And The Word Is, Jejune.

Jejune (adjective)

How many times have you heard the word jejune uttered in your lifetime?

One hundred? Once? Never?

Have you read it in your favourite novel?

Any idea what it means? (No peeking in the dictionary.)

More importantly, can you use it in a sentence?

sentence:

Many people said that his writing style was jejune.

Know what it means now?

No?

I’m not surprised.

This was the first word for January in a Word of the Day calendar that came from the Dollar Store. It was the first time I’ve run across the word.

Okay, just so you know not all the words in the calendar are as obscure as jejune. Many of the words in the calendar would be helpful in expanding our word power. Lets face it, most of us are not walking dictionaries. We can benefit from a little vocabulary expanding from time to time.

I used to think that using long, extravagant words went hand and hand with good writing. I used to think that the key to publication was wowing some editor with how big, how impressive my vocabulary was. I mean, aren’t writers supposed to know all the words? Story is important but so is the use of words. If big words = good writing, it’s as good as in the bag, isn’t it?

That’s what I used to think, way, way back when publication felt like a pipedream, the idea of which was held together by a wish and a prayer, but had very little with the actual writing involved. Good writing takes time to master. Even after we think we’ve mastered it we make mistakes.

I now know that good writing has nothing to do with the length of the words we use, but rather the way we use those words. Good writing is capturing the reader’s attention, holding it in the palm of our hand, showing them different worlds, different realities, immersing them into a story that will make some sort of impact in their lives. Good writing leaves a lasting impression, a faint sweet sensation that can bring a smile or a tear.

I can clearly state that I have never, nor will I ever, use the word jejune when writing a story. God help me if I do.

So here it is:

Jejune: Definition

1. lacking interest or liveliness; dull
2. naïve and simplistic

You got that, now—-Right?

Any great new words you’ve uncovered recently, one that you had to use a dictionary to find it’s meaning? How about, for the fun of it, you try using the word, jejune, in a sentence to wow and amuse us? Who knows, you may even be able to bring a smile or a tear? ;)

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27 Comments

  1. Miss Julie

     /  January 7, 2011

    How jejune we all were when we graduated from high school!

    Reply
    • Yes, we certainly were jejune, a jejuneness that has continued to plaque some of us well into our adult years! ;) That was fun. Maybe I will use it in my next novel. LOL!

      Reply
  2. syr ruus

     /  January 7, 2011

    ;-) :-) :-) :-) :-) Shall I go on?

    Reply
  3. I jejune to know any new words, she said jejunely.

    Reply
  4. My friend Tom included “jejune” in his post about words that shouldn’t be allowed to die:

    http://testazyk.com/2010/10/29/words-that-shouldnt-be-allowed-to-die/

    I knew what it meant, but I’ve never used it!

    Wendy

    Reply
  5. I can’t tell you how jejune I was when I first started writing. It’s too depressing.

    Reply
    • LOL! I’m sure many us of were jejune in the beginning although, hopefully, we have since learned how to inject some life into our prose. ;)

      Reply
  6. We all have moments of jejunacity, methinks. Hey! How’s that for a neologism? Actually, when I was at Acadia doing my degrees as a ‘mature student’ (how’s THAT for an oxymoron?), one of my English profs liked to use that word to describe some of the students’ writing abilities and essay arguments. She also liked to say ‘germane’ and I remember smiling to myself when a much younger, dewy-eyed student asked me why the prof was referring to Germans.

    Reply
    • I’m having trouble getting my tongue around jejunacity and spell check tells me it isn’t a word…lol! But you are right, Jodi, one way or another, we do all have those moments of jejunacity.. ;)

      Reply
  7. lol, what cute phrases everyone came up with – I’ve never heard this word until now. I was completely off in my guess of it’s meaning, linking it with jeune. I suppose that goes with definition #2.
    You know, I actually think good writing is done with simple words…usually the best word that describes is simple – and one we all know!! lol

    Reply
    • I agree with you, Jennifer, that good writing is best when we use words that are familiar to the reader. While there are some people who know the meaning of jejune (Like we all do now) would it be appropriate in our fiction. I really hope not!

      Reply
  8. I thought the same – that larger and/or rarely used words would make me a better writer. But over the past few years, I’ve rejected that idea. After all, I’m writing for people just like me. They wouldn’t know what jejune means either.

    While taking English Lit. at the Mount, I learned Jane Austen’s novels were written at a grade six reading level. I think some were written at a grade five level. That told me it’s not the length of the word, but – as Laura said – how the words are used.

    That said, I’m always on the look-out for neat words, ones that can be used in ways their meanings are obvious, ones that invoke a feeling or scene. I subscribe to a word-a-day, too, and last year, I found one of my favourite words: Spindrift: sea spray; especially spray blown from waves during a storm; fine wind-borne snow or sand.

    Reply
    • Diana, I think many people begin writing with the same notion that we did, that the use of big words is really impressive and more or less expected. I remember one person saying, her friend told her she didn’t have the vocabulary to be a writer. I soon refuted that idea for her. We should never use that as an excuse for NOT writing.

      I read some place that most magazine articles are written at a grade 8 level because that is the reading level of the general population.

      We’ve been having some fun with jejune on Facebook, and I agree it’s fun to expand our vocabulary. Some words that we find in writing we have to guess at its meaning and can hopefully figure out what it means by its use.

      Spindrift sounds like a totally delightful word. I’ve never heard of it before. Thanks for passing it along.

      Reply
  9. duke1959

     /  January 8, 2011

    As the saying goes you learn something new everyday!

    Reply
  10. I am very jejune while playing Scrabble, but now the jejuneness may be gone when I use jejune for my next win.

    Reply
  11. duke1959

     /  January 8, 2011

    This is true!

    Reply
  12. Madison Woods

     /  January 8, 2011

    I like what one of your commenters did with it: jejunacity. When I first saw the word, I thought it said lejune and it wasn’t until the very end when I started reading comments that I realized it was JEjune. I’ll bet that changed the meaning altogther, which would have been something if I had known what it meant either way before I started reading!

    Reply
    • Nice to know there are others out there who had never heard the word before. That is the great thing about increasing our word power. I now the meaning of jejune. Not sure that it will improve me writing but…

      Reply
  13. I thought it’s a word I wouldn’t use either, but now I’m thinking of having a snooty character use it. You’re right theres no point in using big words that have no meaning to people.

    The one thing that jejune has to recommend it — an important characteristic of a good word — is it sounds nice.

    Reply
    • I agree jejune does sound nice. I can imagine the looks on certain faces if I actually used it. The wonderful thing about writing is that I often use words that I wouldn’t necessarily use when speaking. In writing it would more than likely work!

      Reply
  14. my favourite word – I got it from Woody Allen films – if you google just the one word jejune google falls over ! – at least it does on my PC !

    Reply
  15. It is better to be lonely than wasting time in the company of jejune people.

    Reply

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