Big Words

I used to work with a guy who liked to use big words. One of his favorites was “pulchritude.” It means “physical beauty,” which is certainly a nice thing to have or to behold. But it sounds like it means something else. A foul smell, maybe, or a state of physical decay. Imagine seeing that word for the first time. If you think it describes something bad, you can’t possibly understand what the author meant to say.

“Notoriety” is a different kind of word. It’s used interchangeably with “fame,” but it shouldn’t be. If you have notoriety, you’re notorious. You don’t become notorious for doing the right thing. You probably want to achieve some level of fame in your chosen pursuit – we all do. But we don’t want that subset of fame we call notoriety.

What happens when you use words like these in your own communications, in your emails, blog posts, articles, and books? Part of the audience will misunderstand your message, because you’ve used words that don’t mean what most people think they mean. And part of the audience will dismiss you because you’ve used a word in a way that suggests you don’t know its actual definition.

Between those extremes is language that conveys exactly what you mean to say, that can’t be misinterpreted.

Think of one of the most famous declarations of the twentieth century, delivered by President John F. Kennedy in his inaugural address in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Complex thoughts can be expressed with simple words. And simple thoughts can be expressed with words that make them seem profound, if not magical. But nothing worth saying can be expressed with words you or your intended readers don’t understand.

Lou Schuler, C.S.C.S., is a journalist and author or coauthor of many popular books about strength training and nutrition, including, most recently, The New Rules of Lifting for Abs with Alwyn Cosgrove. A former fitness editor of Men’s Fitness magazine and fitness director of Men’s Health, he’s contributed to a long list of newspapers and magazines, including Shape, Men’s Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, and Fit Pregnancy.

You may also like
How to Create a Social Media Profile that STANDS OUT!
Product Branding: Coming Up with a Great Name
  • kwiaciarnia wysyłkowa Mar 30,2013 at 5:20 am

    Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It actually used to be a enjoyment account it. Glance complicated to more introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how can we be in contact?

  • Kerrill Nov 20,2012 at 4:45 pm

    I just wanted to jot down a simple message so as to thank you for those awesome items you are giving here. My time consuming internet look up has now been honored with incredibly good points to exchange with my two friends. I ‘d admit that most of us readers are truly lucky to be in a wonderful website with so many awesome individuals with useful solutions. I feel quite happy to have encountered the web page and look forward to really more thrilling times reading here. Thanks again for everything.

  • Monroe Ramson Jul 24,2011 at 5:58 pm

    After I in the beginning made a comment at I clicked on the – “notify me”- checkbox and after this whenever the latest feedback is put in within Copywriting 101 | Ryan Lee web site, I get few emails utilizing the similar remark. Is there by any means it is possible to eliminate me out of that program? Thank you!

  • Monster Beats Clearance Jul 4,2011 at 1:07 pm

    Often We don’t put up on blogs, but I want to state that this particular set up truly forced me personally to do this! seriously fantastic post

  • Georgene Brugler Feb 20,2011 at 3:34 pm

    Thank you for giving this particular excellent subject material on your website. I discovered it on the internet. I may check to come back if you publish additional aricles.

  • Toby Boore Jan 2,2011 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful ideas, It was precisely what I was looking for

  • pozycjonowanie Dec 28,2010 at 1:34 am

    Great Blog ! Regards.

  • pets Dec 21,2010 at 6:31 am

    I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this blog. I am hoping the same high-grade blog post from you in the upcoming as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.

  • wrestling workouts Dec 6,2010 at 7:18 pm

    The KISS technique for copywriting! I really enjoyed this post. Clear, concise and full of great tips…Thanks!!

  • Lou Schuler Nov 18,2010 at 7:11 am

    Thanks to the fitness and marketing professionals for the kind responses, and thanks to the spammers for pointing out the many benefits of hair restoration, organ enhancement, and … whatever else all those spammers are trying to get us to click on.

  • Thanh Mendrin Nov 18,2010 at 6:01 am

    Very good luck on your web site, and feel free to visit and comment on my blog site as properly! :)

  • Dylan Sculley Nov 18,2010 at 4:57 am

    Hello,guys,your blog is really great! I like it.

  • Hair Loss Victim Nov 18,2010 at 4:11 am

    I’m not going to lie this really is one of the few sites I truly enjoy reading through and it’s because of top quality content like this. Keep up the great job, these are definitely very helpful blogposts.

  • Quentin Witkowski Nov 18,2010 at 4:05 am

    Well, this is my original curb prohibited for your webpage! We??re a association of volunteers and commencing a variety fresh drive in a community in the twin niche. Your weblog offered us useful observations to work on. You maintain done a out of this world suzerainty!

