QUESTION: Is the word "prolific" easily understood?

55 replies
Friends, Warriors, countrymen, lend me your ears.

I want to use the word "prolific" for a new series I'm planning out right now. Could you take a moment and (without Googling the word) give me your impression of it's meaning? Just a sentence or two. I'll shower you with gratitude.
#easily #prolific #question #understood #word
  • Profile picture of the author Buddd
    Hi Kevin,

    I'll bet there's a picture of Steven Wagenheim attached to it.
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  • Profile picture of the author kemdev
    If by 'Steven Wagenheim' you mean 'Jesse Kemmerer', then
    yes, you'd be correct.
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  • Profile picture of the author Shannon Tani
    a lot of (but someone or something doing the "a lot of")

    Love,
    Shannon
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  • Profile picture of the author Peter Soos
    In growing abundance...not a rarity (kinda like weeds in my garden...LOL)
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  • Profile picture of the author Joel Gray
    Kevin,

    I would like to think that the majority of the member here would understand the meaning of the work prolific and depending on how it was used I think that it would mean something close to the following: proficient, professional, very good or above average...or something very similar anyway.

    Joel
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    • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
      I don't think there's a spammer on the planet who doesn't understand the meaning of that word.

      And since we're a target audience here, I'm sure we also understand it's ramifications better than most.

      KJ
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    • Profile picture of the author seasoned
      Originally Posted by Joel Gray View Post

      Kevin,

      I would like to think that the majority of the member here would understand the meaning of the work prolific and depending on how it was used I think that it would mean something close to the following: proficient, professional, very good or above average...or something very similar anyway.

      Joel
      SEE, THIS is the problem with using a word like prolific. Frankly, when I started seeing it a LOT, I got upset because prolific DOES have the same meaning as Joel stated. it ALSO means plentiful, etc.... but it is not quite that simple. MAYBE that is why you wanted to use it but, eventually, words LOSE meaning because of such tricks. That is PROBABLY why so few here gave the correct definition.

      Steve
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      • Profile picture of the author JazzOscar
        I'll admit to being the dumb guy this time.

        As someone not having english as my first language, prolific perhaps isn't among the words I use the most when writing english.

        So, my immediate feeling was that it was the word used in conjuction with treatment to avoid some disease. Thinking it a little bit through though, I found that would be "profylactic".

        My conclusion; Prolific might not be a word with an obvious meaning for many with english as their second or third language.
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        • Profile picture of the author seasoned
          Originally Posted by JazzOscar View Post

          I'll admit to being the dumb guy this time.

          As someone not having english as my first language, prolific perhaps isn't among the words I use the most when writing english.

          So, my immediate feeling was that it was the word used in conjuction with treatment to avoid some disease. Thinking it a little bit through though, I found that would be "profylactic".

          My conclusion; Prolific might not be a word with an obvious meaning for many with english as their second or third language.
          I would normally have used that, but too many figure THEY write a lot, even when they don't, and use the word prolific, probably hoping to give them prestige, and the word is no longer REALLY meaningful to ENGLISH speakers. WHEN will it stop?

          Steve
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          • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
            That picture of me next to the definition is really OLD.

            I should put up a new one someday.
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          • Profile picture of the author Richard Essi
            Hi Kevin,

            The word "prolific" brings to mind the following things:

            1. Exceptionally gifted or talented
            2. Someone or something that is CONSTANTLY increasing in value and production
            3. The ability to make something exceptional hard or complicated look incredibly easy
            4. Something that stands out and stays outside of the norm

            Those are the words that come to mind when I think of the world "prolific".

            Richard
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            • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
              Would I use the word though for example in a sales letter or in sales copy Kevin?

              It depends on the audience, the target market of course.

              If though you are worried that a good percentage of your readers or visitors will not be able to relate to this word well, then of course the obvious thing to suggest from me to you, is that you find an easier word that your readers or visitors will understand much more simply (use a thesaurus for this).

              The same goes for anyone writing sales copy, articles, whatever - try to use simple words that absolutely anyone can understand.
              Kevin,

              One thing you can do is to look up "prolific" on SAT vocabulary lists.

              If it's included, then it is not part of the average high school student's vocabulary.

              And I agree with the comment above that familiarity depends on the audience. For runners or parrot tamers, it may not be a familiar word, but just about every aspiring writer knows the word.

              Marcia Yudkin
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  • Profile picture of the author kkrueger
    I think of rabbits or hamsters multiplying (LOL) Like the prolific rabbits in our garden..we have the weeds under control, now it's just the rabbits!

    Seriously though...Prolific to me would mean being able to provide alot of material...like being a prolific writer. Or being able to develop products one right after another. Hope this helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author Simo
    Something done in volume (i.e "she is a prolific spender") or with great drive. ("i.e she is a prolific telemarketer")
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  • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
    Kevin,
    Are you running around Licking Hamster Profiles Again!!!

    James
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  • Profile picture of the author Lance K
    Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

    Friends, Warriors, countrymen, lend me your ears.

