Introduction

Have you ever wondered about the power of proverbs, or as they call them, wisdom of the ages. Learn more about proverbs and why they are important in oral cultures all around the world and learn 10 new words in context.


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Wisdom of the Ages

If you go barefoot, don’t plant thorns.

Haste makes waste.

Variety is the spice of life.

These pithy statements are examples of proverbs, often called the shortest art form. They use devices associated with poetry-rhythm, rhyme, and metaphor-to create vivid images that teach life’s lessons. Sometimes referred to as “the wisdom of thousands, the wit of one,” proverbs are chunks of human experience compressed into terse sentences. They tend to have several layers of meaning and apply to various situations. This may explain the ostensible folk wisdom of “Look before you leap” and “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Proverbs are an integral part of the oral tradition of most cultures and are often similar from one country to the next. They tend to follow patterns, like “Where there is X, there is Y” and “One of something is worth great amounts of something else.” This latter design is manifest in such advice as “One good head is better than a hundred strong hands” (England), “A friend is better than a thousand silver pieces” (Greece), and “A moment is worth a thousand gold pieces” (Korea).

The origins of proverbs are disparate; the Bible, mythology, and ancient philosophy are all sources of proverbial wisdom. While a few can probably be attributed to a specific person, most were invented by ordinary people in everyday circumstances. For example, “Don’t buy a pig in a poke” originated hundreds of years ago in the European marketplace, where unscrupulous merchants substituted cats for pigs. A poke was a bag for carrying goods, and shoppers who thought they were buying a pig in a poke might discover too late that they had bought a cat instead. This may also account for the expression “The cat’s out of the bag.” Some old sayings, like “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” don’t seem valid anymore. Yet in spite of the passing of time, many proverbs remain quite apt.

Proverbs, however, can be dangerous. Poetic devices like rhythm and ellipsis make their lessons so condensed and powerful that they sound true. But this prepackaged wisdom is not always useful or meritorious. For example, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” implies that physical punishment builds good character in children. Yet research suggests that such discipline can cause children to be more inimical than their peers. Nevertheless, proverbs continue to be treasured heirlooms, passed from one generation to the next. You know what they say-“Old habits die hard.”

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[00:00:00] Danny: Have you ever wondered about the power of Proverbs? Well, we’re gonna talk today about this power that comprises the wisdom of the ages, and this is exactly what the title of today’s word power episode is all about. We’re going to talk about Proverbs, and of course, since it’s a word power episode, That’s not going to be everything.

[00:00:22] We’re going to learn 10 new words in context, and let me tell you about these 10 words we’re going to learn. In today’s episode, we’re going to learn the word pithy, terse, ostensible, integral manifest, disparate, apt, ellipsis, meritorious, and inimical. So these are the 10 words we’re going to discuss in context of our today’s word power episode, Wisdom of the Ages.

[00:00:50] Are you interested yet? Of course you are, but that’s not everything. Remember that. You can find a lot of exercises on the website, englishpluspodcast.com. The link I’m going to leave you in the description of the episode is going to take you to the custom post I created for this episode where you are going to find interactive activities that you can do on the website from any device you have, or if you prefer pen and paper, there’s also the PDF practice worksheet that you can download and enjoy the many different activities you can find in this PDF practice worksheet. And by the PDF Practice Worksheet is not just about today’s episode. I always include a review of the previous four word power episodes. So if you’re very serious about building your vocabulary, you should consider downloading the PDF and practice from there.

[00:01:38] And don’t forget that I’m also including an interactive transcript of the episode that you can find in the same post. And this interactive transcript will help you see the words I’m saying exactly the same time you’re listening to them. And by the way, that’s not the only interactive part in them. You can also search for specific words that were included in the episode, and you can jump to these words and listen to them right away.

[00:02:01] It’s a really cool tool in your arsenal, so check it out. It’s also on the website in this link I’m going to leave you in the description of the episode, but now without further ado, let’s start with today’s episode. Today’s word, power episode, Wisdom of the Ages.

