Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wordsmith Wednesday: Am I Happy About This?

I love words. All words. Even the words I don't like, I do -- which is one of the reasons I became a writer. I also love the smell of bleach, but that's neither here nor there. Even as kid, I was the little introvert who sat in the corner, perusing the dictionary or medical journals, because knowing words like "miscreant" or "Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency" is as good as speaking Icelandic when you're eleven.

So, when my wonderful friend (and personal Yoda) Chi suggested a fun new meme, I jumped on board. And Wordsmith Wednesday was born. See here for more details.

Each Wednesday, we'll select a few words which are often misused or misunderstood. The power of words is a wonderful thing, but losing that power can be devastating when you're trying to get your point across. So, the whole idea behind Wordsmith Wednesday, is to allow people to share some of their favorite (or not-so-favorite) words and explain the differences in the way we see them or what they mean.

I'm as guilty as the next person when it comes to misapplying a meaning to a word, so I want to try and clarify my opinion. Here are a few I often see writers using interchangeably. While some may disagree, these are my thoughts.

Anxious
Anxious implies nervousness. While there may be a hint of excitement residing there, the primary emotion behind being anxious isn't a positive one. A doctor may have bad news to deliver to a family. She's experiencing dread at the thought of their reaction and having to be the one to share it. While she may want to simply get it over with, there's nothing good about her feelings.

Eager
Eager denotes a good mixture of nervousness and excitement. A new writer is expecting to hear back about a book deal. He is waiting on pins and needles, hopeful the response is a positive one, but hesitant that it might not be. Eager has the best of both worlds.

Excited
The definition of excited is: stirred emotionally; agitated. This is possibly the most wrongly used of them all, and I'm as guilty as the next. For me, excitement is simply that -- I'm happy to experience the thing I'm living through or expecting. There's no negative connotation at all. However, the dictionary would disagree with me. The original intent behind the word denotes having one's feathers ruffled, though honestly, I don't see anyone reworking this word to fit its archaic definition again any time soon.

Now you know, all three words have a similar tenor but each a different emotion. What are a few misused words you guys come across?

1 comments:

Elizabeth Isaacs said...

I went a bit off the beaten path on mine, but I love this one! Very good, Padewan learner! :-D

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