Looking for the Best Word? Tip #42

Word cloud generated via Prowritingaid.com

Here’s some help for writers who want to make their work more interesting, varied, accurate and effective by using the most appropriate words. There are also insights into some peculiarities of English for language students.

A good thesaurus will provide substitutes for the idea of a word, but not all these are true synonyms: context is vital. Check suitability by putting synonyms into a sentence to test if they make sense. This isn’t foolproof, however, so a good dictionary is also essential.

My dictionary of choice is the two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. And I prefer the 1987 edition of Roget’s Thesaurus for word selection, though my copy is showing signs of wear. I’ve installed WordWeb on my Mac for when I’m in a hurry and the appropriate word escapes me. And 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.

However, I attempt to dig the best word from my overloaded memory first: it’s good mental exercise, which I need on a regular basis! Many other books of words, which I occasionally consult when a word evades me, live on reference shelves behind me.

So, to this week’s word: Blatant

Blatant – Roget lists these headers: flagrant, well-known, vulgar, vain, showy, and insolent. Under the sub-heading ‘flagrant’ are a further 9 alternatives including glaring, stark, staring, shocking, and discreditable.

And the SOED defines ‘blatant’ as: Orig., noisy, clamorous, noticeably loud. Now usu., obtrusive, lacking in subtlety, obvious; (of bad behaviour) openly and unashamed.

Let’s look at usage for blatant:

‘In condemning terrorists whilst engaging in the weapons trade with supporters of terrorism, the Prime Minister displayed blatant hypocrisy.’

‘Terry strode confidently into the party, helped himself to food and drink, and chatted up the girls, showing blatant disregard for his lack of an invitation.’

‘In blatant disobedience of the “No swimming” sign, Emerald stripped off her clothes and plunged into the lake.’

‘Blatant’ is a word of power, suggestive of a rebellious spirit, but also a condemnatory adjective when applied to attitudes and behaviour that cause offence.

Language learners will find a great group page on Facebook.

I welcome observations and suggestions here. Please use the comments section below for your ideas and thoughts.

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