What's in a Word | All Blogs

Specific, strong words

By Debra Dobbins

In his column today Denny Herzog contends that we have fewer and fewer great statesmen who can respectfully debate ideas rather than just assail their opponents’ personalities.

As always, readers will either agree or disagree with him. I contend, though, that one aspect of Herzog’s column is hard to debate. He clearly chooses specific, strong words to make his argument. Following are definitions of words in the column that proficient readers should know. The definitions are taken from Webster’s.

Platitude – a commonplace or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or original
Simultaneously – occurring, done, existing, etc. at the same time
Staunch – firm, steadfast, loyal
Predecessors – persons who precede or preceded others, as in office (Precede means “go before.”)
Ominous – of or serving as an omen; esp. having the character of an evil omen; threatening; sinister
Indigenous - native
Genre – a kind or type, as of works of literature, art, etc.
Exponentially – increasing in extraordinary proportions
Cabal – a small group of persons joined in a secret, often political, intrigue; junta
Convey – to make known, communicate in words, actions, appearance, etc.
Annihilation – total, decisive destruction, complete conquering, demolition
Forum – an assembly, place, radio program, etc. for the discussion of public matters or current questions
Substantive - essential
Snide – slyly malicious or derisive (It comes from a German word meaning “to cut.”)
Bickering – petty quarreling, squabbling

Finally, it is important to know more about the reference to Alexis de Tocqueville. He was a French political thinker and historian.  “Democracy in America (1835), his major work, published after his travels in the United States, is today considered an early work of sociology and political science," according to Wikipedia.

Armed with this knowledge, you now should be able to read Herzog’s column and decide whether you agree or disagree with him.


Alexis de Tocqueville

photo of oil painting courtesy of Wikipedia


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