Word + Quiz: callow

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Word + Quiz: callow

: young and inexperienced

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The word callow has appeared in 28 articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Aug. 1 in “‘Piranhas’ Review: Junior Mafia” by Glenn Kenny:

Nicola (Francesco Di Napoli) is a 15-year-old who’s cheerful, aimless and hard up in his small corner of Naples. After getting turned away at a sleazy albeit exclusive nightclub, and observing squabbles between the gang leaders who battle over rights to sit in the local greasy spoon, he makes overtures to a former crime big shot. His pitch is to assemble his own gang to sell drugs, extort from local businesses, and gain money and status.

“I’ll give you what you need,” one minor capo confined to house arrest says, “but don’t screw up.” Mmm-hmm. “Piranhas” has interesting detail about how the new-style gangsters operate. But despite Di Napoli’s high cheekbones and natural appeal, Nicola isn’t much of a character, toggling between baby-faced innocence and callow ruthlessness, but not much else. When the camera follows him around, looking over his shoulder, it doesn’t add realism to the story; it adds flab.

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