Friday, July 19, 2013

The Right Word

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
~ Mark Twain

Have you ever run into the “almost right” word? I sure have. In fact, I’m pretty certain that I've contributed many “almost right” words to the Great Book of LifeI've also spent many an hour rummaging through my brain, books, and basement in search of the elusive “right” word.

You know, I almost listed drawers there as one of the places I've searched, but that most definitely would not be the right word. Although some drawers may, in fact, contain words… other drawers categorically do not. Whew — another word crisis averted!

Anyway, I once encountered an “almost right” word in an intake report, back when my job was giving psych assessments. There within the section used to describe the patient, the referring medical resident had written, “He reads ferociously  sometimes six books at a time.”

Ferociously? As in, “exhibiting or given to extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality”?  A word usually associated with lion-like behavior. Hmmmmmm. 

I think the word that this poor, exhausted resident intended was voraciously. As in, “excessively eager, or having an insatiable appetite for something” (like books in this instance).

Well, I happened to find this “almost right” word ferociously funny at the time. Mostly, because when you’re working on a psych ward, I assure you, the laughs are few and far between. And so, who can blame me for being absolutely tickled over this all day long? Then I went home…

When I walked into my apartment, I noticed some things I’d never noticed before — the paperbacks dog-eared and stacked carelessly next to my bed, the hardbacks strewn across the sofa, and the magazines lying mangled on the kitchen table.

Leaping Lions! The evidence was undeniable! I was, in fact...

ferocious reader.

I still am.

Because sometimes when you least expect it, the “almost right” word happens to be “exactly right”, after all.

PROMPT: Have some ferocious fun by putting all the wrong words in all the right places — or perhaps all the right words in all the wrong places. Stretch the English language like salt water taffy, bend it like Beckham, then throw it against the wall. See what sticks. For visual artists — create some color confusion, just for kicks. Is black really this year’s pink?

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