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  • Allie

Trick Words

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

Yesterday I began reading Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino. The first essay entitled “The I in Internet” is full of strong writing… and words that I had to look up in the dictionary.

It’s become a habit to look out for new words as I read. In the past I’ve been lax; I figure out what the word means given its context and move on. However, the limited understanding I garner from that instance keeps me from being able to use the word myself in other contexts.

Thus, I’ve changed my ways. I now flag words I want to add to my lexicon with a post-it and take the time to look them up one by one.

From today onward, every Wednesday I plan to share a word (or few) that I encountered in my reading and felt inspired to look up. First, I’ll provide the word and the phrase or sentence in which I read it. Second, I’ll list the definition. (In today’s post, definitions come from the Oxford English Dictionary.) Lastly, I’ll take a stab at using the word myself in a sentence.

In the above essay by Tolentino I identified three words:


“She was then pilloried by people who chose to demonstrate their own moral superiority through mockery” (9).

Def: verb, to attack or ridicule publicly

Teens feel pressure to fit in, or else face being pilloried by their peers.


“... a similar fiasco made national news in Pizzagate, after a few rabid internet denizens decided they’d found coded messages about …” (10).

Def: noun, an inhabitant or occupant of a particular place

When I studied music in college, I was practically a denizen of the music building, given I spent more time there than in my own apartment.


“But even in this narrative, the importance of action was subtly elided” (19).

Def: transitive verb. To pass over in silence; to suppress, strike out, or omit from an account

Feedback that elides either praise or criticism is incomplete; both are necessary.

What words have you been adding to your lexicon? In what ways does reading challenge you to grow? Share in the comments, and happy reading!




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