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  • Smart Brevity™ count: 256 words ... 1 min.

1 big thing: New words for your repertoire

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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Jim’s daughter, Sophie, a college student, dropped a new word on us — "apricity," the sun's warmth in winter. That inspired a bigger conversation about cool, rare words we should make mainstream. 

The big picture: A linguist tells the BBC that 75% of our daily speech comes from as few as 800 words.

  • We all fall into language patterns and ruts. So we asked Axios' staff to give us their favorite underused words to lengthen our lists.

Here are some fun ones worth elevating — and their Merriam-Webster definitions:

  • protean: "displaying great diversity or variety," like an actor who can do both comedy and tragedy.
  • doyen: a person considered to be uniquely skilled and experienced in a certain field.
  • petrichor: the pleasant smell of the earth after a rainstorm following a long dry period.
  • spindrift: sea spray.
  • susurrus: "a whispering or rustling sound." (It sounds like what it means!)
  • avuncular: "suggestive of an uncle especially in kindliness or geniality."
  • frabjous: wonderful, extraordinary, joyous. (Fun fact: Axios chief financial correspondent Felix Salmon once used frabjous in a story.)

The bottom line: We can always expand our vocabularies to communicate our ideas with more precision — or just find new words that make us smile.

💬 What are your favorite words?

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Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

What are the coolest words you wish were used more?

  • Send your candidates to [email protected]. We'll publish the most dazzling ones in a future edition.

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