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July 17, 2019
Howdy….I wanted to do a little blog series about words some people tend to use that just confuse the shit out of the rest of us.
Whether it’s to show their intellectual superiority….let’s be real, it’s to show their intellectual superiority. And it may be true, but it is NOT effective for communication.
It’s always a good idea to speak in the same language as your audience, but throwing around seldom-used words just to flex your grammatical muscles is never a good idea. You’ll jumble the message at best, turn them off and send them away at worst.
And so, the first word I wanted to look at is ‘hubris’.
I’ve heard people on the radio use it and seen it in blog posts and other online content. I have to admit, I had no idea wtf this word meant when I first saw it, and I deal in words for a living.
If your readers or listeners have to go away to learn the meaning of a word in order to grasp what you are saying, they may not return. Like any other type of distraction, hearing or seeing a word you don’t understand ‘breaks the trance’, which is never a good thing.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, hubris means “attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed.
In other words, someone who overestimates his own capabilities, competence, accomplishments, etc., with a lack of humility.
Most of us know at least one person that shows hubris, probably on a consistent basis. Here are a few ways to use it in a sentence:
Tony was feeling invincible due to hubris, which is why he ended up falling off the cliff.
It’s easy to offend people if you are blinded by hubris.
Jane’s humility was refreshing in a workplace filled with hubris.
Now that I know what it means and more or less how to use it, I would still rather choose a different word. Don’t get me wrong, if I were writing to a group of academics I might add it in. But in the vast majority of cases, I would steer clear.
Instead, try words like cocky, pretentious, arrogant, over-confident…or even create a combo like “dangerously over-confident” or “completely lacking humility”.
Stay tuned for more of these because there are tons of words out there that confuse the hell out of me, and probably you too J
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