March 25, 2020
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Here are a few common English words that are sometimes misused or misunderstood.
Elegant – tasteful, graceful, comely, beautiful. It does not mean elaborate or ornate. An elegant solution is one that is ingeniously simple and completely solves the problem. The root meaning is carefully selected.
Eloquence – fluent and effective use of language, persuasive speaking or writing. Eloquent and loquacious are from the same root and both indicate a love for words. An eloquent person knows exactly what a word means and how to use it to greatest effect. In the case of a loquacious person, one might have to try and discern what that person thinks he is saying.
Perfect – thoroughly done, complete. When used of people it means fully grown. It does not mean flawless. The perfect tool for a job is not necessarily the newest or shiniest. It may show the effects of years of use, but if it can be used effectively to do the job at hand we say it is perfect. A perfect person is not one who never makes a mistake, but one who is mature and takes responsibility for his actions.
Quality – fitness for use. I worked for years in quality assurance, was certified by the American Society for Quality Control as a Quality Engineer. Those three words were the official ASQC definition of quality. Quality is not defined by appearance, but by usefulness. A high priced car that loses 80% of its value in the first three years, because that’s about how long the motor lasts, is not a quality vehicle. A car that costs half as much when new, and is still running dependably after three years is better quality.