English uses 26 letters: 21 consonants and 5 vowels. We can create jillions of words, such as the word jillion, which is a slang word that means some indefinitely large number. Some words have a single consistent meaning; some have numerous context-specific meanings. For example, the words brain, north, golf, automobile, jury, and woman have pretty consistent meanings wherever they are used. On the other hand, try to figure out the meanings of these words without knowing the context in which they’re used: right, down, space, bridge, state, and branch.
Posts Tagged ‘synonyms’
Even kids do it.
As I was leaving church this fine Sunday morning, I walked past the small playground to get to my car. In a rather loud voice, one young girl (perhaps 7 or 8 years old) screamed at her brother: “I’m telling mom! She told you not to call me a female dog!” The young lad, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, answered calmly: “No she didn’t, she said I couldn’t call you a bitch.”
The diversity of the English language and our never-ending struggle with accuracy and the precision of word meanings have resulted in an incredibly rich collection of synonyms. The following example demonstrates the breadth and depth of describing a state so loved by humans that they invented a ridiculous number of words for the same condition. You won’t find this in a thesaurus.