Big words are good, or no?

"Never use a long word where a short one will do." -George Orwell People got pretty pissed about Stephanie Meyer and her raping the thesaurus. It's actually been made into a really big deal, and some of the first advice that people give to young writers is to-- as Orwell put-- never use long words... show more "Never use a long word where a short one will do."
-George Orwell

People got pretty pissed about Stephanie Meyer and her raping the thesaurus. It's actually been made into a really big deal, and some of the first advice that people give to young writers is to-- as Orwell put-- never use long words when you can use a short one.

However, I think it's pretty obvious to anyone who's read anything by Orwell that he didn't follow that rule very well himself. Actually, most classic authors don't follow that rule.

Why should we have to dumb ourselves down so that society can understand us?

I'm just curious and in no way am I defending S. Meyer. I'm just wondering where writers should draw the line between having a good vocabulary and "raping the thesaurus".
Update: You see just recently I wrote an essay for English class, and for some dumb reason, my English had me and two other kids in the class stand up and read it out loud because apparently our papers were best of all. (Speaking for myself, I think that the rest of the class must have had some pretty horrible papers if... show more You see just recently I wrote an essay for English class, and for some dumb reason, my English had me and two other kids in the class stand up and read it out loud because apparently our papers were best of all. (Speaking for myself, I think that the rest of the class must have had some pretty horrible papers if mine was considered one of the best.)

Anyway, when I was finished reading the paper, one kid said "She sure used enough big words...."
I was kinda shocked, since the longest word I used was "unabridged".
So I was wondering if perhaps I should have replaced "unabridged" with "full version" so that perhaps my paper would be understandable.
???
Update 2: @Goldfish- You'd think that at least. But sadly no. Though maybe it wasn't "unabridged" he was referring to.... "Deliberately" maybe? As I said, we shouldn't have to dumb ourselves down so that society can better understand us. (Because we're using such difficult-to-understand... show more @Goldfish- You'd think that at least. But sadly no. Though maybe it wasn't "unabridged" he was referring to.... "Deliberately" maybe? As I said, we shouldn't have to dumb ourselves down so that society can better understand us. (Because we're using such difficult-to-understand words....)
Update 3: Oops, I just realized I skipped the word "teacher" in my additional details. Sorry!
18 answers 18