Friday, September 30, 2016

The power of ‘meretricious’

I once heard an old lady, a native of upstate New York, describing her recent trip to California. When asked what she thought of the people in the Los Angeles area, she replied, “Oh, I suppose they’re not much different from us in the East; but in a way they do seem, well, a little meretricious.” 


My opinion of the old lady went up considerably. So did that of another person who was listening to her. No sooner had she finished the sentence than he said: “Miss Brody, that word is perfect. ‘Meretricious’ describes them to a ‘T.’ ”

You may not agree with Miss Brody that Southern Californians are meretricious. But you will have to agree that she picked a superb word to describe her impression of them.

You must not be self-conscious about using words you have just added to your vocabulary. For one thing, you will remember the words better if you immediately begin using them in conversation. And you will have them ready for use in the future-when one of them may be the “perfect word.”

One vocabulary expert maintains that the only way you will remember new words is by using them three or four times in a single day after learning them. This is a good habit to cultivate, for repetition is the key to retention. Why not try it? The next time you learn a new word, try to work it into your conversation three times during the course of that day.

Try following the example of the little boy in the cartoon who says to his mother, “We learned a new word in school today. Try and surmise what it is. I’ll give you three surmises.” My surmise is that it was “surmise.” And I’ll bet (or surmise) the boy will remember “surmise” forever! 
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