Select Big Words and Concepts

Keeping with the title of this Blog Site, this page is dedicated to “Big Words” which I’ve chosen to highlight, and what their significance is – words that may not be obvious to the everyday person, but which are important and can open doors to new realms of knowledge, thinking and understanding.  Most of these words have been the basis for my posts and will be related back those specific posts.  The majority of these definitions have come straight out of Webster’s or Merriam’s dictionaries, or from websites like Investopedia.

Articulate: Divided into syllables or words meaning-fully arranged; able to speak; expressing oneself readily, clearly, or effectively; to utter distinctly; to give clear and effective utterance.

This Big Word is the basis for my blog post The benefits and challenges of using articulate speech.  Being articulate is a particularly important attribute when working in a STEM career where one must have a command of a highly complex and technical vocabulary, and be able to communicate their expertise and findings to all audiences.

Cheap: Purchasable below the going price or the real value; charging or obtainable at a low price; depreciated in value; gained with little effort; of inferior quality or worth; contemptible because of lack of any fine, lofty or redeeming qualities; stingy; yielding small satisfaction; paying or able to pay less than the going prices.

This Big Word was one of two words that were the basis of my post The difference between being cheap and frugal.  As you can see, cheap has many different definitions and connotations.   It’s often used as an adjective assigned to people perceived as being stingy and miserly, and their spending habits/behaviors in an unflattering way.

The Four Cs for Engagement Rings: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat Size.

In my 2017 Mother’s Day post, I talked about my failed first marital engagement.  For the men who have never done this, buying an engagement ring is a big deal especially for the women.  There are four areas you must consider: Cut, Clarity, Color and Carat Size.  Opinions vary regarding how much should be spent on a ring.  My mother’s advice was that it should be a month’s salary but ultimately you have to decide for yourself based upon yourself and your situation.  Think everything out though and as I described in my story, ask the hard questions up front as you don’t want to spend yourself into the poor house.  You won’t stay together very long.

Frugal: Characterized by or reflecting economy in the expidenture of resources; sparing.

This Big Word was also one of two words that were the basis of my post The difference between being cheap and frugal.  In Webster’s dictionary, frugal has fewer potential meanings that cheap but in general deals being wise with one’s resources.  It can be confused with, and interpreted as being cheap for those who don’t know the difference.  Which one are you?

Net Worth: According to Investopedia, ones ‘Net Worth’ is the amount by which assets exceed liabilities.

One’s ‘Net Worth’ is actually a simple concept on paper.  Many of us weren’t taught it at all growing up and only stumbled upon it by chance as was my case.  It’s the true measure of one’s wealth, not one’s yearly salary, a very, very important distinction.  Someone can actually have a high gross salary and low net worth, and the opposite is true.  Growing your net worth takes both planning and prioritization.  It also takes a good deal of perseverance and ‘true grit’ as not everyone will understand the sacrifices made for the long-term benefit.  The concept of one’s net worth and its implications for Black America was the basis for one of my blog posts.  I was encouraged by a mentor to address the concept yearly as it’s so important and reaches into many different areas of this world we live in.  The concept also has significance on the investing side as it can tell you how well a company whose stock you’re thinking about buying is doing for example.

Planetary Conjunction: The most applicable definition of a conjunction in Webster is; the occurrence together in time and space.  According to Go Astronomy, Planetary Conjunctions occur when two or more planets appear very close together to trace a line or triangle.  In my blog post An Astronomer Looks for the Christmas Star, a Planetary Conjunction was proposed as one of the scientific explanations for the star described in the birth and finding of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.

Reverse Mortgage: According to Investopedia, a Reverse Mortgage is a type of mortgage in which a homeowner can borrow money against the value of his or her home, receiving funds in the form a fixed monthly payment or a line of credit.  No repayment of the mortgage is required until the borrower dies, moves away or permanently sells the home.  The transaction is structured so that the loan will not exceed the value of the home over the life of the loan.

Reverse Mortgages came up in my interview with Simone Griffin of HomeFree-USA.  Their significance is that they usually involve an individual using up the equity in their home they’ve spent years accumulating to help pay their expenses in their twilight years – mostly because they haven’t saved enough for their retirement or because something has happened to overwhelm their finances.  The other issue is that the home may be permanently lost from the family once the owner dies costing the surviving relatives a financial asset.  They underscore the importance of long-term thinking regarding retirement and other savings.

Stereotype: To make a stereotype from; to repeat without variation: make hackneyed; to develop a mental stereotype about; a plate cast from a printing surface; something conforming to a fixed or general pattern; a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, affective attitude, or uncritical judgement.

This Big Word was the basis for my post Challenging stereotypes and misconceptions of academic achievement.  Stereotypes are dangerous in that they can fix absolute pictures of various cultures, ethnic groups and races in our minds.  As one of my heroes Dr. Robert Glover says, “If we believe it to be true, we’re going to act as if it’s true.”  In my blog post, in my youth I had ideas about my Asian peers having innate academic abilities versus other groups which my father helped dispel.  Spike Lee’s classic film Do The Right Thing was all about racism and stereotypes, and even featured a clever snippet where the different ethnic groups blatantly racially slander one another.  In the early 1990s, there was the film White Men Can’t Jump, starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson.  It was funny and catchy title, and there was some truth in the title in that there were stereotypes at the time about the athletic abilities of other ethnic groups, and what they could and could not do.  Over the years since then, we’ve found that these stereotypes aren’t necessarily true, and there are always exceptions.  They can however shape our perception of the world and those we encounter.

Toxicology: The biological science characterizing the study of poisons (toxicants) on living organisms.

Toxicology is an exciting and versatile field, and is the sister science to Pharmacology.  Traditional toxicology involves testing in animal and cellular systems.  The field is now moving towards more predictive in vitro and in silico approaches which will use fewer animals – Toxicology for the 21st Century also known as “Tox 21”.  Toxicologists are in constant high demand, and there aren’t enough of them.  They work in academia, the private and the public sectors.  In my blog post, The Toxicology Mentoring and Skills Development Training program hosts inaugural weekend, Iowa State University helped start a program to expose under-represented minorities to the field.