Wisdom shows up in the oddest places sometimes. While visiting the Society of Physics Students lounge at Purdue with my son, I pointed to a phrase someone had tacked on the wall, and told Joe that it was one of my favorite expressions. The sign said “Eschew Obfuscation.”

Okay, I realize that a lot of people reading this are now getting ready to click over to TMZ or something that’s not quite as painful, but eschewing obfuscation isn’t complicated. In more common terms, it means the same thing as the time-honored “keep it simple, stupid.”


To a writer, it’s a humorous (yes, we’re really odd creatures) reminder to use language that promotes clarity, rather than confusion, and I hope it’s something that the Physics majors who use the lounge as an escape keep in mind. So often, graduates leave school with a tendency to use sentences that are more complex and words that are more complicated than they need to be.

Most of the time, language that’s simple and familiar is far more communicative and effective. So if you’re one of the people who writes memos like “The brewed beverage receptacle is skewed toward nonpossession of the essential contents,” try something like “Hey, we’re outta coffee” next time. My guess is that you’ll get the response you’re after.