I saw the old thief, Father Time,
Come hirpling down the road;
He had a sack upon his back,
Lost minutes were his load.
He opened it and showed to me
Not minutes, but a host
Of years, decades, a century
And more of minutes lost.
"I want to buy year," I said,
"And I shall pay you well."
"If this earth's mould were finest gold,
To you I would not sell,
For I have minutes stolen from kings,
From Milton, Shakespeare, Bach.
How could you buy such precious things?
Your common gold is trash!"…
He tied his sack and said, "Farewell.
Young man, I've got my fee,"
For, while I tried to make him sell,
He stole an hour from me!
-- Harvey Scott
How many moments will old Father Time try to steal from you and me in 2021?
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?