"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Monday, 17 August 2009


Trying to explain the difference between while and whilst made me realise that there are lots of words that mean pretty much the same thing but which we use in different contexts. Trying to explain when to use one and when the other is sometimes beyond me.
One such word is edification. The definition of edification is "instructed and encouraged in moral, intellectual, and spiritual improvement; uplifting enlightenment; education; illumination; instruction; or the act of being informed.

I would use edify rather than educate in the following context - "I write a Christmas message each year for the edification of my friends". Why? I don't know. My Christmas messages are rarely morally enlightening or spiritually uplifting! In fact, by using the word edification there is an element of tongue-in-cheek about it.


  1. Edification to me implies imparting knowledge in a more passive mode whereas education to me implies a more positive teaching approach.

    Your letter doesn't really try to educate us it simply puts the knowledge there and we can make of it what we will.

    OK none of that is perhaps strictly in accord(ance) with the meanings but it's an approach which fits with how I feel.

  2. While/whilst is one of those posers. Another is among/amongst.
    'She stood among the flowers.'
    'Amongst the many reasons to do this, political correctness is the silliest.' I don't know, maybe both of the above are wrong. Usually I use whichever sounds better to my ear. I may be incorrect, but sometimes you have to trust your instincts! :0)
    The Canadian Chickadee