to communicate on the same level. Or at least try to, get close to the level and such.

[deleted account]

I think its dumb when people get offended by how people talk. i will not dumb myself down or my vocabulary. If you dont know what a word means just ask! Ill be happy to let you know.

Jayce - posted on 04/21/2011

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I don't consider those to be big words. I have an extensive vocabulary (at least I think I do) because I read a lot and every time I come across a word I don't know, I look it up. If I use a word someone doesn't know, some will ask for an explaination and some will look utterly lost so I'll rephrase for them.

But it's come to my atttention that maybe I should 'dumb it down' for my son. He started stuttering about a month ago and one of the possible reasons we were given is that his brain can't process some of the larger words so that when he tries to use them he ends up stumbling over them which makes him frustrated which makes him stutter more.

Jenni - posted on 04/21/2011

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Meah, I haven't experienced anyone being offended by me having hyperpolysyllabicomania, because I don't. ;)

Charlie - posted on 04/21/2011

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I find my whole vocab changes depending on who I am with sometimes my whole pitch changes , you know like when you are talking to kids ...or pirates.

Isobel - posted on 04/21/2011

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I obviously don't think they're big words, but yeah, if I'm talking to a person who dropped out of school in grade 10 I take my cues from their vocabulary.

[deleted account]

@Dana M I have an application on my phone that sends me a new word for every day! lol. I try to use that word in my everyday conversations.



Todays word is Homunculus!

[deleted account]

I wouldn't consider 'diligent' and 'encompasses' BIG words either. Personally I like it when someone types a big word that I don't know. Dictionary.com is a wonderful thing! ;) I love learning new words.

Hey, just a thought......we should start a game or a thread and have a "word of the day" theme. No harm in building my vocab, right? Do that make me totally nerdy?

Merry - posted on 04/21/2011

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No diligent and encompass are not big words. Idk how you would dumb them down without adding more words like diligent could be hard working, but that's more then you have to say! I guess encompass could be surround or something, but no I think those sound like regular words.

Johnny - posted on 04/21/2011

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Do people on here really consider words like diligent and encompasses to be "big" words? For me, they are just regular words that it wouldn't occur to me not to use. Obviously it's polite not to speak in normal company like you have the Oxford Dictionary implanted in your head, but if someone doesn't know words this basic and is not in the process of learning English, I'm not sure that the speaker is the one with the issue.

Isobel - posted on 04/21/2011

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I think part of being polite is knowing who you are talking to and using the appropriate language. Why use language that you know somebody can't understand if communication is truly the ultimate goal?

Sorry, but I DO know people who use superior education to make other people feel like shit, and I will never be one of those people.

[deleted account]

I don't think anyone should HAVE to dumb down BUT "big words" can intimidate some people and they will shy away from conversations because they feel inadequate. That's there shit!

Merry - posted on 04/21/2011

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My sister uses big words, I usually just say 'I don't know what that means' and she explains. I personally don't find any pleasure in learning new words, close minded.......maybe. Likely more just lazy. But I don't think my sister is trying to act more intelligent, she just says the words she thinks of as she speaks!

Charlie - posted on 04/21/2011

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My mum has always been annoyed when my Dad and I would start talking and would use big words LOL .

I dont see why you should feel offended by it thats like being offended because someone speaks another language , I love new words , I love learning the meanings of new words ... My dad was always teaching me new words even until our last weeks together he was still teaching me new words ...the last one was Tautology ( something I can be guilty of doing ) I also quiet like Epistimological !

[deleted account]

Oh I love the word flummoxed - I may have to slip that into conversation today I haven't used it in a while ;-)

Amber - posted on 04/20/2011

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I think that it depends on the person, the place, and the word. I know that I have a natural love of literature and always tried to learn new words. I never did it so that I could throw them out there in conversation, but because I find language fascinating.

I do try to match my words with the company I'm in. If I'm around a bunch of friends that could care less about what words are used and we're just having fun, then I keep it simple. When I'm with people who have the same interests as me and we're discussing a book, the news, politics, or some other topic then I'll use "bigger" words to suit the discussion. Each group has their own type of language I guess.

I don't think the big words are an issue unless you purposefully use them to make somebody feel bad. But I also think that if you want people to listen to you without eye rolling, that you'd better be speaking their "language".

[deleted account]

I hate when someone tries to make you feel dumb by using the "big" words. You can usually tell if they do it all the time or are pulling out all the stops to try and make you look stupid. I use words to the best of my ability i also know what most words mean when someone is talking to me. I just have trouble using them myself. Meh you use them i know what you mean and all is good.

Johnny - posted on 04/20/2011

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:-O

She wrote on someone's forehead? Now I'm flummoxed and gobsmacked.

[deleted account]

In the show the woman had a proper hissy fit at the dinnertable because a teenager used the two above words - she then took to writing another (I can't remember the word but it was another "big" word) on the girls forehead, which I thought made her look very immature and childish. She felt that because they used these words so easily they looked upon her and her family as being stupid, when in actuality they were just using the language that came naturally to them.

[deleted account]

Oops, I was refering to your first post, Johnny. I don't think they had sofisticated messages like that in Sesamestreet...

[deleted account]

Wasn't that Sesamestreet's message, too?! And still true 30 years later. You are right, it's silly to be offended by someone knowing something you don't. I wonder, did she feel he was doing it on purpose to make her look stupid. Either way, I don't think I'd draw more attention to it with a big, childish outburst.

Johnny - posted on 04/20/2011

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I have to make an admission. I learned that one from my father, who's motto is "don't use a bunch of small words when one really big one will suffice". Might be because his second language was German ;-)

Johnny - posted on 04/20/2011

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And you should feel at least a little smug for knowing more words in your second language than someone knows in their first language!

[deleted account]

Don't worry Daniela I had to look that one up too lol.

Carol I don't think of them as big words either hence the "big" but it seems to some people they are.

Johnny - posted on 04/20/2011

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But you learned a new word ;-P

IMHO, there is nothing better than asking when you don't understand something. That is the only way to learn. If I used a word someone else didn't know (which happens often with my hubby who is ESL) I'm more than happy to define it. I've never thought poorly of anyone who did not know something. Only those too proud to ask for help. Most of us only know a few things really well, on everything else, we need to ask.

Johnny - posted on 04/20/2011

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Ridiculous. If someone is feeling so insecure about their lack of knowledge, they can pick up a dictionary or some English literature and start to read. Or they can ask and learn. I have no patience for people who get mad at others for knowing more stuff and refuse to try to learn themselves. I have to say though, I have never thought of either of those words as "big words". But then I am a sesquipedalian.

[deleted account]

Hmmm. I am German and I perfectly understand those words. Feeling rather smug now... Anyway, I think under certain circumstances toning it down is the best way. I wouldn't like sounding like I am patronising someone. That said, if someone was using words I didn't understand, I'd probably just make a mental note to look it up. If it's an english word I'd just ask, you get away with it as a foreigner.

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