If I were a wordsmith I’d probably know the difference between fuliginous and funambulists. My computer’s spell checker doesn’t recognize those two words either.
But I know the word lignite. That’s a clue for fuliginous, don’t you think? I know what fun is, but I suspect ambulatory is a better clue for funambulists.
Why’s this important for writing well when all the experts say don’t use big words when little ones will do? Common words make the read faster, snappier, and easier to understand, unless there’s a bunch of prepositions, adverbs, adjectives, and common qualifiers junked in with them.
When you tell someone to sit down, is that opposed to sit up? Sit works fine by itself. Why say someone stepped down when resigned works? Eliminate the clutter. It helps your reader stay riveted in your book world.
So what’s this wordsmith talk about? It’s about using precise words. Words that count. The more words you know, the more words you have at your fingertips. Powerful verbs describe better than any string of adjectives: slither, vex, beguile. Some words have shades of meaning. If you know them, you can shine a light on the one that best describes your meaning: saunter, swagger, step, skip, hop, meander.
And here’s the thing: Primary school children need to learn 2,000 new vocabulary words a year just to keep up. That’s a lot of words. What about the adults? How many words does the average English-speaking American adult know? What about the adults with college degrees? What about you? How many words do you know?
Are you curious? This site gives you statistics and you can test your own vocabulary then match it with others in your age group. Test Your Vocabulary Go for it and have fun.