[00:02:17] “If you go barefoot, don’t plant thorns.” “Haste makes waste.” “Variety is the spice of life.” These pithy statements are examples of proverbs, often called the shortest art form. They use devices associated with poetry— rhythm, rhyme, and metaphor— to create vivid images that teach life’s lessons; sometimes refer to as the wisdom of thousands, the wit of one. Proverbs are chunks of human experience compressed into terse sentences. They tend to have several layers of meaning and apply to various situations. This may explain the ostensible folk wisdom of “Look before you leap” and “Absense makes the heart grow fonder.” Proverbs are an integral part of the oral tradition of most cultures and are often similar from one country to the next.

[00:03:17] They tend to follow patterns like where there’s X, there’s Y, and one of something is worth great amounts of something else. This latter design is manifest in such advice as “One good head is better than a hundred strong hands.” And that comes from England, or “A friend is better than a thousand silver pieces.” And this proverb comes from Greece, and “A moment is worth a thousand gold pieces.” And this proverb comes from Korea. So you see the similarities, right? The origins of Proverbs are disparate, the Bible, mythology and ancient philosophy are all sources of proverbial wisdom. While a few can probably be attributed to a specific person, most were invented by ordinary people in everyday circumstances.

[00:04:10] For example, “Don’t buy a pig in a poke” originated hundreds of years ago in the European marketplace where unscrupulous merchants substituted cats for pigs. A poke was a bag for carrying goods and shoppers who thought they were buying a pig in a poke might discover too late that they had bought a cat instead.

[00:04:31] This may also account for the expression, “The cat’s out of the bag.” Some old sayings like “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away” don’t seem valid anymore. Yet in spite of the passing of time, many proverbs remain quite apt. Proverbs, however, can be dangerous— poetic devices like rhythm and ellipsis make their lessons so condensed and powerful that they sound true, but this prepackaged wisdom is not always useful or meritorious.

[00:05:03] For example, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” implies that physical punishment builds good character in children. Yet research suggests that such discipline can cause children to be more inimical than their peers. Nevertheless, Proverbs continue to be treasured heirlooms passed from one generation to the next.

[00:05:25] You know what they say? “Old habits die hard.”

[00:05:28] So that was about Proverbs. That was about wisdom of the ages, and I hope you learned something new in today’s story about proverbs or wisdom of the ages. And now remember that we are here because it’s a Word power episode, and we’re going to focus on 10 words in context.

[00:05:46] We’re gonna talk more about these words. Let me remind you. We’re gonna talk about the words pithy, terse, ostensible, integral, disparate, apt, ellipsis, meritorious and inimical. That’s coming next. Don’t go anywhere. I’ll be right back.

[00:06:08] So let me start with the very first word we’re going to talk about in today’s episode. And this word is pithy. It’s not pity, it’s pithy. P I T H Y. Now, let’s remember how we used that in context. We said these pithy statements, and of course we’re talking about proverbs here. These pithy statements are examples of proverbs, often called the shortest art form. They use devices associated with poetry like rhythm, rhyme, and metaphor to create vivid images that teach life’s lessons. So this is the context of pithy. And now my question is, which words could best replace pithy in this context? Could we replace it with showing a lack of judgment, with forceful and brief, with causing harm or with characterized by repetition?

[00:07:02] So which one do you think is the right answer? I’ll give you a couple of seconds and I’ll be right back with the answer and some more explanation. Don’t go anywhere.

[00:07:15] Now for those of you who thought forceful and brief is the right answer, you are absolutely right. A pithy comment or piece of writing is short, direct, and full of meaning. So remember, two things, short and to the point, short, to the point, and full of meaning at the same time. So this is the meaning of pithy, our very first word in today’s word power episode, wisdom of the ages.

[00:07:41] Now, let’s move on to talk about the next word, terse. T E R S E, terse. Let’s remember how we used that in context. We said sometimes referred to as the wisdom of thousands, the wit of one, proverbs are chunks of human experience compressed into terse sentences. So what do we mean by that? Which word or words could best replace terse in this context?

[00:08:08] Could we replace terse with vigilant, irreverent, loud or brief and to the point. Which one do you think is the right answer? Think about it, and I’ll be right back.

[00:08:25] Now, for those of you who thought brief and to the point is the right answer, you’re absolutely right. So it’s kind of close to the word pithy, but terse is a little bit different. It leans more towards the direct approach and it’s usually unfriendly. It is not exactly like pithy. Pithy is almost always used in a positive sense, but terse is not.

