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 nebulous future.”
2. After a linking verb, as in "The future is nebulous.”)
One meaning of "nebula" is a cloudy mass of gas and dust in space:
Image by NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.
Something nebulous, then, is cloudy and hazy, vague and unclear.
Other forms: nebulously, nebulousness/nebulosity
How to use it:
Talk about a nebulous concept or thought or feeling or goal, a nebulous role or expectation or arrangement, a nebulous timeline or process or plan, a nebulous statement, a nebulous standard or rule, and so on.
"Life coach" seems a nebulous job title to those of us unfamiliar with it, and "Help others achieve their goals" is a hopelessly nebulous job description.
Conclusions drawn from educational research are often nebulous; there are just too many influencing factors in a classroom to know for sure whether an intervention should be credited fully with outcomes.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "nebulous" means when you can explain it without saying “fuzzy" or “indistinct."
Think of a time when something unclear frustrated you, and fill in the blanks: "The problem with (this/these) nebulous _____ is that _____."
Example: "The problem with these nebulous directions is that I don't know whether I should be spending twenty minutes or two weeks on the project to get a good grade."
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 July is called A Verbal Tour of the US. I’ll ask you a trivia question each day this month about the names of US cities, states, geographic features, etc. Try it out each day, and see the right answer the next day. Happy verbal trails to you!
This Tennessee city recently changed its name to the title of a popular country and bluegrass song. Before that, it was called Lake City. What is it called now?
Answer: Rocky Top. (“Wish that I was on old Rocky Top, out in the Tennessee hills. Ain’t no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top. Ain’t no telephone bills…”)
Try this one today:
The river that runs through the southwest and into Mexico is properly called “The Rio Grande,” and not “The Rio Grande River.” Why?
A Point Well Made:
Stanley Kubrick: "However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."
1. The opposite of NEBULOUS is
2. It's a good idea to _____ any nebulous statements in a contract before signing.
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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