A compendium of 100 words and phrases smart people use–even if they only kinda sorta (secretly don’t) know what they mean–with pithy definitions and fascinating etymologies to solidify their meanings.
Your boss makes a joke about Schrodinger’s cat–which is something you’ve heard of but you’re a little vague about what exactly happened (or didn’t happen) with that cat. Or you’re reading a New Yorker article that explains that “Solecism slipped into solipsism into full-blown narcissistic project.” An excellent point . . . if you’re sure what “solecism” means . . . or, for that matter, “solipsism.”
Language gurus Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras to the rescue! In the breezy and entertaining yet informative style of their New York Times bestseller You’re Saying It Wrong, they give you a brief rundown on words smart people should know–from the worlds of science and the arts to philosophy, and from broader topics like quantum physics and ontology to more specific ones like Plato’s cave and trompe l’oeil. They cover the Latin phrases we hear and read (prima facie, sui generis, and the like) as well as those that have entered our vocabularies from other languages (bildungsroman, sturm und drang).
These are the words that, if you were asked directly, “What does this mean?” you might hem and haw and try to change the subject. After reading this book, you won’t have to.