Looking for the Best Word? Tip #43

Word cloud created via Prowritingaid.com

Some changes from today. Still offering help for writers and language learners, but adding some variety to the topics covered. This series of posts will remain a resource for word lovers but will expand its scope.

So, to this week’s words: Ambiguous 

Ambiguous – Roget lists these headers: unconformable, double, countervailing, uncertain, semantic, puzzling, equivocal, false, and unclear. Under the sub-heading ‘equivocal’ are a further 18 alternatives including ambivalent, double, two-edged, prevaricating, vague, evasive, and anagrammatic.

Let’s look at usage for ambiguous:

‘We wondered whether the wording of the statement was accidentally ambiguous or simply a way of obscuring the speaker’s true meaning.’

‘Joe thought Janet’s dress sent an ambiguous message; the short length inviting his attention but the high neckline suggesting a wish to be concealed.’

‘Janet considered Joe’s concentration on her legs ambiguous; was he admiring her shapely pins or was lust uppermost?’

Books of words
Books of words I have on my shelf, and sometimes use!


Redundancies are words that serve no semantic purpose. In speech, they act as spacers, giving the speaker time to think. But in writing, except when representing natural conversation, they impede the reader’s progress.

This week’s example: ‘actually’

‘Actually, I don’t need to use “actually” to express the meaning of this sentence.’

‘Jason actually walked all the way home.’

‘Jennifer was actually sick of being treated like a fool.’

Figure of speech:

Anadiplosis; beginning a sentence or clause with the last, or any other significant, word from the preceding sentence or clause.

‘Off you go to school. School is where you will learn most.’

‘Rose slipped the gown over her skin, skin so soft and pale.’

Language learners will find a great group page on Facebook.


The Writer’s Lexicon.  Wordweb software.  Oxford Dictionaries.

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

2 thoughts on “Looking for the Best Word? Tip #43

    1. It’s a cause of deep sadness to me that the OED, our trusted protector of the language, caved in to common usage and allowed the use of ‘literally’ to be also defined as ‘virtually. I consider it a poor decision. And now, of course, we have no word that only expresses ‘literally’.


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