– Kathy Bullock

Was Glen Abbey Toastmasters rash in holding a regular meeting on Wednesday night?  Not at all!  It was a deliberate decision made after deliberation.  Can you guess what the word of the day was at our meeting?   Deliberate carefully before you answer, don’t rush.

If you had to underline different versions of the word of the day, and you underlined “deliberate” and “deliberation,” you would be right!  Our grammarian introduced several variations of the word “deliberate,” in its verb, adjectival and adverb forms.  Dictionary.com defines the verb “deliberate” in slightly different ways, depending if it is to be used with or without an object.  

  • A. to weigh in the mind; consider (with an object): 
    • to deliberate a question 
  • B. to think carefully or attentively; reflect (used without object):
    • She deliberated for a long time before giving her decision.
  • to consult or confer formally: 
    • The jury deliberated for three hours.

As an adjective dictionary.com offers three nuances:

  • A. carefully weighed or considered; studied; intentional: 
    • a deliberate lie.
  • B. characterized by deliberation or cautious consideration; careful or slow in deciding:
    • Moving away from the city and all its advantages required a deliberate decision.
  • C. leisurely and steady in movement or action; slow and even; unhurried:
    • moving with a deliberate step.

As an adverb, “deliberately” is connected to the central idea here, which revolves around the idea of doing something slowly, carefully, and on purpose:

  • A. on purpose; with clear intent: 
    • Is this just bad journalism, or an attempt to deliberately mislead the public?
  • B. with careful thought or consideration: 
    • The board is committed to moving deliberately on this important initiative.
  • C. in a calm and unhurried way: 
    • He was careful to move slowly and deliberately so as not to scare them off.

We can see in all these subtle distinctions the connections between being “unhurried” and “intentional.”  But unless you knew the meaning of the word in advance, you might be confused by these various uses:  What can we see connecting: “She moved the Queen to check the King after deliberating for 15 minutes” to “She walked deliberately into the cold river”?

Unfortunately, there is no method to the madness of English, but if we deliberately memorise the meanings of words, we may deliberate well in our word choices for our speeches.