SoCS — Squishy Words

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There are certain words in the English language that I consider to be “squishy.” Words like “suppose,” or “think,” or “believe.”¬†All three of these words denote (or is it connote?) uncertainty.

For example,

  • I suppose I can get there in time.
  • I think I can get there in time.
  • I believe I can get there in time.

The problem with these squishy words is that, in each case, I don’t know if I can get there in time. I can try to get there in time, but I can’t be certain.

But the squishiest word of them all is “guess.”

People know they’re being squishy because of the way they wrap the word “guess” up. They may say, “Well, if I had to guess….” No, you don’t have to guess. No one is putting a gun to your head and forcing you to guess at something.

Or maybe they’ll offer to “hazard a guess.” That means they’re taking a risk, perhaps even a dangerous one, that they may be wrong about what it is they’re guessing.

Even an “educated guess” is still just a guess. Presumably the person who makes an educated guess knows something about the topic on which he or she is making the guess. But while an “educated guess” may reduce the possibility that the guess is wrong, it doesn’t guarantee that it’s right.

I admit to being guilty of using the words “guess,” “suppose,” “think,” and “believe” all the time. But when I ask someone a question and that person is not sure of the answer, I’d prefer to be told “I don’t know” instead of “I guess.”

And with that said, I believe I have covered this topic sufficiently, although I suppose I could provide some more examples. No, I think I’ve said enough.

I guess.


Written for today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt from Linda G. Hill, which is to write a post using or about the word “guess.”