That great philosopher Mark Twain once mused, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — ‘tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
Exactly. One of those two things is what kids put into jars during the summer to keep their rooms all aglow at night until their mother finds the smelly container under the bed six weeks later.
The other is what Benjamin Franklin tried to put into a jar with a key and a kite.
Neither attempt worked quite as well as when Thomas Edison packed the glow inside an upside-down glass jar and just shortened the whole thing to “light,” thereby inventing nighttime baseball games.
The point is, all these things with similar names are vastly different, so it is important to use the right words.
Fortunately, as a professional, duly licensed writer, I’ve collected a bunch of right words from various places. I keep them in a jar under my bed.
Let’s shine some light on a few of them:
Abdicate: To give up hope of a flat stomach.
Adult: A person who has stopped growing at both ends and now grows in the middle.
Avoidable: What a bullfighter tries to do.
Balderdash: A rapidly receding hairline.
Baloney: Where some hem lines fall.
Buoyant: A male insect found at picnics.
Brouhaha: A tea party full of laughs.
Burglarize: How a crook sees.
Butterfly: What happens when you throw a dairy product.
Coffee: The person on whom one coughs.
Counterfeiters: Workers who install kitchen cabinets.
Crackerjack: A device for lifting biscuits.
Debate: What lures de fishes.
Decaffeinated: A cow that just gave birth.
Depart: De white line down de middle of de hair.
Extravaganza: The spare vaganza kept on hand in case one runs out of vaganzas.
Eye Dropper: A clumsy ophthalmologist.
Flabbergasted: Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
Gargoyle: Olive-flavored mouthwash.
Gruesome: A little taller than before.
Ignorant: To disregard an insect found at picnics.
Instigator: What you add water to when you want an alligator.
Myth: A female moth.
Negligent: Absent-mindedly answering the door wearing only a nightgown.
Nightmare: A nocturnal horse.
Octopus: An eight-sided cat.
Out of Bounds: An exhausted kangaroo.
Paradox: Two physicians.
Parasites: What you see from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
Pasteurize: Too far away to see.
Pharmacist: A helper on the farm.
Polarize: What penguins see with.
Porcupine: A craving for bacon.
Relief: What trees do in the spring.
Rubberneck: What you do to relax your wife.
Sentiment: The perfume I intended to buy.
Toothache: A pain that drives one to extraction.
Ukraine: A device used to lift female sheep.
Vigilante: An observant aunt.
Send your right words — or almost right words — to Cole at burtseyeview@ tribtoday.com, to the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or to @BurtonWCole on Twitter.