As I’ve said before, I’m a restored English Major, but there are a few words that confuse me. To be honest, I can’t consistently remember what certain words mean, even though I’ve used them, and looked some of them up more than once.
The first word is inchoate. I think I know why I have trouble with this one. I grew up in a small place surrounded by practical people who never used big words when small ones would work. Eschewing obfuscation came naturally to them. I doubt I ever heard inchoate until college classes, probably something about the modern novel, or psychological entropy, whatever. Still seems unnecessary.
I can never quite remember how to use inimical, but that one I know why. I learned it wrong the first time I encountered it, thinking it meant identical, rather than likely to harm, or unfriendly. Boy did that creative writing class nail me on that one. I’m a little scared of it. I always look it up.
My biggest frustration with the meaning of a word is with sanguine. It shouldn’t mean something like calm and confident. It’s about blood, and blood is about emotion; it’s a fierce sounding word, or at least begs attention to the top of its voice. I know, I know, go to the history of the word and accept its evolution with all the nuances and just get over it.
Finally, there is avuncular. None of the uncles I can remember were maternal in their nature. None were fluent in Latin. Good men, but real men. They’d more likely put a switch to your backside than a hand on your shoulder. To me, avuncular sounds like someone being bounced off the seat of a stagecoach, or a skin disorder.
I love words. I just get confused by some of them. I need to be more sanguine about the fact that I’m just getting back to being an English Major again, inchoately so. At least I have some avuncular people in my writing group who never present feedback likely to cause harm.