Ultracrepidarian

I had several ideas for writing this morning, but then I came across this word.   “Ul·tra·crep·i·dar·i·an.”

Of course, I love words, love finding new words, and I had to drop everything and look this one up.  If that was the goal of the person using this word in a comment on a web posting, well Mission Accomplished.

Before I checked, just looking at the word makes me think of something big or extreme (ultra), and something creeping (crep – the Urban Dictionary says creps are shoes).  “Dar,” by itself, is used as an acronym, but has little meaning of its own that I could find.  “Darian” is the Greek name meaning “gift,” but I doubt there is any hidden gift here.  And the suffix “ian,” by itself, means to have the same qualities of something.

Well, the word, all put together, means “expressing opinions on matters outside the scope of one’s knowledge or expertise,” and if you didn’t have to look that up, well kudos for you. 😊

I continued searching for the origin of this word, and according to a Roman tale, it did have to do with shoes.  It seems an artist, Apelles, would place his work in a public place and then hide to eavesdrop on the people critiquing his work.  Not happy with comments about the shoes on one of the subjects in his painting, and subsequent attempts to correct them, the artist came out of hiding and shouted at his critic, who was a shoemaker, “ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret” — in Latin meaning, “judge not above the sandal, shoemaker.”  “Ultra Crepidam” is a modified version of this quote.

So you see, the derivation of this word is as lengthy as the word itself.

I must say that, in the past, I’ve been a fan of certain abstruse words, long sentences, and longer paragraphs.  Those things worked in the legal arena.  But they’re not so impressive in the blogosphere.

Most people don’t have time, or don’t want to spend the time, looking up obscure words and their usage.  You won’t keep their attention if you drone on and on trying to sound important.  And come on, people don’t really talk like this.

When we’re blogging, unless we’re writing dialog or fiction, we’re kind of talking to each other.

People need short coherent statements.  Pauses and breaks to come up for air.  And no one is usually impressed when people try to make themselves look smarter than everyone else in the room.

The subject matter, where this person used this word, had to do with computer programs that “fingerprint” our computers based upon our web usage.  The concern was privacy.  And the commenter, expressing his opinion, was trying to criticize the author of an article on this subject that was published in the Washington Post.

Somehow, I kind of doubt this guy was more of an authority on the subject matter than the author of the article, and I think this kind of boomeranged on him.

Now before I extremely creep my way out of here like a cockroach this morning, any thoughts?  What do you think of using big words?  Long sentences?  Lengthy paragraphs?  Or the opposite?

How do you like to write?  And how do you like to read?

In Metta

LOGOz

Photo: The Pandora Moth.  It was fun watching these guys in the Northwest wilderness, but they are named, I assume, after the legend because their larva are so destructive that they can decimate a pine forest.

According to Greek mythology, after Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus sent Pandora to Prometheus’s brother, Epimetheus, and Pandora then opened the jar or box left in Epimetheus’s care, thus releasing many evils, such as sickness and death upon the world.

Now I’m not trying to imply that the use of big, ostentatious, words are evil, and they are certainly not the bearers of sickness and death, but they may just kill a conversation. 🙂

* You probably caught the fact that I was poking a little fun at myself here too – using words like abstruse, and ostentatious . . .

** And I just had another word-use thought.  I’ve used the word “decimate” above inappropriately.  As I learned from blogging friend Stuart Aken, this word really means to kill one in ten.  Over time, it’s meaning has become distorted to encompass a large number of people or heavy casualties.  Here is Stuart’s summary and links to all of his informative posts titled The Write Word.

 

 

 

 

19 thoughts on “Ultracrepidarian”

  1. My mother was a schoolteacher, loved words, reading and crossword puzzles(!). One of our games was to look up ‘big’ words in the dictionary to see is we could stump one another. She always won, of course, but it wasn’t until I got older, that I realized she was teaching me.
    I like descriptive words, sometimes flowery prose, and getting the right word to convey my meaning. So long as one is straight forward, I don’t mind ‘big words,’ (and I will ask if I don’t know a word), but if my BS meter detects someone trying to sound smarter/bigger than me or others, I’m outta there!
    Words are for communication and connection, if they fail to reach an audience, its all for naught.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It was. She passed way too early, sadly.
        I forget to mention earlier as an aside, I once was accused of talking ‘up’ to my kids. I was astounded. They were well beyond toddlerhood and I forgot what it was I saying, but the equivalent was I was using ‘canine’ when she thought I should be using ‘doggy.’ I explained that kids will learn whatever word you use, so why not use an adult one right out of the gate? I was vindicated years later (and still) when people remarked how articulate our kids were/are.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sorry to hear about your Mom. Glad you were vindicated. It’s been my understanding that if kids ask a question they’re ready for the answer. I assume your kids were ready for the terms you used 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sometimes a sentence has to be long, maybe very long even. Sometimes short. That’s just how it is!

    Once upon a time, I used the word “humidor” in the novel I was writing. A friend of mine was reading and got really annoyed. “You mustn’t use words people don’t understand!” he burst out and kept on arguing for a while.
    The circumstances, or should I say surroundings, in the story, made it at least fairly clear what it was all about, so I believe the matter was: HE didn’t know what a humidor was. He always had some quite “high” thoughts of himself, and as such he couldn’t take something he didn’t understand.
    Apropos, he knew all and everything about cars, and never hesitated to use difficult words concerning that field of knowledge. 🤔😉

    A humidor: “A container designed for storing cigars or other tobacco products at a constant level of humidity.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL regarding the humidor. My father smoked cigars and a pipe so I became familiar with that one very early. Your friend shouldn’t have been annoyed. I agree, some sentences should be long depending on how they’re being used and what information your conveying. I found the particular word, the subject of my post, to be a bit much for a ten word comment 😀 but hey, I learned something and had a topic to write about

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      1. Oh! He was as he was. Haven’t had any contact with him for more than ten years now. Nothing to be sorry about.
        It’s nice, to learn something new from things that happens. I like that! But I’ll probably not remember that… word… of yours.
        Oh! Already forgotten. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely not uncommon for people to speak beyond their knowledge. I kind of enjoyed the story about how the word came to be more than the word itself. It is a bit cumbersome, but it does get to the point 🙂

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    1. It’s fun to read the old legal opinions written by judges in the 1800s or early 1900s. They can be very poetic in a way, although very formalized, and it is not uncommon for them to have written single sentences of more than 200 words! The problem, of course, is once you have so many modifiers, adjectives, adverbs, and punctuation in a single sentence, it becomes quite blurred as to what portion of the sentence relates to what noun. That sentence (the one before this) was just 34 words and it is beginning to wander into the land of incoherence 🙂 I think the mind can process information in much smaller bites much more efficiently. And one can argue of the authors of old, that they were merely trying to impress, or confuse, their readers 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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