JS Tip 288: Spooky Words Two

Tips from Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting

** From the Writing Workshops: Spooky Words Two

Last week, we began exploring spooky words—words that will haunt you if you use them incorrectly.

Compliment and complement

A compliment is praise: “You did a good job.” Think of the I in compliment as “I want to pay you a compliment.”

A complement is something that completes. Fills out. Makes whole. (The two words share the same first six letters.) You have a full complement if your staff is complete. (Last week, you were two people short. You hired Sarah and Leah as the complement.)

Criteria and criterion

Forget these. They’re Latin gobbledygook. Use reason or factor.

“One criterion made the difference.” Baloney. Try “One reason made the difference.” Clearer. Simpler. Fewer syllables.

(Just for the record, just in case you’re asked on a test: criterion is singular, criteria is plural. Think of criterion as the beginning of criteri-one.)

Discreet and discrete

Discreet means careful or quiet: “Let’s be discreet about this.”

Discrete means separate: “The company has three discrete divisions.” But ask yourself, “Do I need the extra word?” Doesn’t “The company has three divisions” mean the same thing?

Concrete is what driveways are made of. We threw that in for laughs.

Let us know your thoughts. We love this stuff.

More words next week.

** Recent Tips

JS Tip 287: Spooky Words: Words that will Haunt You
JS Tip 286: The Power of Words
JS Tip 285: Motivating Others II
JS Tip 284: Remembering
JS Tip 283: Motivating Others


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