[00:08:46] Terse is usually used in a negative way. So when we say a terse statement or a comment, yes, it is brief, but remember it is unfriendly. But again, it is to the point. It is like when we say abrupt, bursque, so some people use that and maybe not a lot of people like it when people do this, but these people usually tell the truth, but they don’t have a sugar-coated way to tell it.

[00:09:10] So they use terse statements. Sometimes people like it, sometimes people don’t. It depends on your preference, and for me, I love it when people use those terse statements. Of course, minus some situations when you really have to just postpone those terse statements. It’s just not the right time to use them. But usually I like those because they tell the truth in a very short and to the point way.

[00:09:33] So that was our second word for today’s episode. And now let’s move on to the next word, ostensible. O S T E N S I B L E. Ostensible. How did we use that in context? Let me remind you, we said this may explain the ostensible folk wisdom of “Look before you leap” and “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” So what does that mean?

[00:09:58] Which word could best replace ostensible in this context? Do you think we can replace it with apparent, confusing, unimaginative, or uninformed? Which one do you think is the right answer? Think about it, and I’ll be right back.

[00:10:18] Now, for those of you who thought a parent is the right answer, you are absolutely right. Ostensible is used to describe something that seems to be true or is officially stated to be true. But about which you or other people have doubts, so that is the meaning. It’s apparent you have doubts about it, but it’s actually true.

[00:10:38] Maybe it’s even officially true, officially stated to be true, but you still have doubts or some people have doubts about it. So it is ostensible. O S T E N S I B L E. Ostensible, that’s a very good word you could add to your vocabulary bank, to your permanent vocabulary bank. If you just take another step and take the link you can find in the description of the episode, go to my website, englishpluspodcast.com, to the custom post I created for this episode where you will find all the practice you need.

[00:11:08] Whether you are looking for interactive activities you will do on the website from any device you’re using, or if you want pen and paper, there’s the PDF practice worksheet that will review the words from today’s episode and also from the previous four word power episodes. But now let’s continue and talk about the next word, integral, I N T E G R A L integral.

[00:11:32] Let’s remember how we used that in context. We said Proverbs are an integral part of the oral tradition of most cultures and are often similar from one country to the next. So that’s the word integral. Now, which word or words could best replace integral in this context? Could we replace it with ridiculous, essential for completeness, embarrassing, or highly theoretical?

[00:11:59] Which one do you think is the right answer? Think about it, and I’ll be right back.

[00:12:08] Now, for those of you who thought essential for completeness is the right answer, you’re absolutely right because something that is an integral part of something, something else obviously, is an essential part of that thing. You can’t delete it. You can’t do without it. The thing you’re talking about will be missing.

[00:12:26] So in order for the completeness of this thing, you need this part. It is integral. It is essential for completeness, fundamental, necessary. That’s the meaning of integral. And that’s another word we are talking about in today’s word power episode. And let’s move on now to talk about the next word manifest.

[00:12:45] M A N I F E S T manifest. Now let’s see how we use that word in context. We said they tend to follow patterns like where there is X, there is Y, and one of something is worth great amounts of something else. This latter designed is manifest in such advice as “One good head is better than a hundred strong hands.”

[00:13:09] So here, as you notice, we do not use manifest as a verb. We used manifest as an adjective. But anyway, my question to you is, which word or words could best replace manifest in this context? Could we replace it with absent, joyful, obvious, or having regular cycles? Which one do you think is the right answer?

[00:13:31] Think about it, and I’ll be right back.

[00:13:39] Now, for those of you who thought obvious is the right answer, you are absolutely right. If you say that something is manifest, remember it’s an adjective. You mean that it is clearly true and that nobody would disagree with it if they saw it or considered it. So it is obvious. It’s apparent. It’s evident, manifest, is manifest. That’s the word. Maybe you know this word, but you didn’t know that we can use it this way. So this is the power of vocabulary. This is the power that you need to possess. Not only know just one way we can use words. A lot of words in English can be used in many different ways. And if you learn this, you will have word power.

