Twice in the past several days, I’ve come across usage of the word “conceit” in a way that I have never seen it used before. At least, I do not remember having seen it used in this way, but let’s face it – I’m over 50, brain cells are dropping as rapidly as hair in the shower drain.
These references were made, in both cases, to written works. A foray into Dictionary.com tells me that “conceit” is known primarily for the first-listed definition – “excessively favorable opinion” of one’s self – but there are four more definitions that have more to do with ideas and the creativity of the mind than they do with arrogance or narcissism.
Where have I been all my life? Why do I not know this? I’m pretty well-read; that’s not conceit, but leans more toward confession. And I studied literature and poetry, so I’m not sure how I could have missed “conceit” as used by the likes of Shakespeare.
In trying to connect the two uses of the word, I’m speculating that the common component is a notion that is not based in reality. Is painting a fanciful picture of one’s self really any different than painting a fanciful picture of one’s lover?
Now to figure out why I’ve been alerted to the concept of “conceit” at this late stage in life!
- Perhaps it is not “conceit” itself, but the fact that there can be multiple meanings to things, of which we can remain unaware for years and years.
- Lack of awareness of the tree falling does not mean it makes no thud (where have I heard this one before? 😉 ).
- Despite having worked for years at being “well-read”, it turns out I don’t know jack.
Guess I’m being told to look more closely.
Oh and by the way – I can’t remember where the first reference was seen (probably some forum I read – and see previous remarks about dying brain cells), but it was closely followed by a scene in the Daniel Radcliffe film Kill Your Darlings, which I streamed from Amazon the other night, and which I highly recommend. Here’s a link –