Part of speech:
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “a laconic statement.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "The statement was laconic.”)
Something or someone laconic uses very few words--so few that you might think that person or thing is rude or mysterious.
You might recall our featured word from March, "taciturn," a close synonym of "laconic." What's the difference? The taciturn person is very quiet and doesn't want to get involved in the conversation. If she says anything at all, then it's only a few words. But the laconic person is definitely getting a point across--he's just using very few words to do it. Note, also, that "laconic" describes both people and things, while "taciturn" only describes people, not things. (Example: you can say "a laconic reply," but you can't say "a taciturn reply.")
How to use it:
Talk about a laconic reply, a laconic statement, a laconic description, a laconic product review, etc. You can have a laconic person, a laconic reputation, a laconic manner, and so on.
The point is that when you describe people or things as laconic, you don't mean they're just quiet by nature; you mean they say a lot in just a few words, and those few words can come off as either rude or mysterious. It's worth mentioning that "laconic" derives from the word for a person who lived near Sparta in ancient Greece. Legend has it that an aggressor once told these laconic residents, "If I enter Laconia, I will raze Sparta to the ground." And their only reply was, "If."
Is it a coincidence or just our preference for brevity that makes the most laconic speeches, like the Gettysburg Address, the most memorable?
When I was worried about my ability to handle parenthood, my laconic friend Erin assured me by saying, "You won't go catatonic."
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "laconic” means when you can explain it without saying “concise" or “abruptly brief."
Think of a time you delivered or witnessed the perfect snappy comeback, and fill in the blanks: "(Person) responded to (insult) with a laconic '_____.'"
Example: "The barista responded to her customer's demand of 'I JUST WANT A SMALL COFFEE, NOW!' with a laconic, 'You mean a coffee, please?'"
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our game for May is: “What Do These Words Have in Common?”
The three words given will have something specific in common. (More than one right answer might be possible, but I've only got one particular answer in mind for each set of words.) I've arranged the questions from easiest to hardest, so today’s should be moderately difficult. By the end of the month, expect some whoppers.
What do these words have in common?: atlas, Braille, guppy
Answer: All are eponyms: words created from people's names.
Try this one today: cosmonaut, mammoth, intelligentsia
A Point Well Made:
Abigail Van Buren: “Sometimes the most important conversations are the most difficult to engage in.”
1. The opposite of LACONIC is
2. Tim's laconic manner often leaves people wondering _____.
A. if he even truly meant what he said
B. if he plans his witty replies or just thinks of them on the spot
C. why he won't just tell a white lie to avoid hurting people's feelings
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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