Excerpt from the book

"A friend of ours was talking to a theatrical agent who was not particularly distinguished for the range of choice of his vocabulary."

I have consulted the online Merriam Webster, but none of the meaning (according to me) describes the meaning of distinguished in the above given context.


  1. marked by eminence, distinction (see DISTINCTION sense 5), or excellence
  2. befitting an eminent person

I personally think that "distinguished" in the above context means "known for".

Can you help me understand the meaning of the word in the given context?


You should scroll down to the middle of the same page. Where it reads, English Language Learners Definition of distinguished

known by many people because of some quality or achievement.

So, the agent in the given excerpt lacks the quality of selecting proper vocabulary.

  • Thank you! I totally forgot to check entire page. I just checked the top section. – Josh B Apr 11 at 18:35

To be "not particularly distinguished for the range of choice of his vocabulary" means he is not a wordsmith. He doesn't possess, or in conversation does not express a wide variety of words. Consider someone who uses 'very' to describe a wide variety of situations or experiences (e.g., 'very good', 'very tasty', 'very late'). A person who is distinguished for his range of choice in his vocabulary might instead use adverbs such as 'extremely', 'exceptionally', and 'vastly', or adjectives such as 'particular', 'exceptional', 'remarkable'. A person who is not particularly distinguished may only use the word 'very'.

  • Would it not actually be the opposite? Where "not particularly distinguished in the range of choice of his vocabulary" would certainly mean he does not speak with distinction, "not particularly distinguished for the range of choice of his vocabulary" would mean someone who, despite speaking very eloquently, is not a person of means or distinction. – Michael Apr 11 at 5:23
  • This is an interesting point @Michael. The next sentence in the passage quoted above is the following: "He was therefore a little startled to hear the word eclectic suddenly pop out." (see pg. 1 of I Always Look Up the Word Egregious, books.google.com/books/about/…) – konniptions Apr 11 at 7:45
  • Context is king. Your answer is borne out by evidence. Good job finding the next line. – Michael Apr 11 at 9:57
  • Thank you for your answer. I know the contextual definition of DISTINGUISH given in the paragraph. I requested for the suitable definition of the DISTINGUISHED in a given context from any standard dictionary. I was not able to find suitable definition in the dictionary. – Josh B Apr 11 at 18:23

As you have rightly pointed out DISTINGUISHED is used here in the sense KNOWN FOR or FAMOUS.

You can find the desired meaning in the Thesaurus portion of Merriam Webster online where in serial number (2) the meaning is: " standing above others in rank, importance, or achievement"

  • A distinguished astronomer who is widely respected in the field.
  • The second entry in the Merriam is "befitting an eminent person." – Josh B Apr 11 at 4:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.