Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday - 101 Words to Sound Smart

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy aka Bermuda Onion where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun.

Summary: Millions of people around the world communicate better thanks to Mignon Fogarty, akaGrammar Girl, whose top-rated weekly grammar podcast has been downloaded more than 40 million times. Now she’s turning her attention to improving our vocabulary—one smart word at a time.

Are you often stumped for the perfect way to say or write something? Do you find yourself using the same words over and over? Grammar Girl to the rescue! This handy reference guide contains 101 words that will enhance your writing, adding nuance, subtlety, and insight. Using these words in speeches, you'll sound confident and articulate--a skill that will benefit you for years to come.

Full of clear, straightforward definitions and fun quotations from historic luminaries such as Leonardo da Vinci and Charlotte Bronte as well as contemporary notables such as Dave Eggers and Rowan Atkinson, this highly-useable guidebook gives you the ability to speak and write eloquently at any occasion, setting you up for a lifetime of success.  -- St. Martin's Griffin

When I received an email asking if I was interested in taking a look at GRAMMAR GIRL'S 101 WORDS TO SOUND SMART by Mignon Fogarty, I immediately jumped at the chance. While I'm not a regular participant in Bermudaonion's Wondrous Words Wednesday, I do love the feature and I thought this book would be perfect to review as part of it.

GRAMMAR GIRL'S 101 WORDS TO SOUND SMART is a very cute little book and a perfect stocking stuffer! Each page of the book highlights a different word -- 101 in all. The words are listed in alphabetical order starting with abjure and ending with zeitgeist. There is a detailed definition (sometimes listing more than one meaning) as well as the origin of the word. In addition, there is a quotation for each word so the reader can see how to properly use the word.

I won't list all of the 101 Words to Sound Smart as part of Wondrous Words Wednesday (although it's tempting!), but I was surprised by how many of the words were familiar to me. Having said that, I might not be using them correctly or even using them at all in my writing (or speaking for that matter.) However, I do think I learned a lot of new words by looking through this book. Now the challenge is to actually use them in my day-to-day interactions...

In addition to reading the definitions of the words, I also enjoyed the author's introduction. She explains the challenges she faced in selecting just 101 words and admits that the words in this book are just the beginning. I can vouch for her when I say that if you are using these 101 words regularly, then your friends will think you're pretty darn smart.

Every reader will get something different from 101 WORDS TO SOUND SMART. Some will learn a few (or many) new words, while others will discover some more effective words that they can use to better get their points across. The author clearly states in the introduction that,"sometimes the five-dollar word really does add a nuance that you can't get with a shorter word. In many cases, the words in this book provide extra layers of meaning over more common, similar words."

And now to a brief list of the words that I found interesting:
  • bowdlerize -- to "clean up" a manuscript by deleting or changing offensive words and passages, to expurgate or prudishly censor
  • jejune -- uninteresting, or something that provides no mental nourishment
  • Occam's razor -- a phrase that means the simplest solution is usually the right one
  • sclerotic -- a belief, person, or system that has become hardened, unresponsive, or rigid over time
I thought GRAMMAR GIRL'S 101 WORDS TO SOUND SMART was a very fun book... and it also taught me a thing or two! Recommended for the aspiring writer in your life!

 Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this book.


Jennifer said...

"sclerotic" makes sense--from sclerosis. I was totally mistaken about what "jejune" meant, so it's a good thing I've never really tried to use that one!
The Beauty of Eclecticism

Louise said...

A section of the small bowel is called jejunum- so named because the original namers thought it uninteresting.

bermudaonion said...

I need this book! I do use the same words over and over in my speech and writing, so most people probably think I have a limited vocabulary. I actually knew jejune, but don't think I've every used it.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

We have another book by Grammar Girl, and it's very fun!

Julie @ Read Handed said...

What a great book! I learned Occam's razor from an episode of the TV show Scrubs. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. If you get a chance, my words are here.

Annie said...

I would like to find the same book in French ! In English i just try to use the most usual words and it's a hard work !

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book.

Margot said...

I need this book too. It sounds like a fun way to improve one's vocabulary. I think I'll have Santa put it in my stocking.

Beth F said...

She generally give very sane advice.

Lady In Read said...

nice selection of words and a great book.. I need to add it to my bookshelf soon. My words are up too on

Lady In Read said...

nice selection of words and a great book.. I need to add it to my bookshelf soon. My words are up too on

Alyce said...

I've got this book tucked into my purse right now and have been enjoying paging through it and noting words that I either didn't know or had secondary meanings I was unaware of. I love books about words! :)

Yvonne @ Fiction Books Reviews said...

Hi Julie,

This sounds like a great book, especially suitable for 'wondrous words wednesday'.

I always have to stop if I am reading and come acroos a word that I don't recognise and look up the meaning. I know that in a lot of cases the meaning of the word might almost be guessed at in the context of the story, but I'm afraid that I have to look up the official definition before I read on.

All of your words were new to me this week, although I am struggling to come up with a scenario when I could slip any of them into a general conversation.

Interesting post and book recommendation, thanks for sharing.


Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Ooh, I'm adding this book to my Christmas wish list! (although, word on the street is that Santa thinks we have enough books around here ... what does he know?!)