Word Aren’t Precious When They’re Pretentious

Ever come across a word and think, “Why would anyone use that?” Ok, most people probably don’t care, but I sometimes find a word so ungainly, so inappropriate to its meaning, or so ill-used that it makes me wonder if the people who came up with it ever hear themselves talk. I’m talking about the musical quality words have, something every poet pays attention to and almost everyone else ignores.

Yet it’s something even the oblivious respond to. Some words, some phrases, are better remembered than others. This is why poetry was the most effective way to pass on knowledge before the written word. Besides rhythm, poetry has flow – created by putting words in the best order for ease of speaking or emphasis. It’s why one of the most useful editing techniques is to read your work out loud.

But this article isn’t about sentence flow, it’s about the visceral chewiness of words. Some words jive with what they mean and others kind of suck. Take the word coruscate for example:

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