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Should one be able to explain the meaning of every word one uses?

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I feel that I can't explain the meaning to any words that I use and yet i'm using them. Why?

8 Answers

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  • 2 months ago

    If asked, a person should be prepared to explain the meaning of a word they're using.  Otherwise, the logical answer is that a person should NOT use a word that he/she does not understand.

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  • edward
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Eventually it’ll get to a point where we can no longer explain the word. Using the words is context is usually how people know what it means

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  • RP
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Not necessarily because many words as part of a phrase have meanings that do not always correspond to the individual definitions of those words. In such instances, the whole is different, and often greater than, the sum of the parts.

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  • blank
    Lv 5
    2 months ago

    Absolutely.   Understanding the meaning of the word well enough to explain it ensures you know exactly what you are trying to say.  All too often people think they know what a word means, only to mis-use it:  causing untold amounts of confusion and/or offense.

    I'm going out on a limb here, but I would guess you feel the way you do is because you understand the meaning of most of the words you use so well that it has become second nature.    <--- all the words in that long sentence are so common, that nobody stops to think about what each one means.  If you do, then it starts to feel weird.

    This situation is best demonstrated (in my mind) when you talk to someone about color.  Is this blue?    We all know what "blue" is, and all understand that it (and all color) has a range..... yet, we get tripped up all the time when we try to discuss it.   Hense the "how blue is blue?" phrase.

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  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    No, but you should understand what they mean, so you don't use them wrong.

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  • jehen
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Sure, if you expect other to understand what you are trying to say. Using words you don't understand is fraught with meanders and prestidigitation.

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  • 2 months ago

    That would be better than using words that you are not easily able to at least explain what they are supposed to mean, yes. I am sure that you use words and could restate the idea using other words even if you are not precisely clear as to the total meaning of a word.  That is not all that unusual.  Some words are hard to give a meaning to.  Like love or beauty, justice, things like that. Colors even. Adverbs and idioms also fall into that gray area of "I don't know exactly how to say what it means but I know what idea it gives when used."  Even if you would have trouble defining the word, you would have less trouble explaining the idea behind the word as used.

    Of course, there are a lot of words that you likely use incorrectly when you only have a vague idea of what they "mean".  So care is recommended if you want to avoid embarrassment or misunderstandings.

    Words are funny things.  We use them yet often cannot actually say what they "mean" even if we don't go all Humpty-Dumpty and use words to mean what we want them to mean and nothing else without regard to what others might think.

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  • 2 months ago

    It is a pretty good idea to know what you are saying. You probably know the usage of words more than you think. There are many words that do not have a "meaning" but are used to connect or modify other words.  Take the word "the" it has a use but not a real meaning. .

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    As an example: The can be used to point forward to a following qualifying or defining clause or phrase.

    "the fuss that he made of her" 

    • Ray2 months agoReport

      In a way you can explain how to use the word "the" so you can explain really well.

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