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Q: Searching for a word to describe... ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: Searching for a word to describe...
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: chrisgreen7-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 18 Jul 2006 13:29 PDT
Expires: 17 Aug 2006 13:29 PDT
Question ID: 747465
I am looking for a word to describe something that **sounds** as
though it has a lot of meaning (Any may be used excessively), but
actually has little or no meaning at all.

   ? This sounds confusing, here are some examples:

   The excessive and unregulated use of the word "Organic" to make
things SOUND more healthily than things that are not labelled

   A politician makes his campaign slogan "Standing for Justice and
Democracy" - a slogan that doesn't really say anything, but sounds

	Basically I?m looking for a word to describe fancy language that
sounds impressive when you first hear it, but upon closer inspection
carries to meaning.


Clarification of Question by chrisgreen7-ga on 18 Jul 2006 13:30 PDT
Subject: Re: Searching for a word to describe...
Answered By: eiffel-ga on 18 Jul 2006 15:26 PDT
Hi chrisgreen7-ga,

I have a few words for you here.

The word "pretentious" would be appropriately used here, for example:

   "The vendor pretentiously described the produce as organic"
   "The pretentious politican promised justice and democracy"

In advertising, the technique of using speech that sounds grand but is
devoid of substantial meaning is known as "puffery".

Closely related to these are "hype" and "hyperbole":

   "There was no substance behind the hype".
   "His talk did not go beyond hyperbole".

Here are the definition pages for these words at





I trust you find these words useful. If not, please request
clarification and I will search further.

Subject: Re: Searching for a word to describe...
From: pinkfreud-ga on 18 Jul 2006 13:46 PDT
Words or phrases which seem to have meaning, yet really are
meaningless or ambiguous in meaning are sometimes called "buzzwords."

"Buzz words are words that seem to say something, but what? They are
extremely popular in advertising. For example, a major word is 'crisp'
when applied to soft drinks or wine. What does this word mean? That
the drink crackles like broken glass when you drink it? You chew it
like potato chips?

'Natural' is a big buzz word, particularly applied to food and drink.
However, what exactly is 'natural'? Definitions of the word include
'produced by nature,' 'not artificial,' or 'not cultivated or
civilized.' Thus what does the word mean when applied to, say, beer?
If a beer is natural, is it produced by nature? Unlikely; it is
produced in breweries and does not exist in nature. Is natural beer
not artificial? Artificial means 'made by humans.' Since humans make
the beer in breweries, then beer is definitely artificial. Is natural
beer not cultivated or civilized? The behavior of beer drinkers is
occasionally not cultivated or civilized, but beer is one of the first
achievements of civilization. Then what exactly does it mean for beer
to be natural: that it's not made of polyester? That someone's
discovered a beer tree in a rain forest? In effect, the word natural
applied to any product that doesn't exist in a finished state in
nature is a buzz word.

Of course, there are products that exist in nature and can be called
natural. What does it mean in those cases? For example, what is the
difference between natural and refined honey? Basically, the
difference is dirt. Refining honey does not change the honey, just
removes extra non-honey items like dirt, bees' wax, and perhaps bees.

How about 'organic'? Organic seems to mean that a product is produced
naturally (see above). However, organic means 'carbon-based', as in
the difference between organic and inorganic chemistry. Thus, just
about anything not made of rocks is organic; if you can digest it,
it's organic. To many people, organic foods are more healthful because
they are produced without the use of chemical fertilizers or other
'unnatural' means. However, chemical fertilizers are organic, are
produced organically, and thus are just as organic as organic
fertilizers, like bird guano. They just have a bad reputation that
comes more from the reputations of the companies that make it than the
reputation of the fertilizer itself.

Thus, we can see that buzz words have little or no meaning in and of
themselves. What meaning they do have is based on the connotations
people give them (which often come from the way the people using them
give them) rather then their actual denotative meanings."
Subject: Re: Searching for a word to describe...
From: tutuzdad-ga on 18 Jul 2006 14:15 PDT
I think the word you are looking for is "pretentious". A pretentious
word is intended to attract notice and impress others but doesn't
necessarily have to bear significant (or any) meaning.

Let me know if this is what you are looking for.

Subject: Re: Searching for a word to describe...
From: cynthia-ga on 18 Jul 2006 16:14 PDT
I think the definition sounds suspiciously like pompous:
Subject: Re: Searching for a word to describe...
From: bowler-ga on 19 Jul 2006 08:39 PDT
The word I would choose is Bulls**t.  

(You may insert the letters "i and t" into the above word!)

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