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Is this proper use of the word vernacular?

Wow! Curmudgeons is a cool word! I'm going to add it to my vernacular.

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3 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

This is an incorrect use of vernacular; it really should be vocabulary. The reason why this is incorrect is that vernacular refers to the vocabulary of common words shared by a group of people. You cannot add new words to it at the drop of a hat.

It may be misleading to say my vernacular; it is important to realize that this means the vernacular you share, not the corpus of words you personally ordinarily use. Your personal word list is called your vocabulary.

You can see the incorrect way in use by googling "add it to my vernacular" (47 results), and the correct way by googling "add it to my vocabulary" (266).

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i agree vocabulary is probably more clear, but i was still curious. –  Andrew Nov 3 '11 at 20:36
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I think using vernacular in this manner is an eggcorn of sorts: it starts with the same letter as the appropriate word (vocabulary) and it means something in the same ballpark, so people think it's ok. However, unless you're Lord High Vernacular Police or something, you can't add words to a vernacular, not even if you happen to speak that vernacular. –  Marthaª Nov 3 '11 at 20:56
    
that's a good way of putting it Martha, thank you! –  Andrew Nov 3 '11 at 21:00
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The Google link is a typical case of misleading about nnnn results. It starts off claiming there are about 49,900 results, but when you page through them it turns out there are only 44 - so it's not "oft-used" at all. You're quite right the standard word is vocabulary (I wouldn't have a problem with lexicon, or even ideolect), but I can't bring myself to upvote while you've got "oft-used" in there! –  FumbleFingers Nov 3 '11 at 21:30
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This is not the correct use. You're assuming that you can add the word "Curmudgeons" among a group of people, not just yourself.

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A vernacular is the language spoken by a certain group or people living in a certain area (see OALD and CALD). Use in your example sentence is inappropriate unless it is used humorously or metaphorically.

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