I was reminded of the power of words today when I found a well-constructed post by my blogger friend , the East Coast Dan , over at No Facilities . He reads my posts and always makes the time to reply with consistently perspicacious comments .
He’s a technology professional who knows how to get right to the heart of the matter when the English language is involved . He referred to my use of the word “sycophant” in one of my posts , which was an insult aimed by a friend of mine at anyone who doesn’t hate Hillary . I include myself in that collection of non -haters , so I was being besmeared and besmirched on Facebook by my old buddy . I said in my post about this that I didn’t take it personally , but that I would work on it . No one wants to be considered a sycophant , after all , as far as I know . Anyway , the other Dan looked up the word “sycophant” on Google , as any tech pro would , I suppose.
It turns out that when a definition of an unfamiliar word is found , the definition provided tends to include another unfamiliar word , so the poor wordsearcher continues floating around in the thick mist of dubiety . Dan looked up “sycophant” and found a definition that included “obsequiously” . Then , of course , he pursued that , tapped down into the next level of definition , for that additional unfamiliar word , and found a definition with the word “servile”.
I know that feeling . The word is somehow familiar , but it’s so rarely used that the definition is impalpable . Such is life . I always feel , in those situations , that I really should know the meaning of the word . It’s a nagging feeling that I have known the meaning of the word at some point and have just forgotten it ; it’s on the tip of the tongue , but it doesn’t quite come to mind .
I have a sister who would know each and every word . I don’t . There’s an ancient Chinese saying that tells of the father who is happy that his son didn’t do well in his studies , so now the boy can look forward to a lucrative career in the government . Something like that . I wouldn’t quote it , true as it still might be , to the current Chinese government . They might not appreciate it . Anyhow , I don’t work for the government , but the concept seems to fit my situation . At any rate , I learned long ago in childhood the lesson that the other Dan learned recently — it’s no good looking up definitions . They will just dumbfound you more . Unless you’re my sister , of course .
No , I’m not a sycophant , and I’ll gainsay that intimation whether in person or on the net when I encounter it . I’m no lickspittle . Let me make that clear .