I thank my Danish born, Naturalized American Mother for my love of words. She always told me that if I wasn’t sure what a word meant, I shouldn’t use it. “Always look it up in the dictionary first,” She advised. In those days, ‘look it up in the dictionary‘ meant going to the bookshelf, opening the largest and heaviest book there and leafing through many, very thin pages to find your answer, taking several minutes. Because Mom was insistant, I looked up the words, but I am sure I was among the few. Today we have Google, answer in seconds, there is no excuse. Words can be tricky.
Take, for instance the words, dumb and stupid. People seem the use the words interchangeably. No doubt because they have never looked them up. I have often made the statement that “I was really dumb in highschool, but I wasn’t stupid.”
Dumb: Mute, speechless, toungtied, at a loss for words.
Stupid: Lacking intelligence or common sense.
I used to think that vilified meant; excused, acquitted, but now I know that it means belittled, desparaged, libeled.
Untenable used to mean; not useable, incorrect, unworthy. We all know it means; weak, unsound, shakey.
There are probably hundreds of examples, all to which I elude, seem to allude me at the moment. Whether you play with them or just communicate with them, make sure to use the right ones, look them up.