Are you a sesquipedalian? That is, do you like to use big words? Or are you hippopotomorstrosesquipedaliophobic? That means ‘afraid of big words’. Who wouldn’t be afraid of such a word? Two hundred years ago there were rural areas of France where a person could get by with a vocabulary of little more than two hundred words. If one’s life is quite simple, one’s vocabulary is limited as well. You can live without most of the words in this and following articles, but look at it as a game. Of course people who enjoy using such ‘fancy’ words certainly enjoy playing Scrabble.
This article and several that will follow will deal with so-called ‘big’ words. You should be able to comprehend or recognize some the words used in the following paragraph if you’ve read a lot of Shakespeare or older British literature.
Can you understand the following paragraph?:
Curt Becker is quite a character. He is barbate with diastema. He is often crapulous and is always edacious and rude. Stay down wind of him when he eructs. He engages in such fanfaronade, he is truly a fardel to deal with. A conversation with him is naught but gallimaufry. As regards his appearance, it is hard to believe how someone who has such a full beard can be so glabrous.
Let’s tear the paragraph apart. ‘barbate’. With a little imagination you can figure out that word. It means ‘having a beard’. The unfortunate phenomenon of having a gap between your teeth is called, ‘diastema’. A person who gets obnoxious from booze is ‘crapulous’.
That’s a rather onomatopoeic word, isn’t it? ‘Edacious’ means what it sounds like, ‘a tendency to eat a lot’. ‘Eruct’ means ‘to pass gas’. You should have guessed that one from context and sound, after all, it is similar to the word, ‘erupt’. ‘Fanfaronade’ is braggadocio, bragging a lot. ‘Fardel’ is a burden. ‘Gallimaufry’ is hodge-podge’. I think you could have guessed at that one. ‘Glabrous’ means ‘bald’.
Having a vast knowledge of the meanings of prefixes and suffixes can aid you in deciphering words, but most of the words that will be used in these articles won’t lend themselves to such analysis.