Saturday, September 22, 2012

Just Some Words

Hey y'all.  I was thinking about words, and sometimes I say to myself that there are no exact synonyms.  Sure, words can be similar, but if there wasn't at least a slight difference in meaning between two similar words, then only one word would exist.  Except perhaps where stealing from other languages comes in.  Like snowstorm and blizzard.  These are technically describing the same thing, but they feel different.  There's a different connotation.  "Blizzard" seems, at least to me, to apply only to very serious storms.  A snowstorm has to be really strong to be a blizzard.

Of course, that's all just theory.  Maybe there are two words that mean exactly the same thing, without crossing languages.  It's just something to muse on.  I like musing.  Anyway, I bring all that up because I was thinking of words that are similar but aren't really the same: words that describe people being smart.  There seems to be subtle definitions to each of them that makes them a little different.  Some of these are official, and some are just my guesses from context.  Why am I ranting about this?  Because I can.  Why not?

Two definitions that are official are the meanings of "idiot" and "moron".  Idiot technically means someone who is as smart as or is less smart than a three year old or has an IQ of 25 or less.  A moron is someone whose mental age is around 7 to 12, or has an IQ around 50-69.  There must be some word that goes in between, but I don't remember what it is.  Nobody uses the words in that sense anymore anyway.

These other ones I'm just going to say come from context.  I could technically be wrong about how I narrow them.  In any case, I know you have different meanings for these words too.  You don't consider them to be the same thing, I bet.

Knowledge is the first word.  Knowledge is pure information.  It's trivia, observations, and facts.  It helps to think of knowledge as several different items, and someone's intelligence is their collection of knowledge.  In other words, intelligence is like a library, and knowledge is the stuff on the shelves.

Smarts, cleverness, and wisdom are all pretty similar too.  All of them have one thing in common, and it's that they are a step above intelligence; intelligence is information, whereas these three words pertain to using information to do something.  They're a little different, though.

Being smart is specific.  Like, you can be smart at, say....nuclear physics.  Maybe you know a crap ton about it, and you run a nuclear power facility.  You know with confidence that you could have prevented such disasters as Chernobyl.  However, you're really dumb with animals (remember, this is only an example).  Your neighbor just gave you a rottweiler, and you're scared as crap at the thing.  You don't know that being calm is the smartest thing to do around dogs, and you don't know that you have to exert your superiority to them for them to behave.  So smart is specific.  It means you know how to handle something specific and make it function.

Cleverness, at least to me, implies sneakiness or even manipulation.  To me it goes along with being socially aware and being able to make people feel or believe something they wouldn't ordinarily.  This is the sort of intelligence that deals with people, not items.  In my head anyway.

Wisdom is a bit more grand in anybody's head, and to me it's wholistic.  Where "smart" is specific, wisdom is overwhelming.  Smart knows how to do stuff, but wisdom knows if it should be done or not.  Wisdom takes other people into account when starting a project, and it considers both people and items.  Wisdom cares about other people and isn't into taking advantage of it.

Maybe this is just me, but I like figuring out words.  Sorry if this was terribly boring, but eh, rant accomplished.  Come on, don't you like to nitpick on words too?

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