Tag: challenging words

The Vocabulary Pit of Despair – “yearn”

case of the bag of meat

Last night I said to my fellas “Y’all are quibbling” and Max informed me that I am not allowed to say “y’all” because I (apparently) constantly make fun of people saying it.  Making fun of something precludes you from being “allowed” to use it (he says this is a well known RULE).  To be fair (and he wasn’t being fair) the only time I make fun of anyone saying “y’all” are people who use it as punctuation.  It’s exhausting to my ear.  The truth is I only make fun of Paula Deen using it because she does it with a southern drawl so drawn out and shrill she sounds like a cat yowling in a fight.  And she uses it excessively.  I have a lot of friends who say “y’all” (some who are southern, some who are not) and it doesn’t bother me one whit that they use it.

I happened to have said it by accident though.


For general writers this is tough enough to carry off.  It brings to mind a flaccid princess committed to a life of inaction which has given her plenty of reason to YEARN for things.  “Yearn” is a word people use when they want to pluck at your heart – but it comes off as corny or manipulative.  For food writers, this word is even worse.  How ridiculous is it to “yearn” for steak and eggs?  But worse than that is suggesting that your food “yearns” for – well – ANYTHING.  Food does not have human emotions.  Some writers have found this confusing.

The one exception to the challenging use of this word is in humor.  “Yearning” is quite useful in sarcastic and satirical writing.



I’m not a vocabulary snob.  In fact, I’m not a language snob.  I’m not even a grammar snob.  All of these things are tools for communication in a very colorful, constantly shifting world.  Language is just another way to express all the stimuli we experience in our lives.  As such it must be somewhat fluid, flexible, and accommodating as well constantly evolving to meet the needs of new generations and technology.

Even so, it is exquisitely fun to share my opinions of words on a regular basis.  If I trash any words you happen to love – just know that I inevitably love to use some words that make you feel like your head is being dragged through a swamp.  It’s okay. It’s not only okay – you and me liking and hating different words means there is more variety of words being used on the whole.  And that’s what keeps our language vibrant – that we all have different tastes in words.

De gustibus non est disputandum is a patently untrue maxim.  Disputing taste makes for lively discussion as long as we respect each other at the end of the day for having different tastes.