JS Tip 468b: Still Continuing the Discussion

Again, thank you for being in Tuesday's workshop. I promised to send you the tips. Bingo. Here's your first one. 


From the Writing Workshops: Still Continuing the Discussion

The discussion continues, and it’s wonderful.

Two weeks ago, Darrell Harmon shared his concerns about new words that show more style than meaning. He mentioned incentivize and mentee.

Last week, Dave Bjarnason explained that incentivize has a particular—and definite—meaning in business: “to encourage a behavior by providing incentives.” And is thus useful.  

This week, Paul Driggs of Mountainland Technical College suggested a shorter version of incentivize; he suggested incent. 

We’d not heard of incent before, so we opened a dictionary.



It’s there. Four entries before its cousin incentivize. The entry includes an example: “[The plan] would use tax breaks to incent corporations to invest in their future.” 



So let’s try to capture the lessons from the last two weeks:

  1. Use words for their meaning and not for their style. Use words to express, not to impress.


  2. All things being equal, shorter words are better than longer words. All things being equal.


  3. Weigh the speed-bump factor. If your word might slow your reader down (“What the heck is this?”), find a better word.


We’re grateful for the comments. This has been a learning experience. Thank you.

We love this stuff. We really do.

Next week’s tip will come two days before April Fool’s Day. We’ll have some fun.

Mark Brooks