    I want to use the word "prolific" for a new series I'm planning out right now. Could you take a moment and (without Googling the word) give me your impression of it's meaning? Just a sentence or two. I'll shower you with gratitude.
    Kevin, you're pretty kick ass when it comes to naming products so I'll try to convey my question in a manner that doesn't draw the rath of the hamsters...

    Is it being "easily understood" what you're really going for? Wouldn't it be better if it moved people? Only curious.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
      Originally Posted by Lance K View Post


      Is it being "easily understood" what you're really going for? Wouldn't it be better if it moved people? Only curious.
      LOL, you know me too well. I love using words that are not always in normal people's vocabulary (as some of my sales letters will attest) just because they sound so good to me.

      Originally Posted by MarkAndrews IMCopywriting


      The same goes for anyone writing sales copy, articles, whatever - try to use simple words that absolutely anyone can understand.

      Do not use complicated words or expressions that might not be recognised for what they are straightaway.
      Actually, I like to use the occasional complicated word even in sales letters. Sure, they may not be understood by all, but the context is.
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    • Profile picture of the author Palo Coyote
      Prolific is a wonderful word and second only to concomitant!

      (I love to use concomitant, it means, "with" only it's like twice as long as puny little 'with' it's a really a big word.)

      I recently advised a client to put "huge" in front of the word "quantum", that's redundant (repititous) of course, but very few people understand that quantum can mean huge or great. Most people think it's the name of a StarShip, it probably is ("Scotty, Off the port bow, it's the StarShip Quantum Flux, she's a mighty ship Cap'n.)

      Then there's plethora and paucity (plethora of advice and a paucity of assistance) plethora is kind of like Prolific (means a lot of something) and paucity is like a pauper or not much stuff. (Latin, roots, who can live with out them...oh, everyone, well anyway.)

      Kevin Riley is your target market made up of College Professors in the Liberal Arts Division, "History of English Language" section?

      For "Nascar Dads" Prolific might best be summed up as, "lots of stuff." As in, "He has a prolific collection of exhaust emission control devices at his recycle facility." OR, "That guy has a whole lot of used mufflers at his junk yard. Ya' got to get ya' some."

      I love words like Prolific...I also love words like Rapscallion...Kevin you just might be a rapscallion for asking this question.

      all my best,
      Palo (means 'stick' in Spanish or Latin, the mother tongue)
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  • Profile picture of the author InternetM39482
    Something on the lines of plentiful, in volume...

    Yes, it's easily understandable for me.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ken Strong
      It's not really a word that rolls off the tongue that easily or smoothly... and I think that's a more important consideration than whether people know what it means or not.

      Your should be able to read your sales page out loud and have it sound like a casual conversation you're having with the guy on the next bar stool (or in your case, the guy on the next bar stool talking down to you on the floor ). Even though I think most people know what "prolific" means, I would hesitate to use it as a product or series name.
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      • Profile picture of the author Lance K
        Originally Posted by KenStrong View Post

        It's not really a word that rolls off the tongue that easily or smoothly... and I think that's a more important consideration than whether people know what it means or not.

        Your should be able to read your sales page out loud and have it sound like a casual conversation you're having with the guy on the next bar stool (or in your case, the guy on the next bar stool talking down to you on the floor ). Even though I think most people know what "prolific" means, I would hesitate to use it as a product or series name.
        Ken,

        You communicated what I was thinking much clearer than I did. That silly string hairdo must make you more articulate.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason_V
    When I think of prolific, I think of someone or something that is ahead of its time. Groundbreaking. Enlightened. Philosophical. These are some of the words I associate with prolific.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      I'd know what you mean, Kevin. When a person is prolific he produces a great quantity of whatever it is he produces.

      It's usually a positive comment though if the person is a prolific farter it might lose something in the translation.

      kay
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  • Profile picture of the author Diana Lane
    When my kids were babies, I used to call them 'Prolific producers of pongy Pampers' when I was changing them (usually while gasping for breath at the same time ). I think they all knew what it meant before they were two. I thought most people did.
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    Originally Posted by Kevin Riley View Post

    I want to use the word "prolific" for a new series
    Will the next series be prochoicic? You know, just to be fair?

    Sorry, I'll leave now.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jag82
    When I hear "prolific", I think of Samuel Eto.
    For those who watch soccer (Spanish soccer), he is always
    one of the top goal scorers every season.

    Therefore, "prolific" means accomplishing plenty of something.
    Someone who churns out something at great speed/efficiency.

    In terms of nouns, I think of prolific writer...prolific goal scorer...prolific
    product creator...and so on...

    Jag
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  • Profile picture of the author lotsofsnow
    no clue what it means.
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  • Profile picture of the author BillyBee
    Every time I hear the word "prolific" I think of Joyce Carol Oates or the late John Updike. Both of them were machines . . . and they both wrote some great stuff.

    However, I'd be very hesitant to use that word to name a product or as part of a big headline.

    Don't know what market you're aiming for, but I'd be willing to bet that far less than half the American public could adequately define that word if stopped on the street.
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  • Profile picture of the author Doiron
    I think most people here know what it means. But does the great unwashed? I suspect it's a word commonly misunderstood by the average person.

