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Chapter 23. Diction: Find the Right Word... > Ten Distinctions Worth Making (or at... - Pg. 234

Diction: Find the Right Word, Not Its First Cousin 234 4. Assure is a verb meaning "to reassure" or "to convince." It's generally followed by a direct object that names a person. For example: The doctor assured her patient that the rash looked worse than it was. Ensure and insure both mean "to make sure, certain, or safe." Insure is generally used to refer to a financial certainty. Check out this example: Luis hoped his college degree would ensure him a job, preferably one that would insure him in case of illness. Authentic and genuine Something that's genuine is the real thing; something that's authentic tells the truth about its subject. So if you spent Monday morning thrilling your co-workers with the details of your weekend scuba diving in Barbuda when you'd really stayed home and watched reruns yet again, your account would be genuine but not authentic. Now, if you were eavesdropping on the subway and overheard the story about scuba diving in Barbuda and repeated the story word for word to your co-workers, that account would be authentic (assuming the person in the subway was telling the truth) but not genuine, because you'd be passing off someone else's good time as your own. 5. Compleat and complete This one's a snap; compleat is archaic. It's as classy as hot pants and hula hoops. If the world were a fair place, you'd never have to deal with this word again. Unfortunately, the world is not a just place. For the past few centuries, editors, publishers, and writers have used compleat to tart up book titles and boost sales. The first to cotton to this trick was Izaak Walton, back in 1653 with his The Compleat Angler, a rumination on fishing and morality. Now we have such noble imitators as The Compleat Stripper , The Compleat Wyoming Traveler , and The Compleat Backpacker (on Ten Cents a Month!).