Difficult Words : Didactic, Dictum, Diffident, Digress, Dilettante and Discern

Difficult Words: Didactic, Dictum, Diffident, Digress, Dilettante and Discern

Dictum (DAK tum) n: an authoritative saying; an adage; a maxim; a proverb

No pain no gain is a hackneyed dictum of sadistic coaches everywhere.


Diffident (DIF I dunt) adj: timid; lacking in self-confidence

The diffident student never made a single comment in class.

Diffident and confident are opposites.

Mary's stammer made her diffident in conversation and shy in groups of strangers.

A boss's diffidence led many participants to believe he hadn't been present at the meeting, even though he had.


Didactic (dye DAK tik) adj: intended to teach; morally instructive; pedantic

Luther's seemingly amusing talk had a didactic purpose. He was trying to show his listeners the difference between right and wrong.

The Priest's conversation was always didactic. He never said anything that wasn't intended to teach a lesson.

The new novel is painfully didactic. The author’s aim is always to instruct and never to entertain.


Digress (di GRESS) u: to stray from the main subject

Speaking metaphorically, to digress is to leave the main highway in order to travel aimlessly on back roads. When a speaker digresses, he departs from the main topic and tells a story only distantly related to it.

Such a story is called a digression. Sometimes a writer's or speaker's digressions are more interesting than his or her main points.

After a lengthy digression, the lecturer returned to his speech and brought it to a conclusion.


Dilettante (DIL I TAHNT) n: someone with superficial knowledge of the arts; an amateur; a dabbler

To be dilettante is to dabble in something rather than doing it in a serous way.

Reginald said he was an artist, but he was merely a dilettante. He didn't know a pencil from a paintbrush.

Helen dismissed the members of the Idles sculpture club as nothing more than a bunch of dilettantes.


Discern (di SURN) v: to have insight; to see things clearly, to discriminate; to differentiate

To discern something is to perceive it clearly. A writer whose work demonstrates discernment is a writer who is keen observer.

The ill-mannered People at Louise's party proved that she had little discernment when it came to choosing friends.

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