Posted: 17 Feb 2014 08:43 PM PST
I read a celebrity quotation that asserted that a rumor being circulated about her was “ludicrously silly.” The statement struck me as ridiculous.
Silly is a synonym for ludicrous; using one to intensify the other is overkill.
In recent years, ludicrous has become celebrity-speak for plain old ridiculous. As a result, a subtle difference between the two is being lost.
Rapper Christopher Bridges, known as Ludacris, told an MTV interviewer that he based his stage name on his “split personality,” which he described as being “ridiculous and ludicrous.” Bridges apparently perceives a difference between the words, (what that is, he doesn’t say), but other celebrities seem to have latched onto ludicrous as if it were merely a classier word than the more familiar ridiculous.
It seems to me that in each of the above quotations, the speaker was reaching for ridiculous or perhaps a word with some other connotation that would be more appropriate in the context.
Ridiculous seems to me to be less judgmental than ludicrous. Something ridiculous provokes laughter because it is incongruous. For example, a man wearing a lampshade for a hat presents a ridiculous sight.
Something ludicrous is both incongruous and contemptible. For example, a nineteen-year-old with the full use of his legs riding on the shoulders of his bodyguards while touring the Great Wall of China presents a ludicrous sight.
Each of the following synonyms is a word for a dwelling: house, palace, shack, hut, hovel, mansion. They may be synonyms, but each conveys a sparks a different feeling in the reader or listener.
English possesses numerous adjectives used to convey the meaning ludicrous, most of which are synonyms, but each of which carries some difference in connotation. Here are some: