Ya know, this seems pretty obvious – almost so obvious it shouldn't be the first thing you read in a book about how to write definitions. But it has to be said. It has to be said because all too often we read something in our business lives (not so much for entertainment, thank the universe) that just doesn't make sense. In some instances, the author wants to "sound smart" by using "big words". As an example, here's a paper from a student I read the other day:
"The dialectical interface between neo-obstructionists and anti-disestablishment GOPers is stuck in a morass of quibbling over pettifog."
The paper was about discussions between students and lawmakers over stricter gun laws for assault weapons. The sentence, in plain English, reads as this:
"The logical discussions between student protesters and Republican lawmakers resisting change is bogged down because of arguing over petty things."
In some instances, the author just uses the wrong words. One famous example, used in many word choice articles, is as follows:
"Cree Indians were a monotonous culture until French and British settlers arrived."
What the author meant was that Cree Indians were a homogenous culture.
So, before we get started on a conversation about definitions, when picking your words, if you run across words you don't use often, ask yourself these basic questions:
If you don't know what you are talking about, no one else will either.