Notion is a deceptively precise word. What “some” is to quantity, notion is to knowledge, an immeasurable amount of an incalculable thing, a tenuous grasp of a nebulous concept. But the vagueness resides in the concept, not the word, because as imprecise as it seems, the word precisely captures the vagueness that is a notion.

What I admire most about the word is its unabashed confidence: the hero never says, “there’s nothing I can do, I have only a notion of how to diffuse this bomb.” Instead, she says, “let me try. I’m no expert, but I have a notion of how these things work.” It is infused with will, not worry, the embodiment of the old lyric, “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.” A notion may be incomplete, but it is enough.

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