[00:14:19] That’s what this series is all about. So anyway, that was our word. Let’s move on to the next word. disparate. And by the way, it’s not desperate. It’s different. Desperate. When you’re sad and when you have no hope anymore. That’s another. This one is D I S P A R A T E. Disparate. It sounds similar, but it’s obviously so different from desperate, but let’s remember how we use this word in context.

[00:14:45] We said the origins of Proverbs are disparate, the Bible, mythology and ancient philosophy are all sources of proverbial wisdom. This is the context. My question is, as usual, which word or words could best replace disparate in this context? Could we replace it with different, subject to destruction, repetitive or unable to change?

[00:15:11] Which one do you think is the right answer? Think about it, and I’ll be right back.

[00:15:19] Now, for those of you who thought different is the right answer, you are absolutely right. Disparate things are clearly different from each other in quality or type. They’re different. They’re contrasting, unlike, so here we’re talking about the origins of Proverbs. They did not all come from the same place.

[00:15:35] The origins are disparate, are different. They come from the Bible, from mythology, from folk tales, from ancient philosophy. These are all sources of proverbial wisdom. So that was our word, disparate. And now let’s move on to the next word, apt. A P T, very simple, apt. How did we use that word in context? We said some old sayings like “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” don’t seem valid anymore.

[00:16:01] Yet in spite of the passing of time, many proverbs remain quite apt. So what is this word? Which word could best replace apt in this context? Can we replace it with allowable, unlikely, disappointing or appropriate. Which one do you think is the right answer? Think about it, and I’ll be right back.

[00:16:28] Now, for those of you who thought appropriate is the right answer, you’re absolutely right. An apt remark, description, or choice is especially suitable. We’re talking about something timely. We’re talking about something, right? We’re talking about something appropriate. So remember we said, yeah, some proverbs don’t seem valid anymore.

[00:16:47] Like “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” You know it doesn’t work anymore, of course, but some proverbs are actually, many proverbs remain quite appropriate. Remain quite apt. That’s the word. Remember it. A P T, apt. Now let’s move on to the next word, ellipsis, E L L I P S I S ellipsis. Now, how did we use that in context?

[00:17:09] We said Proverbs. However, you have to be careful. Proverbs can be dangerous. Poetic devices like rhythm and ellipsis make their lessons so condensed and powerful that they sound true. But this prepackaged wisdom is not always useful or meritorious. No, meritorious is the next word. I’m just giving you a hint.

[00:17:29] But anyway, let’s focus on ellipsis we said. Those devices, those poetic devices like rhythm and ellipsis, make their lessons so condensed and powerful that they sound true. So the word is ellipsis. Now, ellipsis can be best explained as what? As a deceptive appearance, as an omission of a word or phrase, as a downward movement or as a lengthy description.

[00:17:55] Which one do you think is the right answer? Think about it, and I’ll be right.

[00:18:03] Now, for those of you who thought omission of a word or phrase is the right answer, you are absolutely right because that’s what ellipsis is all about. Now, this word has to do with linguistics. Of course, yes, it can be a poetic device, but absolutely it’s a linguistic thing. In linguistics, ellipsis means leaving out words rather than repeating them unnecessarily.

[00:18:23] For example, saying, I want to go, but I can’t. Instead of, I want to go, but I can’t go. You see? You don’t want to repeat it over and over. The word go here. So you just say, I want to go, but I can’t. You don’t need to repeat the word go. This is in essence what ellipse is all about. Now, of course, it can be more complicated than this, especially as a poetic device, but essentially this is what ellipsis is all about.

[00:18:47] And now as I told you, we had the word meritorious. That’s the word that we used in the same context, but I’m going to remind you again with the context, but let me just tell you about this word, how we spell this word. It’s M E R I T O R I O U S, meritorious. Now, if you know the meaning of the word merit, you’ll know the meaning of meritorious.

[00:19:08] This is just a more sophisticated word, but the meaning is very close. Anyway, Let’s remember the context. We said, Proverbs, however, can be dangerous. Poetic devices like rhythm and ellipsis make their lessons so condensed and powerful that they sound true. But this prepackaged wisdom is not always useful or meritorious, meritorious.

