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Lightning bugs

September 28, 2012
Posted at 12:09 pm
Updated: September 28, 2012 - 12:10 pm

This morning I was reminded of Mark Twain's dictum that "the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." Usually, the distinction doesn't bother me. As far as I'm concerned, in many contexts, one word is as good as another, as long as the meaning is clear. This morning, however, I posted a rhyme called Teacher Sally. A little while later I posted a revision, thinking that would be it, but then ten minutes later I realized I had to change one word in the last line to make it perfect. The word I changed was "vaginal," and the word I changed it to was "feminine," which added a second layer of meaning to the joke. Nothing else would do. For once, on one small plot of ground, lightning had struck.