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One of the things that I have learned in this business is to choose your words carefully. If I’m in a pitch for new business I’ve found I can lose the deal by saying the wrong thing (trust me, it’s happened more than once). After writing advertising copy for 30 years, I know the value of choosing the right words. As a former English major, I have struggled for decades to resist the temptation of using a big word when a smaller word will suffice….er, I mean “will do.”

My father was a smart man and had an extensive vocabulary. He could knock out a crossword puzzle in the Lynchburg News & Advance before he finished his second cup of coffee. However, he learned that when he used what he called “50 cent words,” it didn’t help communication, especially if the other person didn’t understand the meaning.

I’ve found that many people who use big words, such as the longest word in the English language, antidisestablishmentarianism, often do not actually know the meaning of the word and therefore use it improperly. This can be detrimental in life and in business. Nothing can ruin your personal or professional credibility like using a big word in the wrong context.

On a flight two weeks ago, I had to endure a flight attendant who read about and instantly fell in love with the word “expedite.” Despite not fully understanding the meaning, he made it an integral part of every announcement:

“Please expedite back to your seat, the captain has put on the seatbelt sign.” 
“Please be sure to expedite your bag into the overhead compartment, we are about to leave.” 
And finally, “Please expedite your work on your laptops and stow them for landing.”

I can’t think of a way to end this article, so I am going to expedite its completion.