It’s happened so many times: a word is on the tip of my tongue, and I reach for a thesaurus (metaphorically reach; I use an online thesaurus) only to find that the word I want doesn’t exist. Only the concept exists in my brain, but all existing English words lack the connotation I’m seeking.
I will describe the meanings for words I want. I won’t coin any words.
As you read each of these suggestions, you might think of terms that approximate the desired meaning. Feel free to suggest words where my vocabulary is simply lacking. However, also consider why the word you’re about to suggest might not capture the exact connotation I desire.
- A word that means “says”, but grammatically different, so you can write ‘Says Mary, “Hello, Henry!”’. So the word starts the sentence, as opposed to writing ‘”Hello Henry!” Mary said.’ It’s much better to know who’s talking before reading the quote. You can currently write ‘Mary said “hello Henry!”’, but that sounds a little awkward. I also would like another simple synonym for “said” to break up the monotony of dialogue-heavy writing.
- Word for “I’m about to quote something, but with a quote I just constructed as a devil’s advocate argument. I’m going to represent this view, that I don’t necessarily hold, in order to to rebuff it. I just need to state the view before I can reply to it.” I would use this all the time. The closest thing is, “you might think [explain view]; but in fact [explain counter-view]”. But that is really suboptimal, because you are accusing the audience of holding a view they might not, and it’s grammatically awkward, because it puts pressure on the writer to explain the view in one sentence. Other times, it suffices to just start a new line with a quote, but that prompts, “where did you get this quote from?” It sounds bad to say, “I made it up”, although that is useful in some cases. Naturally, there would also need to be an accompanying “close quote” word meaning, “I’m done, now back to my real opinion”. You might criticize that these words would be used to construct straw man arguments, however that is outweighed by the fact that it’s crucial for intellectual honesty to address existing or potential counter-arguments.
- Placeholder word, like the xyz as in “suppose you see movie xyz”, where xyz means that the specific movie doesn’t matter because you’re making a more general statement. The reason I don’t like the placeholder “xyz” is because it’s awkward to say and seems to imply a list of objects. You could drop the placeholder and simply say, “suppose you see a movie”. However, that might grammatically lack proper emphasis, because in some contexts the specific movie of which one sees is important, just not one specific movie. A placeholder word can also be equated to an argument of a function, as in programming: something you can refer back to. It gets complicated when you need to refer to multiple placeholders; in that case you’ll have to fall back on the existing convention of throwing up imaginary examples.
- Word like medium but not just for length, or like average but not just for statistics. A word you can always name the middle option on a menu, regardless of the purpose of the menu.
- Better word for “abstract”, because abstract connotes something similar to “opaque”. “General” is better, but not ideal. “Generic” connotes boring.
- Single word for “logically entails”. In mathematics the word for this is “implies”. However, common usage/causal meaning of the word “implies” means something closer to what mathematicians would call “implied by”. I want a word that always means “implies”, even in common usage. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I actually need a word for this, because “logically entails” does the job. I’m just annoyed that “implies” is flawed.
- Word for “so small it’s not even worth considering”, but in the sense that it is literally not worth considering whatsoever, as in 1 in 1 billion odds. In common usage, if you say, “the odds are extremely small”, then people can reply “so you mean there’s still a chance?”This word would mean that the chance is practically nonexistent. As in “that possibility is a statistical artifact, science technically has to measure it, but it is functionally zero”. It could operate as an academic term for “though technically there is a chance of [other option]”.
- On the flip side, a word for “functionally infinite”, “non-enumerable” and “asymptotically large”. It would mean, “such a big quantity of options it’s not possible to write down every option, even in a very compressed format”, to describe for example the number of possible chess moves, or the number of possible configurations of a deck of cards. Some people say “almost infinite”, but it doesn’t make much logical sense to be near-infinity.
- Word like “compensate for” but more active; “act on” but more emphasizing that it’s a response; “respond to” is the closest but that makes it seem like it’s about specific pieces of communication rather than a kind of broader effort. I want something that means, “work towards, made necessary by some thing whose effects they are trying to reduce.”
- A simple, polite positive affirmative, like the Japanese “hai”, or the English “got it” and “sounds good”. This would be a redundant term, because we already have those english phrases. However, I overuse those phrases, so I wish there was one more, or at least one that you were actually expected to overuse. I dislike overly-jargon terms like “roger” or “copy”. Which makes it awkward for me to propose this, because this word only works if everyone uses it all the time, and it won’t start out that way (in fact, it will be annoying if it only gets used some of the time). Here’s my motivation for wanting this. On slack, MS Teams, etc., I want another way to say, “I have read and understand you message”, other than adding a “like” to the message.
- A word for, “currently”, or “as it stands”, or “according to the status quo”, as in, “according to the status quo, libraries are not open on Sundays.”