Vocabulary Blurring

Is there a difference between “glistening” and “glittering?”

I’m not asking to find out the answer. I’m asking to see if any of you lot know the answer. I KNOW the answer.

How about smacking and slapping? Jogging and trotting?

How about any two damn words that are “similar” in meaning and in appearance?

Are they all interchangeable?

I’ll answer that HELL NO.

I went down to one of the last book stores today and picked up some stupid book about dragons. The flyleaf- the part that’s supposed to sell the book– contained this abomination:

“The jaws of the dragon opened revealing the glittering fangs…”

Fangs don’t glitter, assholes. They glisten.

But this wasn’t on some inside page, hidden from view. This was featured as an exciting excerpt that must have passed several sets of human eyes on its way to marketing glory. It’s not a mistake. Apparently, the people who design the flyleaf think that “glitter” and “glisten” are the same word.


I don’t expect my damn Uber driver to know this. I don’t expect that guy who takes my ticket at the soon-to-be-closed cinema to know this. But people who claim to know about language and who publish books– hell yeah I expect those people to KNOW THIS.

I’m coming up with a name for this phenomenon. This is not the first time I’ve encountered it. Oh no. I’ve seen this happening more and more and somebody HAS TO DO SOMETHING.

So I’m coining a phrase.

Let’s call this “vocabulary blurring.”

It means that you know some big words.


You know OF them.

Then you become a famous author and write some, you know, novels.

And you throw “big words” around, confusing their meanings and paying no penalty for this, because your readers, apparently, do this:

OOH! Big words! Whenever I see one, I just think “blah diddy blah blah” and press on. Who care what they are? They’re big. Some pompous bastard just put it in there to sound smart.

Note: Please replace pompous with “blah diddy blah blah.”

When people with Master of Fine Arts degrees do not know this, I want to know what is happening. What is happening that is causing this vocabulary blurring and how can it be fixed?

I await your reply, universe.

Or readers…

2 Replies to “Vocabulary Blurring”

  1. Maybe the dragon moonlights as a gangster rapper? Gotta show off dem diamonds somewhere, and a big ol’ chain around his neck might get caught on an obstacle as he flies around doing whatever it is dragons do.

    1. Damn skippy.

      The problem with using “glitter” instead of “glisten” is that some dumb old fart like me will take it seriously and think the author MEANT “glitter” and imagine a whole mouthful of crystalline teeth… but no.

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