Daily Lesson: Definite Meaning of Common Words

by Derwood Hunsdale-Talbot on February 2, 2011

Daily Lesson comes from the annals of my 1913 copy of A First Book of Composition by Briggs and McKinney – a sort of beginners guide to the “collection and organization of material for expression in long themes and by a study of the more essential rhetorical principles.”

Today we learn about slang and a few words that that are a bit loosey-goosey in their meaning.

Beware of slang sign

Slang, like hoses in Sweden, is easy to trip over. (via ruminatrix on Flickr)

Definite Meanings of Common Words

The chief danger of slang is convenience. Slang words are blanket words, very easily put on. We use them instead of taking the trouble to be definite; and so a clever bit of slang steals our vocabularies.

An aside: 1913 nomenclature includes such slang slams such as rinky-dink, roscoe, and ratty.

Some words not slang are almost as disreputable. Look up the meanings of the following words and use each correctly in one sentence for each of its meanings. Make a good sentence that will bring out the meaning of the words: awful, nice, horrid, grand, sweet, fix, mean, fine, splendid. Substitute more definite or more appropriate words for these in the following sentences, which you are likely to use or to hear:

  1. He has an awful nice cold.
  2. I had a horrid time at the party.
  3. Your new hat is sweet.
  4. She is a nice girl.
  5. Let me fix your hair-ribbon.
  6. Isn’t he just grand?

You Could Do the Recommended Writing Exercise…

…or you could take AFBOC and bring it up to date with real slang. By real I mean current. From today.

That sounds way more fun.

And I’m pretty sure “I had a horrid time at the party” would be considered definite by most standards today.

Sling your slang starting . . . now.

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Daily Lesson: Definite Meaning of Common Words | Electronic Book Reviews
February 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm

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