    So I guess it boils down to the target audience. Personally, in a business context, I don't think you can go wrong by underestimating your readers.

    When in doubt, leave it out.
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  • Profile picture of the author giliav
    Being a non-native English speaker I admit I do know the meaning of the word yet if I hear that as a product/series name I would probably be clueless as to what it's about.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mike Hill
    Wait.. let me ask my 12 year old son because if he doesn't understand it then I wouldn't use it, unless it was to a professional crowd.

    Mike Hill
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  • Profile picture of the author TimGross
    [DELETED]
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
      Ooops! I seem to have used up my daily quota on the "Thanks" button. I shall thank the rest tomorrow, if the gods restore my button.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sagar Mehta
    Hello Kevin,

    I've seen it used with the word 'writer' usually.

    Say, "So&So is a prolific writer who has been writing..."

    To me, it has always meant something positive and someone who's an 'expert' of sorts.

    Regards,
    Sagar
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    • Profile picture of the author Hasan Barbary
      Whenever Kevin writes one of his thought-provoking posts, the responses are almost always prolific. Yes, the word is easily understood (by me, and most writer-types). There have been several good comments already about your intended audience, so I won't rehash those. I think you should stick to it, mostly because, imho, there aren't many good synonyms. 'Prolific' to me, suggests abundance of a specific kind ~ creative abundance, or procreative abundance. The word is best applied to making babies or making works of art, or even making IM products. What would you say instead: 'fertile'? 'fecund'?? 'fruitful'??? At least profilic keeps your copy family-friendly!
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  • Profile picture of the author Kirahster
    I don't think that I knew what they word meant until a year ago when a friend of mine said "Irish people are very prolific" I asked her what she meant and she said that she meant Irish people have lots of babies.

    Then on the forum I often hear Steven Wagenheim described as prolific.

    From this I think that prolific means fruitful. Somebody that produces a lot of something with ease. It comes naturally to them and a huge effort would have to be made to stop the flow of what they are producing.
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  • Profile picture of the author I.M.Retired
    Being in favor of, or a supporter of 'Lifics.'

    Groan

    <repents quickly>

    Okay - first impression is 'lots of' or abundance.
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  • Profile picture of the author Doug
    I had an uncle who many years ago asked me if I was still dating one particular lady, my answer was 'no' and he responded..."you are rather prolific." He caught me off-guard with that one, speechless actually. Funny how some comments, out of the blue, can really make a guy think.

    My twist on the definition of prolific is any activity that produces a desirable return.
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  • Profile picture of the author John M Kane
    A high paid Professional in the L.I.F.I.C. sports league? Luge Is Fun In Candy

    Oft confused with a Unionized "Lift It" laborer usually found hauling shingles up a ladder onto a roof.

    Or a Profusely Productive Purveyor of PLR Products

    Pro Lift Fit= a Professional Bra fitter with hiccups
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  • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
    Abundance; able to produce a lot; doing something with high frequency....

    And lastly, it means I drink a lot of coffee.
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    • Profile picture of the author Ross Bowring
      Kevin, when I hear "prolific" I think of a prolific writer... or inventor. Someone who is very productive.

      That said, I do think it's one of those 10-cent words. Not because it's long or hifalutin, but because in everyday spoken language, people rarely use it.
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      • Profile picture of the author kenboss
        The Poor Man's Dictionary of Synonyms says Prolific = Kevin Riley.

        Hmm. Wonder who wrote that book? Let me check.

        Oh.

        Apparently it was you. :rolleyes:


        Ken
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        • Profile picture of the author mbrown
          Originally Posted by kenboss View Post

          The Poor Man's Dictionary of Synonyms says Prolific = Kevin Riley.

          Hmm. Wonder who wrote that book? Let me check.

          Oh.

          Apparently it was you. :rolleyes:


          Ken

          Ken.... Kevin told you post that didn't he? LOL
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  • Profile picture of the author Glenn Leader
    I can see what you're getting at here Kevin, but to me prolific isn't esoteric enough

    IMHO, it means doing in abundance... 'Kevin is a prolific product developer.'

    HTH

    Glenn
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  • Profile picture of the author aquablue
    I agree with most of the above...prolific refers to the abundant creation of something (whether that something is always specifically good, I'm not sure.) Good descriptive word for your product creation.

    Although the information contained in this post is repetitive, I really wanted to see War Room Member under my name ...
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    • Profile picture of the author Peter Bestel
      Prolific - highly productive, producer of large quantities etc

      I confess to initially being a little bemused that you should ask such a question, I mean, I didn't appreciate that the word 'prolific' was misunderstood. From some of the replies I guess I was wrong and I can now see the value of your question.

      Mmm, food for thought.

      Peter
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    • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
      Originally Posted by Kevin-VirtualProfitCenter View Post

      I fell down one time and broke my prolific.
      Well, that's better than getting it stuck to a frozen lightpole.

      Don't ask...

      KJ
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Producing or reproducing abundantly.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kevin Riley
      Thank you one and all. Unfortunately, it seems my quota of "Thanks" is still used up and I can't thank you individually, but I shall when I can. It's been an interesting experiment and I see others learning from it - success!
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