JS Tip 291: Spooky Words Five

Tips from Jefferson Smith Training and Consulting

** From the Writing Workshops: Spooky Words Five

The last of our series exploring spooky words—words that will haunt you if you use them incorrectly. (The spooky stuff disappears tomorrow.)

Principal and principle

You thought you knew this one. You memorized “The principal is my pal.” But there’s more to it.

Principal means primary. Main. Chief. We call the woman in charge of the school the principal because she’s the chief person at the school.

“The principal reason we took the workshop was to learn business writing.” Good. Correct. “The main reason . . . .”

“Live off the interest; never touch the principal.” Good. Correct. “Never touch the main part of your savings.”

A principle is a fundamental. A law. A rule. A guideline: “We accept the principle, ‘Live off the interest . . . .’” “We accept the rule . . . .”

Elicit and illicit

Elicit means to draw out. Find out. Bring out: “See if you can elicit any information from your contact.” “See if you can find out . . . .”

Illicit means bad. Wrong. Illegal. (Think of how bad behavior makes you ill.) “Do not ask your contact to betray any confidences. That would be illicit.” “That would be wrong.”

Let us know your thoughts. We love this stuff.

Next week, we’ll speak of other things. Shoes. Ships. Sealing wax. Cabbages and kings.

** Recent Tips

JS Tip 290: Spooky Words Four
JS Tip 289: Spooky Words Three
JS Tip 288: Spooky Words Two
JS Tip 287: Spooky Words: Words that will Haunt You
JS Tip 286: The Power of Words


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