Looking for the Best Word? Tip #36

Stuart Aken

unlikely Word cloud via Prowritingaid.com

Help for writers wishing to make their work more interesting, varied, accurate and effective by using the best words, and providing language learners with insights into some oddities of the English language.

A good thesaurus gives alternatives for the idea of a word, but not all are true synonyms: context is vital. One way to check suitability is to place synonyms into the sentence to test if they make sense. But it’s not foolproof, so a good dictionary is essential.

My dictionary of choice is the two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. And I use the 1987 edition of Roget’s Thesaurus for word selection. I’ve installed WordWeb on my Mac for times when I’m in a hurry and the apposite word evades me. Also, I’ve downloaded the Kindle edition of Kathy Steinemann’s ‘The Writer’s Lexicon’ to consult whilst editing my fiction, so I can inject more variety…

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