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Witty Wordsmith: Frequently Misused Words

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“Words ought to be a little wild for they are the assaults of thought on the unthinking.” ~John Maynard Keynes

There are plenty of words out there which get used incorrectly on a daily basis.  Sometimes the word has an archaic background or it just sounds similar to the correct word.  Sometimes media misuses the word and it catches on for viewers and readers.  This month we’re looking at another batch of frequently misused words to clear up the meaning and help polish your writing so it shines!

alacrity – Often used to mean speedy, the actual definition is a bit more complicated.  While speed plays a part, alacrity is defined as a cheerful willingness to do something, and a prompt attention to said task.  From the Latin alacritas (eager/lively) this word has more to do with the emotional state of the described rather than the speed they work at

fatuous – Has nothing to do with weight.  Fatuous is related to the word ‘infatuated’ and refers to someone who is foolish, stupid or silly.

ignominy – Has nothing to do with being anonymous, despite the similar sound.  Ignominy signifies disgrace or dishonor.  This is a form of the word ignoble – not noble or honorable

poltroon – This is a fun little word that signifies a thoroughly cowardly person.

rancor – Is not a vicious beast from Star Wars.  It means vindictive malice, often directed at someone.

And two words that look and sound almost the same, but mean very different things:

veracity – Truthfulness, a dedication to accuracy and truth

voracity – Greed, a consuming hunger

Armed with new definitions and new words, try some of these out in your posts!  And you are also allowed to snicker if you see them misused in popular media.

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