Playwriting

Words, Word, Words

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of words. They help me make my living after all. Some of it has to do with the fact that I have a pretty poor vocabulary – I always seem to be writing characters who have a way more developed linguistic sensibility than mine. I’m especially fond of efficient words, single words that do the job of a whole bunch of words:

  • paroxysm: any sudden or violent outburst.

Words die every day. In doing work on my Poe adaptation, it’s amazing how many words he uses, that no longer exist. The tag line of The Masque of Red Death is this:

“And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.”

So, what does illimitable mean? And since it’s not a word we see or use every day, do I change it to something teens and middle school students will grasp the meaning of? Do I leave it in and include a definition? Do I leave it and make them figure it out on their own? This is an important sentence and one I’m not interested in losing, but the presence of illimitable is something I’ll have to deal with. (if you feel like guessing, please do! If you know, please share how it’s a part of your vocabulary. If you don’t feel like looking it up, It’ll be posted on our facebook page)

On the Guardian website this week there was this post about obsolete words coming out of the Collins English dictionary. Again, I don’t believe I’m familiar with any of the words:

  •  wittol”” a man who tolerates his wife’s infidelity (a very efficient word)
  •  supererogate – to do or perform more than is required.

It will be interesting to see what words will stick around in the next 100 years and what ones will be considered obsolete.

About the author

Lindsay Price

4 Comments

  • Never heard it, but the meaning is obvious both from context and breakdown of the syllables. Leave it. Any reader who can’t figure this one out needs more education. 

  • LOL…I agree. Leave it. The educational bar is set so low these days, books with words, both new and old, that aren’t used in everyday language are a blessing in disguise.

    -Javon

  • What I suspect I will do is leave it till the workshop and then I’ll get to hear what it sounds like. The sound of the word, and how that last sentence drops will be the determining factor…