We were happily editing our way through the day, when we came across a watch-list word in text about a positive step a beleaguered company was taking to reverse its decline: “It served as the launching pad for a whole new growth phase that enervated all concerned.”

Oh, enervate, you sneaky little word, you. Charlatan! Mountebank! Knave! You sound impressive and exotic. We want to trot you out to show off our eloquence. And – oh hubris! – you beat us at our own game, for you are not what you seem.

Many, many people think enervate is a fancy-schmancy way to say energize, wake up or rejuvenate. In fact it is quite the opposite. To enervate is to sap the energy, weakening or destroying mental and physical vigor.

SupermanLois Lane energizes Superman. Kryptonite enervates him.

Proscribe is another wily word. Proscribe is a tricky fellow. It looks like prescribe, and it’s got that positive-sounding “pro” on the front, so many folks think it must mean “tell you to do something.” Wrong again. It means to prohibit or condemn, e.g. “Grandma proscribed skateboarding in the house.”

  • DO put enervate and proscribed on your watch list. They are tricky.
  • DON’T be afraid of using uncommon words – they can make writing more fun. Just make sure you use them correctly.

Have a marketing challenge? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email¬†[email protected].

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