Windsor Horne Lockwood III: If His Name Is Not Pretentious Enough, Perhaps His Vocabulary Is

If you are a fan of Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series, you will recognize the name Windsor Horne Lockwood III, affectionately known as Win.

Here is how Win is described in the series, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Win’s hair is described as blond, perfect length, parted on the right side. His features are classical patrician, almost too handsome, like something crafted in porcelain. His attire is always thoroughbred prep—pink shirts, polo shirts, monogrammed shirts, khaki pants, golf pants, white bucks (Memorial Day to Labor Day), or wing tips (Labor Day to Memorial Day) on his feet. He is even said to have a strange accent, one that did not originate from any particular geographical location as much as from his prep school, Exeter. He is an excellent golfer, with a three handicap; he is a fifth-generation member of Merion Golf Club in Philadelphia; and a third-generation member at Pine Valley in southern New Jersey. He has a perennial golf tan, one of those where the color could be found only in the arms (short-sleeve shirts) and a V-shape in the neck (open alligator shirt). It is also said that Win’s skin never gets tanned—instead his skin burns. People are said to hate him on sight for his looks and money.

But beneath that preppy look is a bit of a crazed lethal weapon. Here is some additional info about Win:

Although described as having a slight frame, Win is a sixth-degree black belt holder in Tae Kwon Do, which is the highest ranking in the United States. Thus, enemies misjudge him at their own peril. He has been studying Tae Kwon Do since the age of five, and introduced Myron to Tae Kwon Do in college. Win brought an instructor, Master Kwan, from Korea fourteen years prior to the first novel to teach him Tae Kwon Do. Throughout the books it is made clear that along with being one of the world’s best hand-to-hand fighters Win is also proficient with a wide variety of weapons, at following people unseen, breaking and entering, interrogation and intimidation, marksmanship and well connected with intelligence agencies. Win and Myron worked for the FBI in an undisclosed manner prior to the start of the series.

So why I am talking about Win?

Well, one of Win’s favorite words to use is articulate. When he answers the phone he does not say hello, he simply says “articulate”.

As it turns out, Harlan Coben may have been onto something in having Win use the word articulate.

In a poll of more than 1,900 people, commissioned by Preply, 56 percent assume that someone with a complex vocabulary is very smart. Nearly four in five (78%) add that using big words makes someone seem even smarter than they might be.

Having a large vocabulary, according to Preply, will enable someone to communicate effectively with a wide array of individuals from various backgrounds and interests.

Here are some other takeaways from the study:

  • 58 percent of adults use words they don’t know the meaning of just to appear smarter
  • 43 percent of respondents assume that people who use overly complex language are just trying to sound smarter than they really are
  • 63 percent say they’ve used complex words to impress a potential partner
  • 46 percent say it’s a dating dealbreaker if someone unnecessarily uses too many big words.
  • 25 percent admit they’re less likely to trust someone using big words in a conversation.

The survey also created three lists of top 20 words.

The first list identifies which words make someone sound smarter. Here is the list:

The second list contained words that people use to sound smarter:

and finally, the last list was what words make a person sound pretentious:

As you can see, the word articulate is prominent on all three lists.

It seems like it was the perfect word to be associated with Win.

The use of the word made him sound smarter, it was a way to make for Win to think he was smarter, and it was a way to make Win appear pretentious. Who knew one word could convey such a variety of meanings?

If I wanted to show off my vocabulary skills, I could create a paragraph that contained all the words in the above three lists.

But why would I want to do that? It would probably come off as pretentious. Plus, it would probably take me half a day to come up with that one paragraph. And even then I’m not sure I could pull it off.

And besides, I don’t have the time for that; I’m too busy working on easy Sudokus

P.S. If you’ve never read the Myron Bolitar mystery series from Harlan Coben, I highly recommend it. The books are real page-turners, and there’s a good dose of humor sprinkled throughout…

*image from The Crime Warp

183 thoughts on “Windsor Horne Lockwood III: If His Name Is Not Pretentious Enough, Perhaps His Vocabulary Is

  1. Hmmm…so should I try to fit all the words from your first list into one of my stories?
    Maybe I should have Mason and Tippner use them so they can sound smart. And maybe Tink can use the word articulate at the North Pole and impress Santa. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Such portentous folderol, this rumination on semantics. I don’t buy it for a zeptosecond. Polysyllabic vocabularies are deployed to fortify the bafflegab required to forfend the possibility of anybody apprehending exactly what it is you’re attempting to communicate.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I remember Saturday afternoons growing up and watching bowling on ABC with Chris Schenkel followed by Wide World of Sports with Jim McKay. There has never been a better three hour stretch on TV…

