My “S” words

I have a short list of words in a file on my computer, all starting with “S” and all tending to a similar meaning. But, despite the fact that they make up a sort of family group and some are considered synonyms, each has a slightly different connotation. Probably partly because of this (and partly because my brain has started playing that wonderful trick of keeping mental objects of desire just beyond reach), I can quickly and reliably call to mind only numbers one and three.

Here they are:

Seamy—Sordid; base, corrupt, unwholesome, morally degraded.

Seedy—Worn and shabby; unkempt, Somewhat disreputable; squalid, Showing signs of
wear and tear or neglect: scrubby, scruffy, shabby, shoddy, sleazy.

Sleazy—Shabby, dirty, and vulgar; tawdry. Cheap, dishonest or corrupt; disreputable.

Sordid—Filthy or dirty; foul. Depressingly squalid; wretched. Morally degraded. Exceedingly mercenary; grasping.

Squalid—Wretched, as from poverty or lack of care. Morally repulsive; sordid.

These are pretty good definitions, I think, pulled some time ago from one on-line dictionary or another. I love the fine distinctions. Seedy is merely “somewhat disreputable,” for example, while Sleazy admits of no adjective. I’m also fond of Sordid’s “depressingly squalid,” and its “morally repulsive” as opposed to Seamy’s somewhat kinder “morally degraded.” Of course, all variations have been on my mind lately as I watch what is hilariously called the “Grand Old Party” choose its candidate.

Along those lines, I can’t resist noting that the current pace-setter, often touted by silly people as an intellectual, doesn’t know the difference between “grand” (“magnificent”) and “grandiose” (“characterized by feigned or affected grandeur”). Maybe he just needs a list



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