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Increasing Your Vocabulary: Aplomb

Aplomb is a word that isn’t commonly used, but it very well could be. This is a noun that describes certain people that almost everyone has met or knows about.

In the biblical story of David and Goliath, David was aplomb when he faced the warrior giant, Goliath. In team sports, outstanding athletes are sometimes aplomb. Many times, heroes are aplomb, too.

The word is pronounced “uh-plum” and it means imperturbable, self-confident, upright, stable, or unflappable. Someone who keeps their cool when they are under a great deal of pressure is aplomb.

The thesaurus lists coolness, calmness, composure, self-confidence, and poise as having similar meanings. Aplomb is the opposite of self-consciousness, embarrassment, or confusion.

David, facing a much larger and experienced foe, with the odds seemingly stacked against him, approached the situation with total confidence and calmness. Thus, he was aplomb. Since he overcame the situation, the confidence was justified.

Interestingly, people who are aplomb are often successful. That could be an indicator regarding how desirable it is to have this trait.

The word comes from Latin and it actually means ‘according to lead weight’. This really isn’t confusing since stable and upright are part of the definition and lead is heavy enough to be stable and steady.

See if you can use this word a few times in the next few days. If it is properly used, you’ll be more likely to remember the word and the meaning.

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Written by Rex Trulove

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7 Comments

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  1. Aplomb is often used in the French language and means the same thing as the English version. I used to have a lot of “aplomb” when I was a nurse as I used to treat all kinds of patients from obnoxious to totally dependant, from accident victims with broken limbs and head injuries and internal trauma to very infectious where you has to in an isolation gowned, gloved, booted and a headcap etc. I just had to leave that profession which I did but I kept my “aplomb” up to a certain degree when facing situations and people. Excellent article and great definition of a French and English (glory be to the Latin language).

  2. Aplomb is an interesting word. It would be a wonderful thing for all students to learn it and come to understand its meanings.

    Calm poise certainly describes David’s demeanor but self-confidence was not his stance. In first Samuel 17 we learn that David’s confidence was clearly in the living God who had rescued him from previous dangers.

    David’s life is an amazing study with many lessons worth understanding. Self-confidence nearly destroyed him at one point, and certainly diminished his life, but calm poise helped him remain confident in God’s promises to His people many more times.

    He himself learned the definition better than most, though the word itself has more modern roots. Thanks for consideration of this word. It really should be used more often and I expect to use it in a game of Scrabble soon.

    • Until last year, I used to be a football fan. Aplomb can be easily used to describe a quarterback who steps back in the pocket and holds on to the ball, waiting for a receiver to come open, then letting the ball go accurately, knowing that he is going to be blasted by one or more defenders.

      Soldiers are often aplomb, as are policemen and firemen. You’re right; I can think of a number of incidents when people were aplomb. I even see it with people who go out of their way to rescue trapped wildlife, knowing full well that the animal could inflict severe damage if it chooses to.

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