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Expanding Your Vocabulary: Lucid

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A lot of people have a good idea of what ‘lucid’ means. However, the word isn’t used nearly as often as it really should be. In part, that could be because in today’s society, few things are lucid.

Lucid, pronounced “lu-sid”, means light, transparent, or clear. The word comes from the Latin term, “lucidus”, and the root of the word is lux, which literally means “light”. In fact, many photographers and others who deal with light intensity use a measurement of light called lux or lumen, both of which come from the same root as lucid.

Some people may have heard of lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is often described as when a person dreams and is in control of the dream. While this is true, more accurately, a person who is having a lucid dream simply realizes that they are dreaming. Thus, the dream is transparent.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle like to say how they want to be transparent, though neither side ever is. The proper term is that they want to have a campaign that is lucid. Politics, though, nearly always involves secrecy, so lucid (or transparent) politics is virtually an oxymoron.

Using the term in a different way, one of the goals of most writers is to be lucid. If a writer is lucid, it means that their writing is clear, which means that it is very understandable. This is sometimes equated with “dumbing it down”, but that isn’t the meaning. Most successful writers write at an 8th or 9th-grade level, but the purpose is to make the writing understandable to most people, not because they think that people are stupid. This is lucid writing; writing as understandably as possible so that the reader understands what the writer means to say.

Likewise, church pastors who are lucid with their sermon tend to be the most successful. They are clear in what they are trying to convey. This is a sign of an excellent pastor.

Here is a challenge for the week: See if you can use the word ‘lucid’ in conversation 10 times this week. This shouldn’t be hard to do and the surprising thing is how many people will have a very good idea of what you are saying. That means that you can be lucid while using the word, ‘lucid’.

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Written by Rex Trulove

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