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The List: Five words I love but might never be able to use as a journalist

Published: Thursday, April 3, 2014 3:27 p.m. CDT

Journalists, especially those writing for a daily newspaper, are somewhat limited in the words we can use.

We need to use words that are widely understood and clearly represent what happened or what the story is about. The words in a story shouldn't draw the reader's attention away from the story.

We're given a little more freedom when writing features stories, but there are still some words that will likely never be used. And it's unfortunate, because some of those words are my favorites.

My favorite word is provincial.

I went through a stretch a few years ago when I was reading a lot of books about the colonial United States and the Revolutionary War. That's the first time I can remember coming across this word on a consistent basis.

Most often, it was used in the context of the "provincial army" or the "provincial troops," or even when more generally referring to the rebelling colonists.

In its most basic form, provincial means someone who comes from a place or lives in a place far from large cities.

But it also can mean unrefined, so the word can easily be used as an insult. I can't think of many insulting things a person can be called that sound as complimentary as provincial.

And if I ever own a racehorse, I'm naming it Provincial.

Adjective: Limited in outlook; lacking the polish of urban society; of or relating to a decorative style (as in furniture) marked by simplicity, informality and relative plainness.

Noun: A person of local or restricted interests or outlook; a person lacking urban polish or refinement.

Example: The confidence man figured that fleecing these provincials would be easy.

And now for the honorable mentions that round out my five favorite words. The definitions and examples are from the Merriam-Webster dictionary app on my phone.


Transitive verb: To direct or impose by authoritative order or with urgent admonition; forbid or prohibit; to prohibit by a judicial order.

Example: Undeterred, the captain enjoined his crew to sail at full speed into the mine-filled harbor.


Noun: Harsh or discordant sound; harshness in the sound of words or phrases.

Example: The cacophony of a pet store full of animals.


Adjective: Crazy, mad

Example: [She] spent her last years as a totally bonkers recluse in a decaying mansion.


Noun: A noisy argument, fight, etc.

Example: The ruckus left one person with a sprained wrist.

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