Misology and Other Words In the News

By Maeve Maddox

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As an avid reader for more years than I care to mention, I have a reasonably large reading vocabulary, if I say so. During the past few months, however, I am encountering more and more unfamiliar words in my daily perusal of various newspapers and websites.

My theory is that journalists, bored beyond endurance with the utter sameness of daily and weekly rehashes of what seem like the same five topics that dominate the news, are reaching for variety with exotic words.

As a word-nerd, nothing delights me more than coming across something new and strange. I do wonder what other readers think of words like misologist, immiserate, and instatiated, thrown without explanation into a run-of-the-mill news item.

The US Department of Health and Human Services places the average American reading level at seventh grade. The reading level of both the New York Times and USA Today is said to be tenth grade, perhaps still a bit low for some of these words.

Although online newspapers offer readers the option of clicking for a definition, I question how many of them do it. My skepticism stems from the fact that so few bloggers bother to make use of spellcheck apps.

Here are some of the cool new (to me) words that have sent me to the dictionary recently.

fungible
being something (such as money or a commodity) of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in paying a debt or settling an account; capable of mutual substitution; interchangeable; readily changeable to adapt to new situations; flexible.

The whole point of issuing bonds is that they’re tradable, fungible, and anonymously held.—The Atlantic.

immiserate
the act of making miserable; economic impoverishment.

Culturalists may consider individuals and cultures more responsible for immiseration than liberals do, but the basis for both ascriptions of responsibility is identical.—The Underclass Question (1992), edited by Bill E. Lawson.

instantiate
to represent (an abstraction) by a concrete instance.

In a world where people are interconnected but they disagree, institutions are required to instantiate ideals of justice.—Introduction to Political Theory (2018), Devoreaux Ford.

misology
hatred of reason or discussion; also, hatred of learning or knowledge. One who practices misology is a misologist.

[Natural Law’s] articulation and defense are of particular urgency in our times, characterized as they are by the ascendancy of relativism and misology, a chaos of flaccid hedonism and forceful decisionism, and general moral confusion.—Natural Reason and Natural Law (2019), James Carey.

monopsony
an oligopsony limited to one buyer.

Only a huge government single payer, with the power of a monopsony, can enforce affordable rates across state lines, and across communities.—Forbes.

oligopsony
a market situation in which each of a few buyers exerts a disproportionate influence on the market.

The U.S. fast-food industry is an excellent example of an oligopsony. In this industry, a small number of large buyers (McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, etc.) controls the U.S. meat market.—Investopedia.

pelagic
of or pertaining to the open or high sea, as distinguished from the shallow water near the coast; oceanic.

Typically small, many pelagic fish have frightening, otherworldly looks.—Fox News.

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5 Responses to “Misology and Other Words In the News”

  • Madlyn F Springston

    I enjoy finding new words when I am reading literature. Finding them in news articles is a different story. Using words that probably most readers don’t know does not help to transmit clear information.

  • Isaac Ge

    Okay. If I can read New York, I have surpassed the average American reading level already.

  • Gloria Tran

    What drives me crazy in reading the news is that reporters often now often utilize current slang words and text abbreviations, such as DM (for direct message). Instead of reaching for Websters, I am searching the Urban Dictionary website. I have seen this in print magazines and serious online articles in addition, of course, to the ubiquitous comment sections.

  • venqax

    Misology is especially useful. I’ve come to like vermicular : worm-like, as done by worms. 🙂

  • Maeve

    venqax,
    Misology is probably the word of the century. The one I like is “fungible.” It’s fun to say.

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