Essay on “Call things by their right names” for School, College Students, Long and Short English Essay, Speech for Class 8, 9, 10, 12 and Competitive Exams.

Call things by their right names

In firing practice, it is not enough to get an “outer” or even an “inner”. If one wants to become a marksman, one must try to hit the mark every time and get a “bull’s eye”. So with the choice of words. Choice implies thought and care—something deliberate. A careful writer will choose his words; and he will not be satisfied until he finds the one word which will clearly express his thought. He will learn to “call things by their right names”. This means precision in the use of words. Precision involves two things: knowing the precise meaning of the words we use, and using those words that most correctly express our thoughts.

Some people are very careless in their use of words in talking and even in writing. They do not bother to choose their words. They are content with the first words that come into their heads. “Near enough is good enough” is their motto. They do not learn to “call things by their right names”, nor to “call a spade a spade”. The result is a lot of slovenly talk and bad writing.

One characteristic of such slovenly ways of talking and writing is the use of vague, trivial words without any defined meaning. A good example is nice. “Nice” has its own meaning—subtle, as in “a nice distinction”; but in common speech it has come to mean almost anything vaguely agree-able. People talk of a nice dinner, a nice book, a nice journey, a nice town, a nice hat, a nice sermon, a nice man, and so on. Everything is nice, and nothing is definite. Another vague word is fine, and we speak indifferently of fine weather, a fine man, fine clothes, a fine view, a fine dog, etc. Always try to find precise epithets in place of these vague, woolly words. If you are tempted to call a man “nice”, ask yourself what exactly you mean. Do you mean genial and affable, or kindhearted, or polite, or virtuous, or goodlooing? Whichever you mean, choose the exact word for it, and do not cloud and blur it with the indefinite “nice”.

Another characteristic is the constant use of exaggeration. We use big words for trivial things. To miss a dance is a “frightful disappointment”; a slight headache is “simply awful”; and we are “terribly sorry” to keep a friend waiting five minutes. And how a thing can be “awfully nice”, or “frightfully sweet”, or a person “terribly kind”, it is hard to say. The worst of this fault is that it empties big words of all meaning, and makes them ineffective when used rightly, as in “a frightful massacre”, “a terrible disaster”, “awful ruin”

So, learn to “call things by their right names.”

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