Brilliant or Erudite?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is DISTINCTION

Which got me to thinking about the difference in meaning between DIFFERENT and DISTINCT. It’s rather slight: in both cases Merriam-Webster uses the one to define the other.

I then hopped over to goodreads and discovered this quote:

“A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.”
― Henry Hazlitt, Thinking as a Science

I was intrigued by, but not totally sold on, this statement. He may be right. On the other hand, I’m sure there are people who are very intelligent who haven’t had much “book learning” and can’t explain “the subtle nuances of meaning” between different and distinct.

Here are two more words that may run parallel, but are not the same and may diverge quite a bit:
ERUDITE: having or showing knowledge that is gained by studying
BRILLIANT: distinguished by unusual mental keenness or alertness

Many times as I’ve been using knitting needles, I thought about the brilliant person who figured out how to wrap yarn around a needle and poke a second needle through, wrap more yarn around it, and actually create a fabric. How many different words did that person know?

What do you think? Is Mr Hazlitt’s statement true, or just an educated man’s understanding of knowledge and thinking?

3 thoughts on “Brilliant or Erudite?

  1. I’ve always thought that the overuse of profanity is an indication that one’s vocabulary is lacking. I don’t think, however, that vocabulary has much to do with intelligence. Some people use flowery speech to sound intelligent or wise.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I always thought that the use of profanity indicates a lack of maturity. 😊 Otherwise I tend to agree: some people use vocab to sound wise. However, it doesn’t seem to come off well soon becomes obvious they don’t really get the meaning of the words they’re using.
    Thanks for your comment.

    Liked by 1 person

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