Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Say what you mean

Word to watch: I was just reading a historical baseball story about the major-league owners looking to start a third big league in 1959. One sentence puzzled me: The owners reacted to the birth of the new league with disingenuous encouragement.

Obviously, disingenuous was the ringer. Did it mean that the owners were insincere? Did they go for it? Did they hate it? So I looked the word up.
lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity; falsely or hypocritically ingenuous; insincere: Her excuse was rather disingenuous.
1645–55; dis- 1 + ingenuous

Related forms:
dis⋅in⋅gen⋅u⋅ous⋅ly, adverb
dis⋅in⋅gen⋅u⋅ous⋅ness, noun
Yes, it means that baseball's team owners pretended to love the idea, but they didn't go for it. And it never happened.

Me, I'd never use disingenuous; I like to make my meaning crystal clear.

Another word: From the same story, this sentence smacks us: All through the winter and spring of 1960, the Continental League remained a Page 1 story, with Rickey using all of his orotund skills to sustain the belief that the new league was, as he put it, “as inevitable as tomorrow morning.”

It's orotund that gets us this time. The meaning:
1. (of the voice or speech) characterized by strength, fullness, richness, and clearness.
2. (of a style of speaking) pompous or bombastic.
1785–95; contr. of L phrase ōre rotundō, with round mouth

Related forms:
o⋅ro⋅tun⋅di⋅ty  /ˌɔrəˈtʌndɪti, ˌoʊr-/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [awr-uh-tuhn-di-tee, ohr-] Show IPA , noun
I was afraid that clearness was a meaning, since orotund is as clear as mud. I kinda like the other meaning: pompous or bombastic.

Blogs to watch: You might check out Writing Craft & Practice by Stephanie Golden. ... There's also Words by Bob, a blog that means to take a humorous approach to writing.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

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