Ok, has this ever happened to you: you are talking with someone and a you use a word and then stop and think or say, "wait a second, is that even a word?" and then you have to go look it up to 1-see if it's even a word and 2-see if you used it right?
Has anyone besides me ever done that?
Being raised by two English professor-type people (one working English professor: my dad, and one English professor not in diploma but in essence: my mother, who didn't graduate because she had me and my seven siblings instead, but who is every bit as sharp as my dad), I was surrounded by words not used by some families: the people I lived with my first 20 years love words.
So sometimes these long-buried words come out and usually I use them right, but sometimes not. So imagine my chagrin when I am talking to my incredibly intelligent English major sister (one of them, anyway: I have three) and hear myself saying about something, "it became the impetus for my making the change" (I can't even remember what I was talking about.) Wait a second. Is 'impetus' even a word? and how is spelled? impitus? empetus? amputis? I ask my sister and she didn't say much--so I thought it probably wasn't, but after the conversation, I looked it up. Lo and behold: "Impetus: n. the force that sets a body in motion."
Hoorah! Aren't words great?