Cauldron: (n) a situation characterized by instability and strong emotions.
Actually the most difficult matter is making sure that your writing hasn’t “aged out.” In other words, do people know what the hell you’re talking about?
It happened to me several weeks ago when I was working on a passage in a novel, and decided to insert the word “cauldron”–as referring to a problem that was simmering inside my plot, without people knowing how dangerous it truly was.
The dear lady who does my typing stopped and looked at me with a quizzical face and asked, “Cauldron?”
She does this from time to time. It’s her way of saying I’ve come up with some obscure word that no one will understand and therefore they will assume that my awareness of pop culture ceased somewhere between Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.
It raises the question, when are we being sensitive to the market and when are we joining into the universal “dumbing down” of our society?
Is it too much to ask a reader to look up a word or search for context clues? Are we a generation that is just going to squint and opine, “I don’t know that word…”
Some words should die. Maybe they represented something evil or there’s a better replacement for them in today’s language.
But sometimes a word needs to be toted from the Conestoga wagon, onto the bicycle, into the Model T Ford, placed carefully on the airplane and finally situated safely in the rocket to outer space.