Looking for the Best Word? Tip #10

Stuart Aken

apathetic Word cloud via tagul.com

Examining similar and dissimilar words to find ways writers might make their work more varied, accessible, interesting, accurate and effective.

A good thesaurus gives substitutes for the idea of a word, but not all suggestions are true synonyms. Context is vital. Putting alternative words in the same sentence to see if they actually make sense is a way of checking their suitability. But it’s not foolproof, so a good dictionary is essential.

My dictionary chosen is the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. For word choices, I prefer the 1987 edition of Roget’s Thesaurus. It sits in easy reach by my desk. However, I try to prise the best word from my overloaded memory first: it’s good mental exercise. Other books of words, which I consult when the pertinent term evades me, reside on my reference shelf, behind me.

So, to this week’s words, which are opposites:


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