Saturday, May 10, 2014

Why Should We Settle for Small Words?

When you think of the word 'smart,' what do you think about? 

Do you think of intelligence? "That guy is really smart!" 

Or do you think of pain? "My knee really smarts!" 

The word 'smart' can mean many different things. It's a very universal and flexible term. To smart can mean to be a source of sharp or superficial pain, such as a wound. Though, the word smart as I intend to use it means to have or show quick intelligence or ready mental capability. 

The list of synonyms that go along with the word 'smart' is endless; acute, alert, brainy, bright, brilliant, canny, clever, genius, keen, knowing, nimble, and many more. 

Though, all these words, do they all mean to have quick intelligence? 

My brother and I will often argue about words. He is a couple of years younger than I, therefore he has not experienced as much of the world. He is incredibly bright, but can be naive at times. 

I used the word 'exponential' and he wasn't sure what it meant. I told him it meant 'rapidly increasing' and he quirks his eyebrow up at me. "Why wouldn't you just say 'rapidly increasing'?" 

I looked at him and I paused for a moment. Why didn't I just use the phrase 'rapidly increasing'? I had to think about it before I answered him but finally I resolved that it was because the word 'exponentially' sounded better and less wordy and it also was more powerful. 'Rapidly increasing' gets the message across, but the power behind 'exponentially' is far greater. 

'Exponentially' brings back mathematical terms. An exponent, which we said as 'to the power', multiplies by multiples. There can multiple exponents, and as you multiply, the number you are multiply grows rapidly. If you think of the number 10 to the exponent or power of 10, that's ten multiplied by ten, ten times. And if you take the shortcut, you just add ten zeros to the original number. 

Now that is much more powerful than simply 'rapidly increasing.' 

Another question crossed my mind when he asked me this; why should we settle for 'rapidly increasing' when there are words like 'exponentially'? 

If we revert back to the word 'smart' and its many synonyms, 'smart' is the equivalent to 'rapidly increasing'. Why should we settle for 'smart' when we can use words such as 'brilliant'? 'Brilliant is a far more powerful way to express someone being smart. Brilliant means to have or show great intelligence, talent or quality. 

Brilliant has it's own place, but it is probably better suited elsewhere, rather than explaining someone's intelligence. 'Shining brightly, sparkling, glittering, lustrous.' This is how brilliant should be primarily used; not to describe someone's intelligence. This particular word should be used to describe a ring or a piece of jewelry. 

Now, someone who is smart and someone who is say clever are two different people. 

Why? 

Someone who is smart simply has quick intelligence. 

Someone who is clever? Someone who is clever shows inventiveness or originality. They're also ingenious. Now that is a lot more powerful and descriptive than smart! 

Far too often, we are willing to settle for the smaller, less powerful words. We are willing to settle for less rather than reach for more. Why would there be all of these others words if we weren't meant to use them? There cannot simply be one word for everything. There simply cannot. We cannot use smart to describe everyone who has an ounce of intelligence. There are varying levels of intelligence. We cannot use one word to describe emotions. 

There is an exponential amount of known words, and the numbers grow everyday. I learn new words everyday. You learn new words everyday, too, even if you don't realize it. There are new words being made everyday. We cannot possibly keep up. There is no way for a single person to know every word, but we can at least strive for more. 

As always, thank you very much for reading. I feel that my more personal postings have freed my mind and made me more focused. I have found my center and purpose for this blog again and I hope you enjoyed this posting. 

Happy blogging. 

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