This list of the fifty words appearing in the New York Times that are most frequently looked up by the paper’s readers has been making the rounds. I use twenty-six of the words often enough to describe them as part of my working vocabulary: apoplectic, apotheosis, banal, enervating, ersatz, feckless and fecklessness, fungible, glut, inchoate (one of my all-time favorite words), interlocutor, hagiography and hagiographic, laconic, louche, neologisms, peripatetic, peroration, recondite, risible, sanguine, sartorial, schadenfreude, shibboleths, and solipsistic and solipsism (remember The Tao of Steve?).
Inquiring minds want to know: how is it possible that 1,865 readers of the New York Times don’t know what banal means?
UPDATE: A reader writes:
The list is probably skewed by younger readers since it only registers online activity. We codgers, who read the print version, are not reflected in the count. Codgers have had more opportunities to learn words like louche and feckless.
Makes sense to me.