If you did a survey of people’s New Year’s resolutions, you’d probably find one item on almost all of those lists: losing weight. Maybe it’s the thought of a new year and new beginnings, or the realization that the holiday season and all its feasting has left a rather substantial impact on the waistline, but excess poundage is definitely something people want to get rid of at the end of the year. Other people look at the new year as an opportunity to get rid of old habits, or to clean out their closets and get rid of old clothes. In any case, it’s a good time to make a new beginning and think of the extraneous things you could leave behind that will let you make room for something new and better.
The meaning of the word extraneous is fairly easy to figure out when you look at the first half of the word. When you think of the word “extra” you might have a good feeling, like the one you get when the person making your peppermint mocha adds a bit more sweet whipped cream than usual, with a smile and a wink. On the other hand, you might be thinking of having too much, being burdened, carrying around a heavy load that you’d like to get rid of. A lot of websites and books and even television shows are based on the concept of “getting rid of clutter” to make life easier and simpler, and that’s definitely included in the meaning of the word.
Synonyms for “extraneous” include irrelevant, nonessential, superfluous, and redundant. In conversations and writing, you can practice being concise and using only the words you need to communicate your thoughts. When you’re communicating in a clear and precise fashion, you’ll find that it’s easier to connect to other people and impress them with your ideas. Getting into shape is always a good goal, and if you find that your pantry is full of nonessential snack foods or baking mixes, you could donate them to a local food drive. Instead of continuing to accumulate a clutter of toys in a child’s playroom, go through them and donate ones they’ve outgrown as well, to local churches or community centers.
But don’t throw out the words you’ve been adding to your vocabulary! Unlike packaged cake mixes and plastic toys, vocabulary words take up no room at all in your brain – there’s always room for one more. Make your resolution this year to fatten up your vocabulary, and start 2014 with new words and a new perspective on language.