Nobody Gets Away With Just One Word!

Will one word describe it?

Nobody gets away with just one word. Right? A popular trend these days offers challenges to say it with 50 words or less. Tell your life story in just ten words. There are even six word efforts with examples.

Now ask yourself, do you want to be limited to the number of words to say what’s on your mind? Details! How is it possible to fully explain or describe anything without the specifics? Who really wants

to do that?

Stretching the imagination a bit you could get there

Surprisingly, there seems to be a few out there. Google records hundreds of millions for limited word challenges. However, there is another challenge that at one time seemed to be equally as popular called Lipograms.

Sure, you want to know what the heck is a Lipogram. The first few letters of that word may cause the mind to think of “lipo” such as in liposuction. Stretching the imagination a bit you could get there.

Actually it is when writing, a particular letter is left out of whatever is being written. Here’s an example of writing a lipogram excluding the letter “e”;

Upon this basis I am going to show you how a bunch of bright young folks did find a champion; a man with boys and girls of his own; a man of so dominating and happy individuality that Youth is drawn to him as is a fly to a sugar bowl.”

Ever hear of logology?

Odd…right? That’s a lipogram. You think that’s pretty strange but there’s more. Ever hear of logology? This you may recognize by what it is more than what it’s called. Also known as word play, speech play or verbal art, this is where some real fun takes place. Here’s one example:

What’s the difference between the Prince of Whales and a tennis ball? One is heir to the throne and the other is thrown in the air.”

Yeah? And another;

The value of marriage is not that adults produce children but that children produce adults.”

Groucho Marx had a famous line from a movie titled “Duck Soup” dating back to 1933. It goes like this. 

I’ve got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it!” This referring to Harpo for some invented frustrating action. 

No is nearly automatic for many no matter what the topic

Then there are the more famous declarations surrounded by one word. Perhaps the most famous is…”No!” Most likely followed by “Yes” but at most a lengthy second. No is nearly automatic for many no matter what the topic. Some have turned it into a sentence such as “No, no and no!” Then there’s “No! Not no but hell no!”

Not exactly an enlightening choice of words to convey something meaningful. None the less they do make a statement. However stories of any interest are painfully absent of emotion and much more when words are drastically reduced.

Think on it. How enjoyable would it be to attempt reading an adventure novel missing all the “e’s?” Even more, can you imagine talking to someone deliberately leaving out that letter? The real excitement might come when any listener thinks you’re having a stroke!

There are over 600,000 choices in the English language

On the other hand, have you seen the various versions of those so called tests where they jumble all the letters of a word except for the first and last? Such as nicnmpooop. Bet you got it. Didn’t you? So maybe it’s just another form of brain teaser when a letter is left out.

But nobody gets away with just one word. Go ahead. Try it. It’s kinda like eating potato chips. You can’t eat just one. The temptation to keep on spitting out verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, articles and pronouns is just too great. There are over 600,000 choices in the English language, excluding almost that many more scientific and technical terms.

Reportedly the most prolific in the world out of 2,700 known languages. It didn’t get that way with just one word. Right? A good example might be with that famous one word reply. No! If it ended right there a good case could be made that one word is enough.

But it doesn’t. That word is nearly guaranteed to be followed by an excuse, explanation, or some such to justify it’s use. The same applies to “maybe,” or “really,” and must automatically include a story of explanation for that choice of that word.

Could one word or lack thereof make a difference

It could be due to the culture. Those that tend to be more dictatorial might get away with one word, at the threat of dire consequences should any explanation be requested or even suggested. 

A great case can be made for the saying that supports no words. “Silence is golden.” While to speak could be condemning it seems not to speak could be equally so. Could one word or lack thereof make a difference? This raises the question as it applies to “Help!” Yet that word also needs explanation.

“Stop or I’ll shoot!”

Help as it applies to danger, or changing a flat tire. Or it could be just getting across the street. “Stop” is yet another. What needs to stop? Again, that one word is not enough. “Stop or I’ll shoot!” Now that conveys a story of drastic proportions. So again the case is made that nobody gets away with just one word.

There are absolutely those moments where no words are necessary. And many times when they simply can’t be used to express sensations and feelings at those moments when there are none adequate. When rage is so intense that the brain almost seems to have a short circuit to communicate those feelings. 

Or the opposite, when feelings of love can only be expressed by actions that hopefully go beyond just words. You know those moments, because we’ve all been there. During the course of life each will encounter those extremes. When words can’t begin to tell what you want. One most definitely can’t get the job done.

Why limit ones self to one, or even just two or three

As you think and consider, why would you want to use a minimum of words at those extreme moments? It’s a safe bet that being tongue-tied and unable to speak even one coherent word when life is so intense is more likely.

So you see, it’s pretty plain that nobody gets away with just one word. Imagine if you happen to be fluent in another language. That could add another 200,000 or so words depending on the country. Why limit ones self to one, or even just two or three? Women as a rule spew out roughly 50,000 words per day! Men average just about 10,000.

Ever wonder how many times the same words are repeated in the course of a day? Since gossip is prevalent in our society, chances are way up there that some of those 50,000 verbal expressions are almost on a loop, or constantly repeated.


There could be a case for one word being not only sufficient, but one that is capable of generating many others with it’s definition.  Referred to as “P45,” it is the longest word in the English dictionary. Ready for it? Here it is.

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. What doe it mean? Here’s the origin of this word. 

It is a word invented by the president of the National Puzzlers’ League as a synonym for the disease known as silicosis. It is the longest word in the English language published in a dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines it as “an artificial long word said to mean a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust.”

So there is a case where one word could be enough if you consider it’s definition. The flip side is it may not fit what you’re trying to say or convey. Just consider when “no” really doesn’t mean no. It gets used to require more information to lead to a yes. You can remember times when that has been the case.

This is my contribution to hammer home the point that nobody gets away with just one word. Not even me. Even though it should be obvious all things must reach a conclusion. It can be described in one word. Here it is.


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Alan Written by:

Alan is retired and resides in Quito, Ecuador. Writing is a passion which has resulted in two eBooks thus far, with more in the works. Married 47 years with four sons and 13 grandchildren, provides potential grist for the mill! Alan is a charter "Boomer", a Viet Nam veteran, committed to roasting his own coffee and writes about whatever pops into his mind. He loves to build and ride recumbent bikes, play racquetball, writes almost daily, travels Ecuador, and talks to anything that does not move fast enough! The twinkle in his eye is a combination of the sun, and an active sense of humor. His desire to encourage others to write is being answered through his articles on the Internet.