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