On the Imprecision of Words


Energy.

It’s a fraught and over-used word in my line of business, one that captures an entire constellation of meaning and whose very broadness and imprecision risks making it an unintelligible concept altogether.

Here are some of the ways it’s most commonly used and their closest plain English equivalents:

1. She’s got good energy. She’s got good vibes.

2. The class had great energy. They were really into it.

3. That student really drained my energy. He made me do all the work.

4. I didn’t seal in my energy. I let them get to me.

5. I had low energy this morning. I didn’t get a chance to drink my coffee.

6. She brings really bad energy. She gets on everybody’s nerves.

7. How’s the energy of the space? What’s the atmosphere of the place?/What does it feel like in there?

8. What’s the energy exchange? How much does it cost?/What do I have to trade in exchange?

9. He’s got way too much energy. He’s hyperactive./He needs to let off some major steam.

Have you got a pet phrase involving the word “energy”?

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