[00:19:30] So which word do you think could best replace meritorious in this context? Could we replace meritorious with deserving praise, with informal, with false, or with lacking intensity? Which one do you think is the right answer? Think about it, and I’ll be right back.

[00:19:51] Now, for those of you who thought deserving praise is the right answer, you are absolutely right. If you describe something as meritorious, you approve of it for its good or worthwhile qualities, and that’s what we said about this prepackaged wisdom. And here we’re not saying it is meritorious. We said it is not always useful or meritorious, so that’s why they can be dangerous.

[00:20:14] But anyway, that was our word, meritorious. And now we come to the very last word for today’s episode, and this one is inimical I N I M I C A L. Inimical. How did we use that in context? We said, for example, And here an example of a proverb, obviously, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Now this proverb implies that physical punishment builds good character in children.

[00:20:39] Yet research obviously suggests that such discipline can cause children to be more inimical than their peers. We’re focusing on the word inimical. Now, of course, we know that this doesn’t work anymore, but it used to be wisdom in the past. Remember that, and not a long time ago, this proverb was something kind of revered as wisdom.

[00:21:00] Anyway, we know that it’s not wise anymore. It’s not meritorious anymore, but our focus is not on meritorious, it’s on inimical. We said that research suggests that such discipline can cause children to be more inimical than their peers. So what about this word? Which word or words could best replace inimical in this context?

[00:21:22] Could we replace it with inspiring wonder and awe? Could we replace it with satisfied, hostile, or full of meaning? Which one do you think is the right answer? Think about it, and I’ll be right back.

[00:21:40] Now, for those of you who thought hostile is the best answer, you are absolutely right. Conditions that are inimical to something make it difficult for that thing to exist or do well because it’s hostile. It’s destructive, and that’s beating children instead of just making them better children or more disciplined children as the common wisdom of the past used to be.

[00:22:03] Now we know that this is not the way to go. We know that there are other ways to deal with children, to discipline children, and it’s not exactly to discipline children, but to just let them take control of their lives. It’s not about us, it’s about them. But of course, we’re not going deep into that because that will take maybe a series on its own.

[00:22:22] But anyway, the word is inimical and it basically means hostile. So this way of disciplining children by beating them, obviously according to “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” makes children more inimical, more hostile than their peers. And with that we come to the last word of today’s episode. Remember, we talked about 10 words in today’s episode.

[00:22:43] We talked about them in context. I gave you some options to think about and some time to pick the right answer. Remember we talked about the words, pithy, terse, ostensible, integral, manifest, disparate, apt, ellipsis, meritorious, and finally inimical. Remember that you can add all these words to your active vocabulary bank if you just follow the link you can find it in the description of the episode that will take you to the custom post I created for this episode on my website, englishpluspodcast.com. You will find many useful things in the post starting from the interactive transcript that you can use to follow along— listen and read at the same time, especially if you are having trouble following along and you don’t really understand every single word from the episode and you really want to, the interactive transcript is perfect for that. And of course you can search, for example, maybe after a week or two. You remember that we talked about the word inimical, but you can’t remember exactly what we said about this word, and you just wanna come back to this post, and you don’t want to go through the whole episode, the entire episode just to get to this word. You can simply search for the word inimical in this episode, and you’ll find where it was mentioned.

[00:23:56] Then you just go to this specific part and listen to it. So this is what I mean, interactive transcript. It’s not just a fancy thing. It’s a very useful thing. It is fancy, by the way, but at the same time it is very useful. So please check it out. It’s on the website. The link is in the description of the episode.

[00:24:12] That’s not everything. Of course, you will find in this post many different ways you can use to practice the words we talked about in today’s episode and add them to your active vocabulary bank. There are interactive activities that you can do on the website from any device you’re using, or if you prefer pen and paper, there’s the PDF practice worksheet that you can download and practice the words we talked about today, but there’s also something extra in the PDF that you can practice the 40 words we learned in the previous four word power episodes. So that might be something interesting for you, especially if you’re really serious about building your vocabulary.

[00:24:46] You can do that. And with that, we come to the end of today’s episode. I would like to thank you very much for listening to another episode, another word power episode from English Plus Podcast. This is your host, Danny. I will see you next time.

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