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t see the knowledge or use of an extensive vocabulary as being intelligent or pretentious. I see it as simply being well read. But that comes from a guy who uses all the words on these lists all the time. I think I am just trying to convince myself I am less pretentious than I am.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. i’m endlessly fascinated by word play and word usage in most any form, so this post was really interesting to me, jim. i’d say any of the words, if used correctly, would not be pretentious, it’s more in the delivery. p.s. keep going on the easy level of the sudoku until you start to naturally understand the patterns and then you’ll roll right into the medium level in no time. (from your puzzle coach who has faith in you )

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree; if it’s the right word to use, you should use it.
      I did download a Sudoku app, and the easy ones there were mucheasier; in fact I moved up to the medium, and the two that I did there weren’t too bad either. Maybe it was just the book I bought 🙂 I’ll keep plugging away!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lots of big words there! I really should expand my vocabulary both written and oral. I am told that I speak like an Iowan. Not sure that’s a compliment but since I still live in Iowa I guess it works!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So looking at these lists, I see that I use a lot of ‘big’ words. I think this stems from my hobby as a writer and always trying to use a different word than I used in the last paragraph. My brain doesn’t work fast enough to assess if a word will make me sound smarter in the middle of a conversation, I just use which ever word is available. In truth, I often pause mid sentence searching for *any* word that might fit… which I assume makes me seem pretty stupid. In fact I just did this pause thing in a meeting for way too long. I think people were worried about me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know that feeling all too well It happens occasionally when I am teaching. It doesn’t help that there are 30 students staring at me while I try to come up with the word I want to use. Usually I’ll just come up with a generic word like “thing”…


  7. I’ve read all of the Myron Bolitar books and quite a few of Coben’s other novels. He is one of my favourite authors, and I find the way he articulates his stories worthy of adulation. So do Netflix, judging by the number of adaptations of his books you can find there. Win is a great character, now with a novel all of his own.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He is one of my favorite authors as well, and I think I’ve read everything he has written. He certainly has been busy on Netflix. I found some of those series better than others.

      by the way; dang you for telling me about that Microsoft Sudoku; I can’t stop playing it!


      1. I’ve still got a few to go. I bought one today as it was an Amazon special at 99p – I don’t normally pay much more than that for Kindle books!

        I thought you’d like that app – so much easier than pen and paper, I think…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I just checked my Kindle app. I have 28 of his books, all bought over the past 10 years or so for that price. I just keep an eye on their promotions.

        It is easier, isn’t it. But don’t blame me when your wife asks why you’ve stopped using the book she gave you 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I need to keep an eye out for bargains like that. I remember I bought many of his books at used book stores, and then I was able to sell them back, so that did not cost me too much either. I also borrowed a few from our local library.

        and my wife just old me that she had bought the Sudoku book at a dollar store, and so the quality may not be the highest 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. ok, I’ll see if I can pick it out when you write about it.

        I had a thought for music post – those times when the B side of a single ended up more popular than the A side. I don’t know if it’s ever happened, and even if it did, if the record company might have just reversed what they called the A vs B side…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It wouldn’t be difficult: it’s in the song title!

        That’s a good thought. I’ve found several like that while I’ve been doing mine, but slightly complicated by the different ways the US and UK recognise chart placings for singles. Could be a good one to try, though 👍

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Like Brad, I use all those words. I like “pretentious” writings better than the ones that contain only a couple of all purpose adjectives to describe everything. Language is beautiful!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Again, I have many thoughts! lol

    I don’t think I’ve read any of his books but some are actually on my TBR list and I haven’t gotten to so I am so glad you recommended this series of his bc now I can just go straight to those… admittedly, I do use a thesaurus when I write.. only because when I write, words will pop into my head that seem like they fit but I won’t actually 100% know the definition of them and I worry about using a word incorrectly and I like to find the perfect word to fit the sentence/context/emotion I am trying to convey so I find it most helpful! And I find I can usually tell apart those who are actually intelligent by their word choices vs. those who are purposely TRYING to sound smart.. does that make sense?! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like reading a series, especially if you like the main characters. you feel like you really know them after a ccouple of books. And I like that idea of using a thesaurus to help with finding just the right word. and I get exactly what you are saying. two people coulduse the same word, yet one could come off pretentious, the othe as intelligent…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Harlan Coben rarely disappoints.

    As far as using fancy words – I often struggle to communicate my ideas to certain people because I forget that they don’t know what is inside my hat and why I’ve arrived at x. You have to interact with me on a regular basis to better understand the way I think and why I say the things I say. So, since I already have trouble with that, I don’t like adding more to the confusion by using fancy words. Plus, I don’t really see the reason why you would use those on purpose. I use a word to learn it or because I need a synonym in my writing. Other than that, nah.

    Liked by 1 person

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