Tag Archives: Definitions

Word of the Week #1 – Brevity

The Word of the Week for July 21-27 is Brevity

Blogging on Brevity:
I recently discovered one of my new favorite bloggers, Sophie Lizard.  (She actually gets PAID to blog – lucky girl!)  Her July 7th post was my inspiration for this week’s word of the week.  The entire post was about writing concisely, combining brevity and clarity to develop that perfect pithiness that readers crave – meaningful but brief content.  This is definitely an area where I struggle (obviously) but I am working on it.  The information in Sophie’s post is invaluable to any writer, not just bloggers.  (By the way, Sophie’s blog is sited in my resources. If you don’t already, you should consider following her blog. I highly recommend it.)

I have really enjoyed doing the research for my first Word of the Week.  Brevity, to me, is more than briefness.  Exercising brevity in one’s written work means intentionally keeping it simple and getting the point across without sacrificing content.  I am a work in progress and have yet to master this concept but I am excited at the thought of trying!

BREVITY
Pronunciation: brev·i·ty [brev-i-tee]
Definition of Brevity:
Dictionary.com (2013) defines Brevity as follows:
noun
1.shortness of time or duration; briefness: the brevity of human life.
2.the quality of expressing much in few words; terseness: Brevity is the soul of wit.
This was my favorite of all the definitions I found because it quotes Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit”.  I could easily get off on a tangent about why that statement is so true, why brevity is necessary for wit and visa-verse but I think I’ll save that for another day (read Sophie’s blog!)…

Dictionary.com also lists several synonyms. I don’t mean to insult anyone’s intelligence, but I feel I should revisit middle school English here, just in case.  (You never know who your audience may be.) I feel it’s important to consider language barriers, age, etc. A synonym is a word having either the same or close to the same meaning as another word.
Synonyms for brevity:  compactness, succinctness, pithiness

I especially like the word pithy.  Pithy (or pithiness) also implies briefness but includes a special meaningful quality, substance, or forcefulness.

Origins of Brevity:  The Oxford Dictionary (2013) credits the origin of brevityto the 15th Century Old French word brievete, meaning “brief”.  I found blog sites that argued the origins were Greek, but Greek is widely accepted as a sister language to Latin.  The Latin words bravitas or brevis also mean brief.  Since the “other sources” I found couldn’t provide any substantial evidence of Greek or Latin origins, I am inclined to believe The Oxford Dictionary in that the origins of the word are from the Old French.  My guess, as uneducated as it may be, is there was no real word for Brevity in the ancient languages (Latin, Greek, etc.) and perhaps the French invented it, stemming from the word for brief – be it Latin, Greek, French, or otherwise.

If anyone wants to suggest a word for a future Word of the Week, please feel free to leave a comment.  I am open to suggestions and keep a list.

Resources:
Brevity. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved July 23, 2013, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/brevity

Brevity. (2013). Oxford Dictionary. Retrieved from http://oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/brevity

Lizard, S. (2013). All Killer, No Filler: 6 Simple Tips for Concise Writing. Retrieved from http://beafreelanceblogger.com/how-to-write-concisely/

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Introducing Word of the Week

As part of my new blogging venture I am trying something new.  It is mostly for my own benefit but I hope that it will also benefit my readers. (I am officially up to 3 readers – yay!)  I want to share a new word every week.  I will research its meaning(s) and origin, share other sources on the subject, and hopefully write an entry focused on the use of the word or its meaning.  After all, a blog called What Are Words For? should seek out the purpose of words, how we use them, why we use them, etc.

I will likely post my “Word of the Week” articles on Saturdays, since that’s when I seem to have the most time; However, please don’t hold me to that commitment.  As this is a new blog, it’s easy for me to believe I will keep up on a weekly basis.  I would LIKE to believe it for myself, but sometimes things come up and I am well aware of my humanity. I embrace my inconsistencies.  Right now I am off work, and have been since Friday afternoon (the last 4 1/2 days if you’re counting) because I am battling a case of the Shingles – ON MY FACE (damn chicken pox).  I have a ton of time on my hands, can’t really stand to be out in the sun, and I get bored easily, so right now it’s easy.  To make promises of weekly posts chalked full of worthwhile information may be stretching it a bit. I am not really sure at this point, so please accept my apologies in advance if I post too early, too late, or not at all.  It’s not that I believe ANYONE would agonize in waiting for my next post.  This isn’t exactly nail-biting material, but I try very hard to be a woman of my word. Now that I have the preliminary disclaimers out of the way…

The Word of the Week for July 21-27 is Brevity

I encourage you to look it up, research it for yourself, and come back here this weekend to see what I have found.  I would also love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments!  I may not reply right away, but I will try very hard to keep up with comments/messages.  Happy word hunting!

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