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Abnegation is a synonym for renunciation or self-denial. Do we not have enough words in the English language? Do we honestly need this one? I don’t think so.

I know what you’re going to say. Having a number of synonyms that we can use for objects, actions and attributes of those objects and actions makes our writing and conversations more colorful and less tedious. True enough.

It’s terrific to be able to use almost interchangeably, for instance, gorgeous, stunning, ravishing, beautiful, exquisite, lovely, and many more words of that ilk. Employing the full range of that cornucopia of synonyms when complementing women hasn’t improved my love life any, but I welcome the words anyway.

But abnegation? When was the last time you heard anyone (other than me just now) use abnegation in a sentence? For me it was, let me see, hmm, there are an average of 30 days in a month, times 12 months in a year, times … um, never.

And how many synonyms do we need for renunciation and self-denial? Are these really things that we feel the need to talk about endlessly? I don’t think so.

I say, let’s retire abnegation and stick with simply renunciation and self-denial. That will save some of the trees that go into making dictionaries. It will reduce the labor costs involved in writing dictionaries. And, most important, it would have reduced my work in this project, although it’s too late for that now.

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