  • Los Angeles Home Inspection Nov 18,2010 at 3:47 am

    Interesting thoughts here. I appreciate you taking the time to share them with us all. It’s people like you that make my day :)

  • 2011 challenger Nov 17,2010 at 10:13 pm

    This is good stuff, its great to be in the know.

  • Link Building Nov 17,2010 at 6:41 pm

    I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.. :)

  • cats Nov 17,2010 at 6:31 pm

    Outstanding This really is one of the most beneficial blogs I’ve ever read on this subject.

  • Mighty Joe Nov 17,2010 at 2:52 pm

    Great article. Simple words. I like. 😉


  • Barry Lovelace Nov 17,2010 at 2:44 pm

    Love it!

    Thanks Lou….been saying this for years, but not in the intelligent way have said it :)

    PS – new burrito place in Bethlehem if you ever want to go for lunch again.

  • does vigrx plus make penis bigger Nov 17,2010 at 1:50 pm

    this is really a great post.. very informative

  • Cameron Makarchuk Nov 17,2010 at 1:35 pm

    Great post!

    I guess it’s a good thing my vocabulary isn’t large enough to confuse anybody! 😉

    Simple and to the point…that’s how I do it!

    Cameron Makarchuk

  • Busy Man Fitness Nov 17,2010 at 12:25 pm

    Well said,

    Confusing your audience will NEVER help them much unless you are embedding hidden content on a recording and you are hoping a few people get the inspiration to research your choice of words in a dictionary.

    However, consider this…

    If you, in the midst of speech, say something like this:

    “She was so amazingly beautiful, she had such pulchritude, that she was a glowing wonder to everyone who saw her.”

    You not only pre-define your confusing vocabulary, but you demonstrate to be someone having a higher vocabulary. This can psychologically gain trust from people looking to have an intelligent guru with a large vocabulary (diction fans and English Majors).

    Of course, this is very easy to do when writing because you have the aid of an online dictionary.

    It however, is VERY difficult to do in speech, when you are in the moment and you don’t have time to think of the proper way to arrange your sentences.

  • Steve Payne Nov 17,2010 at 12:23 pm

    The secret to a complex life is simplicity, and avoiding obfuscation and sesquipedalianism at all cost is a good start.


  • Ronald Daleo Nov 17,2010 at 11:52 am

    I wanna say your article is superb sparkling a lot of thanks and please keep up the amazing work.

  • Bill Covert The Accelerator Nov 17,2010 at 11:39 am

    Being able to relate to your target market is the main key to writing. Save the esoteric writing for your core group… if you feel the need to express your brilliance.

  • Daily World News Nov 17,2010 at 11:27 am

    I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case. :)

  • Bryan Walsh Nov 17,2010 at 11:15 am

    Hemingway considered his best work to be a six word novel someone once challenged him to write.

    “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

    More than ever, less is more.



  • Genny Nov 17,2010 at 10:46 am

    Greetings :) Is it ok that I go a bit off topic? I am tryin to look at this website on my new Macbook but it won’t display properly (a few of the areas are almost completely covered), do you have any recommendations? Should I try to find an upgrade for my software or something? Thanks in advance! Genny x :)

  • Akilah Stribley Nov 17,2010 at 9:25 am

    great article well worth a read ! best of luck for the future. p.s fantastic website youv’e done a wonderful job in creating a informative website on subject’s such as these ! i currently work for this web organization political affairs board. And found this website to have some really interesting articles. i have passed this article onto some close colleagues who should find this well worth a read.

  • shopping blog Nov 16,2010 at 5:26 pm

    This site is the most useful thing i’ve seen for a while. Thanks!

  • vigrx plus Nov 16,2010 at 2:50 pm

    i really like this site.. thanks

  • Ryan Lee Nov 16,2010 at 11:15 am

    I am such a BIG fan of Lou Schuler.

    I remember reading his articles when I was a Men’s Health subscriber around 10 years ago. And I still pinch myself I can call Lou a friend – and now he’s writing for my site!

    He’s got more coming too…

  • Pat Rigsby Nov 16,2010 at 11:13 am

    Wonderful insight from a brilliant guy. Great stuff Lou!

  • books in english Nov 16,2010 at 10:34 am

    Nice info. I too found something similar and Nice 2 days ago.

  • Tilburg Nov 16,2010 at 8:57 am

    Hi thanks for yet another funny and good post. Where do you get your inspiration for all this :|? – Tilburg

  • Sherry Douse Nov 16,2010 at 8:02 am

    Finding your site was just as easy as finding da Youngfellaz. Those guys even have a great myspace page, Jay Storm and Shobiz are a perfect addon to your site. I found them the same way I found your site. The search for good hip hop.

Leave Your Comment

Your Name*
Your Webpage

Your Comment*