I was in a shop that sold art prints one afternoon when I asked the owner if a certain work was a lithograph.
"No," he laughed. Actually it was more of a derisive guffaw. "That's just a cheap poster!"
I was embarrassed, not just because this gentleman seemed to think that every other person on the face of the earth would have known the difference between a poster and a lithograph, but because my kids were standing there next to me, and I didn't want them to think their dad was stupid.
The truth is, I wasn't stupid. I wasn't the smartest person on earth, but I had an Ivy League law degree, and a bachelor's in European studies, which had included a lot of art history. I really should have known what a lithograph was, and how to recognize one--yet I didn't. Something had fallen through the cracks.
It was that day that I realized that despite my fairly good education, and despite the fact that as a broadcast and print journalist, words had been my raw material for the past decade, there were hundreds...probably thousands...of important words I didn't know.
I decided to call these words snob words.
Snob words are uppity, patrician terms and phrases that you and I—as cultured and educated people—realize we should know, but all too often, don’t.
I'm talking about words like soigné, carte blanche, Wunderkind, bête noire, sotto voce, treillage, Venetian plaster, triptych, rara avis, literati, couturier, beau monde, and shagreen, to name just a few. There are hundreds!
And they’re out to get us: to jeopardize our jobs, sabotage our social lives, destroy our dignity.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Snobwords.com is here to help fight this verbal villainy. If you'll spend at least five minutes a day on this site--going over the Words of the Week, browsing through the archived snob words, reading the blog posts--we'll get your lexical snob on.
Think of us as Rosetta Stone for your own language. Duolingo for your own lingo.
We also recommend our fascinating and highly effective month-long vocabulary course--Snob Words: 30 Days to a More Sophisticated Vocabulary--which is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon.
This website and our print course are the fastest and most enjoyable ways to enhance your snobcabulary on this planet.
The Word Snob