The very first item in a writer’s arsenal is words. We learn these words via everyday conversation and reading. Sometimes we might even look them up if we don’t know the meaning.
And, sometimes we may use a word in our writing when we think we know the meaning. Most of the time we get away with it because the way we use it is close enough to the way we’ve always heard it or read it; so maybe we mostly know the meaning. I have been guilty of this, although I have to admit that these days I look up an awful lot of words before using them (it’s so convenient when you’re hooked up to Google), and this isn’t always because I don’t know the meaning, but I want to determine whether any nuances make it a better word to use.
But that’s me. Going off on a tangent.
What brings me to this post today is the word touché. Here is the definition of touché via Google’s dictionary thingie.
(in fencing) used as an acknowledgment of a hit by one’s opponent.
- used as an acknowledgment during a discussion of a good or clever point made at one’s expense by another person.
In the past couple of months I have read this word used incorrectly in two different published (not indie) novels. In both cases it was used as agreement. Simple agreement. So the author was kind of right but mostly wrong. However, that means that the editor and the proofreader also didn’t understand the nuance or didn’t care (hopefully not the latter because that would make me sad).
In the last case, the author is an English Professor. And this makes me very sad. In my oh-so-humble opinion, touché is not a tough word because in most contexts the meaning comes across. You would think an English Professor would not only know the definition but might also be one of the first individuals to verify that they were using a word correctly. How do you grade Comp 101 and sleep at night if you aren’t using words correctly?
This may quickly devolve into a rant. So I’ll sum up.
Use your dictionary. Use a thesaurus. Make sure that the words you are using are actually the right ones for the job. It makes your writing
And, hey, we all love the words. I don’t think we’d be writing otherwise.
Categories: Writing Reader Observations