What is the difference between ‘happy’ and ‘jaunty’? (M. Ganesh, Mysore)
In everyday contexts, ‘happy’ is the more frequently used word. When you say that you are ‘happy’ what you are suggesting is that you are content. Everyone feels happy sometime or the other, and they show their happiness in different ways. Some people shout and scream with joy when they achieve something; while others, simply break down and cry. Federer, for example, used to cry whenever he won a Grand Slam tournament. This was his way of showing happiness. But not everyone is like Federer — they do not wear their heart on their sleeve. There are people who do not show their happiness through their behaviour. They may remain content within, and choose not to display their feelings to the outside world. So, you may or may not know when a person is truly happy.
The happy fans were jumping up and down even before the final whistle was blown.
The broad smile on her face suggested that Uma was happy to see Ravi.
‘Jaunty’, on the other hand, has a slightly different meaning than ‘happy’. The word can be used with people and things. For example, one can refer to one’s cap as being ‘jaunty’. When you refer to someone as being ‘jaunty’, what you are suggesting is that he is very cheerful or upbeat most of the time. This cheerfulness is there for everyone to see — it may be reflected in the way the person walks or in the stylish manner he dresses. The word comes from the French ‘janty’ meaning ‘elegant, stylish’. In addition to his cheerfulness, a jaunty individual is also someone who is very confident about himself. He is a happy individual and he wants the world to know it. Unlike ‘happiness’, ‘jauntiness’ cannot be hidden; it is there for everyone to see.
Harish walked into the room wearing a jaunty grin on his face.
My favourite music director has composed a jaunty tune.
The expression comes from a story in the Bible. The word ‘beard’ in the expression ‘beard a lion in its den’ is being used as a verb and not a noun — therefore, it has nothing to do with the hair that grows on an individual’s face. When used as a verb, ‘beard’ means to ‘confront’ or ‘challenge’. Therefore, when you ‘beard a lion in its den’, what is it that you are doing? You are challenging or taking on someone who is very strong/powerful. You are taking the risk of challenging this individual, not in some neutral territory, but on his turf — his familiar surroundings. You are taking the battle or fight to him. Nowadays, the expression is mostly used to mean that you will be speaking your mind and saying unpleasant things to the individual — things that he does not wish to hear.
My boss hadn’t responded to the ten emails I’d sent regarding the new rules he’s implemented. So yesterday, I walked into his office and bearded the lion in its den.
If the MLA refuses to do something about our problem, then we’ll have to beard the lion in his den.
Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.