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WORDS THAT DESCRIBE LANGUAGE: The Fabulous Forty

1. abstruse: difficult to understand


2. artificial: a language invented for a specific purpose and based on a set of prescribed rules; not
genuine or natural
3. bombastic: speech or writing marked by an extravagance or affectation of style that the content does
not warrant; grandiloquent or pompous
4. colloquial: characteristic of or appropriate to the spoken language or to writing that seeks the effect
of speech; informal
5. concrete: of or relating to an actual, specific thing or instance; particular
6. connotative: suggest or imply in addition to a literal meaning; words with suggested or associated
meanings
7. cultured: educated, polished, and refined
8. detached: marked by an absence of emotional involvement, and an impersonal objectivity
9. diatribe: a bitter, abusive denunciation
10. eloquence: a form of persuasion involving word choices based on moving an audience
11. emotional: a strong feeling that arises subjectively rather than through conscious effort
12. esoteric: intended for or understood by only a particular group, restricted number of people
13. euphemistic: substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive
14. exact: strictly and completely in accord with fact; not deviating from truth or reality
15. figurative: based on or making use of figures of speech; metaphorical
16. grotesque: characterized by ludicrous or incongruous distortion as of appearance or manner
17. homespun: simple and homely; unpretentious
18. idiomatic: peculiar to or characteristic of a given language or a particular group of people
19. incongruous: lacking in harmony; incompatible and inconsistent
20. insipid: lacking flavor or zest; dull
21. jargon: a hybrid language or dialogue; a pidgin (nonsensical, incoherent, or meaningless language)
22. learned: demonstrating profound, often systematic knowledge; erudite
23. literal: conforming to the exact or primary meaning of a word or words; factual
24. moralistic: characterized by displaying the quality of being in accord with standards of right and
good conduct
25. obscure: not readily noticed or seen; ambiguous or vague
26. pedantic: characterized by a narrow, often ostentatious concern for book learning and formal rules
27. picturesque: strikingly expressive or vivid
28. plain: not elaborate or complicated; simple; unaffected and unpretentious
29. poetic: having a quality or style characteristic of poetry
30. precise: clearly expressed or delineated
31. pretentious: marked by an extravagant outward show; ostentatious
32. provincial: not fashionable or sophisticated; limited in perspective
33. schmaltzy: of or marked by excessive or maudlin sentimentality
34. scholarly: characteristic of knowledge resulting from study of research (in a particular field)
35. sensuous: appealing to a gratifying of the senses (aesthetics)
36. simple: not involved or complicated
37. slang: a kind of language occurring chiefly in casual and playful speech; made up typically of short-
lived coinages and figures of speech that are used deliberately in place of standard terms for added
raciness, humor, irreverence or other affect; (language peculiar to a group)
38. symbolic: expressed by the representations of something else by association, resemblance, or
convention
39. trite: lacking power to evoke interest through overuse or repetition; hackneyed
40. vulgar: deficient in taste, delicacy, or refinement; crudely indecent
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