Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N: Negligent (A-Z Blog Challenge: Evocative words)

You should know better!

That's the difference between negligence and ordinary forgetfulness or carelessness. If I forget my keys or a book I was supposed to return, I was careless. If I forget to pick up my child, I'm negligent. Like yesterday's post about Mendacity. There are lies and there are LIES.  It's all a matter of scale.

In our litigious society, the standard for what can be construed as negligence is becoming distorted indeed. A fast food place is sued because someone burned herself on their coffee.  Was it really negligence that the coffee wasn't labeled as hot? After all, most of us expect coffee to be hot. Could we instead sue the mother of the coffee-burnt woman for not teaching her child that coffee might be hot?

That situation smacks of the ridiculous and is certainly very different than an employer who knows that something in the workplace environment will give the employees cancer, but chooses not to do anything about it.

This is one of the reasons that words are so important, and that hyperbole and other types of exaggeration can be dangerous. 

As Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

Let's keep a sense of proportion here, people.
This post is part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge.


  1. Frivolous lawsuits are so aggravating, even if I cant stand the target company. (not to be confused with Target, the company. lol) You're right, there are situations where we should assume a base level of common sense.

    Great quote at the end, about the importance of using the right word. It's why I'm jealous of people with a better vocabulary than me (which is everyone)

  2. Thanks, Chris. Mark Twain definitely had a way with words. I admire his humor.