What A Wonderful Word Wednesday: Appellation

What’s in an appellation? That which we call a rose
By any other appellation would smell as sweet!

I can see why Shakespeare steered clear of this word. “Appellation” just doesn’t pack the same punch as “name” in that famous literary line! But I do wonder why this week’s wonderful word, appellation, isn’t used more often. Appellation is a noun meaning a name or title. Does the hesitation lie in the possibility of confusing it with the Appalachian Mountains? That wasn’t much of an issue for Rocky or Smoky… 😉

In reality, I’m not entirely sure how to use this word. Merriam Webster says this is a formal word for a name or title, but it also lists the definition as a nickname. Would it be safe go up to an important business man and ask: “What is your appellation in this company?” Or does that have a strange undertone? Or could someone helping you fill out a form say: “I need your appellation on the first line and date of birth on the second.”? Yes, they sound strange, but are these usages correct? Maybe I’m making this more complicated than it ought to be!

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Putting that Wonderful Word to Work!

I wrote a short story last week and used the word appellation in it. Now I’m wondering if I used the word correctly… Here’s an excerpt:

“Wait right here!” Maria exclaimed. “I’ll be back in just a second. Espera um momento.”

She kept her word, returning a few minutes later with the promised item tucked securely under her arm: A golden feathered hen, very much alive, feet tied together with string. Mom was stunned. If she’d realized the bird was still breathing, she later recounted, she never would have accepted. But it was. And the traumatized bundle of feathers was being pushed into her hands. And her Portuguese was not yet at a point where she could explain her way out. So she graciously accepted the generous gift, and moments later, she joined us in the Volkswagen, new owner of a lovely little chicken.

I can only assumed that Maria thought the gift would be dinner. But, growing up as city dwellers, my parents had never slaughtered a chicken and had very little desire to learn! On the drive home from church we named her, and with the addition of an appellation, all odds of the old girl ending up in the stew pot disappeared…

To read the story in full, just follow this link.

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