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Belittle: Thomas Jefferson First Used This Word

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&raquo Download Audio(mp3) By Voice of America 2007-9-22 Now, the VOA Special English program, Words an

» download audio(mp3)
by voice of america
2007-9-22

now, the voa special english program, words and their stories.

today's word is belittle. it was first used by thomas jefferson, the third president of the united states.

(music)

many years ago, a french naturalist, the count de buffon, wrote some books about natural history. the books were a great success even though some critics did not like them. some critics said, "count buffon is more of a poet than a scientist."

thomas jefferson did not like what the count had said about the natural wonders of the new world. it seemed to jefferson that the count had gone out of his way to speak of natural wonders in america as if they were unimportant.

this troubled thomas jefferson. he, too, was a naturalist, as well as a farmer, inventor, historian, writer and politician. he had seen the natural wonders of europe. to him, they were no more important than those of the new world.

in seventeen eighty-eight, thomas jefferson wrote about his home state, virginia. while writing, he thought of its natural beauty and then of the words of count de buffon. at that moment, jefferson created a new word – belittle. he said, "the count de buffon believes that nature belittles her productions on this side of the atlantic."

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