And now our Lukewarm Word of the Day, Jejune.
I, Ms. Etta Mology have avoided this particular vocabulary vitamin until now. It seems inherently dishonest for a word to sound so lyrical and lovely and yet mean something so dull and blah. That’s right, word junkies, jejune, our tepid word of the day, originally meant lacking nutritive value. How inappropriate to have a vocabulary vitamin that isn’t even nutritious! Then jejune came to mean dull, devoid of significance, uninteresting, blah, beige on beige, boring to the nth degree, and even juvenile and childish. If the cognoscenti tell you your work is jejune, they are not complimenting you. Tragic, isn’t it, that jejune doesn’t sound boring or banal? It’s a waste of perfectly good “j’s” and “j” is one of my favorite consonants. Jejune sounds slightly French and summery, like a jitterbug with jeweled wings. But not so!
A Vocabulary Vitamin that means boring: Jejune.
If you had to pick a word to describe boring, insipid, meaningless, you would not pick “jejune.” But somebody did pick it, and now we’re stuck with it. It came from “jejunus” a Latin word for meager and hungry, and did not go far from its origin.
Why not a word that sounds boring? Blothid?
Now couldn’t they have come up with a word that sounds boring and insipid? “Blothid” perhaps? (A combo of blah and insipid.) No more beige and blah word than “blothid” could exist, but in fact it does not exist. I just made it up in an effort to give you something to say when your professor puts you to sleep, when a novel isn’t novel and when anything leaves you feeling barren and empty. “Blothid” is absolutely free, so use it in conversations and writing. Like all good words, it will be understood first by context, and eventually by definition. Someday we may see it in Webster’s, and you can say “I was there the day “blothid” was born.” You’re very welcome, I’m sure.
But back to jejune, our anything but Hot Word of the Day.
The American Heritage Dictionary gives these examples for the usage of jejune: Not interesting; dull: “and there pour forth jejune words and useless empty phrases” (Anthony Trollope). Or, lacking maturity, adolescent, childish: “surprised by their jejune responses to our problems.” Lacking in nutrition: “the jejune diets of the very poor.”
Our Vocabulary Vitamin as reported by Webster’s:
Etymology: Latin jejunus empty of food, hungry, meager
1: lacking nutritive value diets>
2: devoid of significance or interest :dull
– je• june• lyadverb S
– je• june• ness -ˈjün-nəs no
Synonyms for jejune, our Vocabulary Vitamin
(Formal)simple, silly, juvenile, naive, pointless, childish, immature, senseless, unsophisticated, puerile
(Old-fashioned)dull, dry, banal, prosaic, colourless, uninteresting, inane, insipid, wishy-washy(Informal), vapid
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002