Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rare Words in My Productive Vocabulary: Munificence

Google image search needs to get its head out of its ass.

So, I've started this thing where, once a week, I see what rare word I can think of off the top of my head; Then I run a google search to see what kind of pompous ass is using it. I also run an image search to provide random flava to the post.

This week my subconscious conjured up the word munificence, which is a fancy way of saying generosity, extravagant generosity.

If somebody gives you a bottle of wine, you might say 'Your munificence astounds me, sir.' Depending on what type of company you keep, your audience will either appreciate your playful use of a rare word or look at you like you're an alien replicon from beyond the moon. Either way, you will have improved your odds of being perceived as wordy.

Caveats (Warnings)

The danger of looking like an idiot with this word is minimal. It can be substituted for generosity safely, just be aware that munificence implies extravagant generosity. For instance, if you use it as a compliment and with the explicit intention of sounding flowery, the chances that somebody will think you are a pompous ass are fairly small. Of course, there is a pompous ass at every party, and if you can't figure out who that person is, then it's you.

My First Encounter
I first learned the word while I was in college. One of my professors called out a fellow student for her inveterate use of 'munificent aphorisms'. After looking up both words (an aphorism is a short pithy statement), I came to the conclusion that this was the coolest put down I had ever heard.

This picture has something to do with extravagant generosity being a virtue. If you were a roman sculptor who is dependent on the munificence of the Emperor, you would call it a virtue as well.

Who's Using It Online?
The first non-dictionary and non-academic use comes from the the blog MaxOutMama. The post is about some bullshit called muni bonds and how they are taxed. I don't know about all that, but the author, presumably a woman, cleverly used alliteration (repeated word-initial sounds: Magic Muni Munificence) and a very pun-licious repetition of 'muni' (Muni Munificence).

I have no idea what the rest of the post is about, but I can appreciate this type of literary creativity anyway. My appreciation is somewhat mitigated by the fact that munificence is one of those rare literary words that business and financial types would be expected to know, as they suckle from the munificent fiduciary discharge of capitalism's teat.

If you are one of those types, it might be worth working 'munificence' into your next round of golf. Greedy bastards are more likely to part with some of their cash if you give them empty compliments. Of course, that would make you a sycophant, more commonly known as a phony. If your colleague reads this and manages to work the word munificent into the conversation before you do, go ahead and call him a sniveling sycophant. That should set right again, or make you both look like the type of wordy hippies that have no right to make business decisions.

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