Make It Up…

I had to go to a walk-in clinic last week. The nurse at the front desk handed me a clipboard with some pages attached.

‘Can you please fill in your demographics then bring the forms back to me.’


‘Your demographics! Just fill them in and give me the form back.’

According to, this is the definition of Demographics:

The statistical data of a population, especially those showing average age, income, education, etc.

For years I have heard this trend of people using big words trying to make themselves sound smarter. They attempt to utilize grandiose verbiage with the intention of permitting othersto think they are more intelligent than they are. 

But here’s he problem…  If you succeed, you usually sound pretentious, and if you fail you just sound stupid.

In truth there is nothing wrong with using big words… If you know what they mean.  But when you don’t know, what’s the harm in using simpler words that everyone will know?

I am reminded of an event that happened in Basic Training. We were getting onto a bus to head to Jerusalem for our Swearing In ceremony. It was a big deal. I asked the Sergeant for help – I didn’t understand all of the words. My Hebrew was never perfect and although I am pretty fluent, there are still words that escape me. So he took me aside and translated. We got stuck on one word that he couldn’t explain. We eventually figured it out, but it took a few minutes to find someone whose English was better than his.

Later in the day I was asked to assemble the company in formation. I yelled out the commands, using a slang term for ‘G-d Help You’.  Sarge looked over at me and said ‘you know THAT word, but not the other?’ I felt foolish… But it was an honest mistake.

There are words we know and words we THINK we know. If you want to avoid looking stupid, stick to the sure thing… Unless you check your dictionary first!   


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