Puffery alert

I just passed by a sign in a window which said: "If this door is locked, please utilize the side door." Utilize. Wouldn't use have worked just as well? Oh well, I am on the campus of a university, where signs become signage. where buildings become facilities, and where teachers become educators.

I suspect the human thirst for significance causes people to use three syllable words when one or two would do. What else could explain people substituting individual for person?? The word individual has a purpose, and it is not as a substitute for the word person. The IRS has it right: individual taxes as opposed to corporate taxes. You only use the word "individual" to contrast a single person to a group. But to say "Saddam is one evil individual" is to attempt to bestow the appearance of intellectuality to a statement which would be better expressed emotionally: "Saddam is a total bastard."

Some use the word facility as a substitute for the word building. This robs us of the use of the word facility for other more descriptive purposes. Facility arises from the word facile, which is roughly synonomous with nimble. "Her facile fingers flew across the keyboard." It is so much more appealing to envision somebody with facility at the keyboard than it is to imagine somebody utilizing a facility.

As for utilize, I can't think of any reason to choose it over use. It is an ugly word.