Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Innocuous – Wordplay Wednesday™ 09/30/2020

Quietly Fall-ing into Raucous October! 

My absolute personal favorite month of the year is October, and it plays a heavy influence on this week’s word. Over all the holidays, with the exception perhaps of St. Patrick’s Day, I LOVE Halloween! In the beginning of the month, we see the leaves dropping, and the summer sweat finally disappears from our brows.

By the end of October, our pulses quicken and we celebrate the thin line between life and death (All Hallows’ Eve) in playful style, give pause to appreciate life, and pick up the pace toward a hopeful New Year.

But we’re not there yet. Last week marked the first day of Fall and the leaves are doing just that. For the final day of September and into October’s first few days, we’re featuring a word that is the exact opposite of things that “go bump in the night.” There is nothing frightening about …

INNOCUOUS ((i-ʹnä-kyɘ-wɘs; 1598) adj. – 1) producing no injury: harmless; 2) not likely to give offense or to arouse strong feelings or hostility: inoffensive, insipid. [WW #288]

I know what you’re thinking. Innocuous is not an obscure word! And you’re right, it’s mainstream. Yet one that doesn’t seem to be much used these days.

Innocuous may not fit neatly into fiction dialogue, except for certain fastidious or scholarly characters. It is, however, quite descriptive for non-fiction or critical comment … “The modern fairytale’s villain, meant to personify Halloween, was instead, an innocuous caricature of what flopped as an ominous storyline.”

Question: Are words of 3-plus syllables—once characterized as “them $10 words,” back in the day—disappearing from common language? It appears so, as we strive diligently to shorten our words like innocuous, and their meanings, to fit into 280 characters or a quick text message.

To get attention or evoke emotion today, we must go for shock value rather than lengthy but meaningful content. Arguments abound that youth is enhancing our language with their shortcuts and repurposed words. That may be, but the old adage still holds true—you need to “know the rules before you break them.”

In the process, new (or bad) habits are carried forward into all forms of writing, and we’re losing our sophisticated prose, don’t you think? Is your vocabulary well-rounded? Add a few more high-dollar words!

So, about October … if you’ve never put much meaning into the month of pumpkins and Halloween beyond scrumptious pies, goofy jack-o’-lantern grins and innovative costumes, stay tuned. October will be fun, informative, and frightening as we tiptoe around dark corners for a whole month of weird and otherworldly words!

Word Challenge: INNOCUOUS. It rather defines itself, in its desire to blend into the woodwork as we used to say. Consider the differences between mild-mannered September and raucous October, as you fit innocuous into your week of creative writings and clever conversations.

Learning knows no prejudices or boundaries, and it isn’t fattening! Expanding your mind is a no-cost, simple joy. Do you feel that way too? What’s your inspiration? Share your creative genius and Wordplay Wednesday comments below.

Write first for yourself … only then can you write for others. (L.Rochelle) 

Cheers to learning a new word today! 



[LinDee Rochelle is a writer and editor by trade, and an author by way of Rock & Roll. She has published two books in her Blast from Your Past series (of three) about pioneering R&R Radio DJs. True behind-the-mic tales make GREAT Holiday and anytime Gifts available on Amazon (eBook and print): Book 1Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The First Five Years 1954-1959; and Book 2Rock & Roll Radio DJs: The Swinging Sixties. Coming soon … The Psychedelic Seventies!]

*LR Notes: 1) Dictionary definitions are quoted from Webster’s New World College Dictionary. Yes, we sometimes present them out of “official” context—but that’s half the fun! Think of it as “creative context.” 2) a] Recent dictionary additions to definitions include a date of first use, if known; b] words in small caps indicate “see also.” 3) Neither I (LinDee Rochelle) nor Penchant for Penning are responsible for how you use information found here, that may result in legal action.



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