Sunday, March 4, 2007

Copious; sedulous; venal

This is another of my private archival emails with only quick usages.


I've always loved this word--copious. It has such studious connotations. In fact, it was my copious note-taking skills that got me a job in law school transcribing my notes for the academically challenged, although I'm sure my sedulous study habits also contributed. Sedulous. It sounds like too many other words that are the antithesis of it: sedicious, salacious, credulous (and it's corollary, incredulous). But when my husband is next searching for a word to describe a woman in science who has been successful, and rather than tagging her as being aggressive, which has such negative overtones when applied to women, I'm going to suggest that she was sedulous. As for venal and as DD notes in the etymology, it sounds too much like venial, which relates the seven venial (invoking temporal punishment) as opposed to mortal (deadly) sins. Not being Catholic or really having any grounding in that lore, I stay away from the obvious confusion, although among erudite lawyers, you can use these words and no one will mistake you. But basically, that's because most lawyers are venal in the first sense of the word--even a plaintiff's attorney knows the price of his billable hour--and still others are venal in the second sense of the word. Plaintiff's attorneys can try to justify their actions, but they are still venal in the face of client's demands [take your pick of definitions... ;-) ].

1 comment:

JWu said...

Randall's usage of "sedulous" is great... always the diplomat (balancing Lauren's mordant wit perhaps???)