Mr. Grundy’s English Class

Word Choice.

Ernest Hemingway is said to have paused writing for days while searching for the right word. I don’t have the patience for that, though I will put my pen down and spend a few minutes racking my brain for the word on the tip of my tongue. I suspect Ernest had more on his mind than finding lexicologic Nirvana.

One word that I rarely have occasion to use is “ilk.” In fact, I can’t think of a time when I have used it. The dictionary notes that ilk is derived from a Scottish word meaning his land, or “of the place or estate of the same name.”
Ilk
Noun: of that ilk; plural noun: of that ilks
“Sir Boss Braveheart of that Ilk,” meaning “of that place that bears his name.”

However, over time, ilk has become associated with unsavory characters such as hoodlums, bruisers, outcasts, and politicians, those whom the better sort find undesirable to rub elbows with.

“Bank robbers and their ilk.”
“Those wicked Huns and their ilk.”
“Ilk of the sort that toss kittens back and forth.”
“Little Johnnie; don’t you be like that mean little Eddie and his ilk.”

Ilk. Ilk. It sounds of illness, ill health, ill repute. It sounds like ewwwwwww! Ewwwwwwlk!

Ilk may appear suitable for uses such as “Doctors and their ilk,” or “Awwwww, look at those sweet nuns and their ilk,” but common use has bent it to nefarious ends.

Word choice is everything. While a word might seem to suit your need, be careful that you don’t select it based on the highest definition; look further down the list and see what shady connotations and their ilk it may be associated with…with whom it may be associated….for other associations…choose another word! 🙂

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