Looking for the Best Word? Tip #69

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Help for writers and language learners; these posts look at different aspects of the world of words to stimulate curiosity and enhance creativity.

My apologies: This post should have appeared yesterday. No real excuse, except I took a rather longer walk than usual and the day was over before I realised it!

This week’s words: Joyful, Polysyndeton, Annual anniversary, Count your blessings, and Sukha.

Joyful: – Roget’s thesaurus lists only two headers for this adjective: happy and merry. Under the sub-heading ‘merry’ are a further 59 alternatives including joyous, happy as a sandboy, ebullient, sparkling, amusing, jovial, laughing, and tickled pink.

Let’s look at usage for Joyful:

‘Christmas, it seems, can even make an old curmudgeon like Scrooge feel joyful.’

‘In this season of goodwill and peace to all, the very air is joyful.’

I leave it to your judgment, which of the many synonyms could be used instead of ‘joyful’ here, and simply wish you all the very best wishes for the season!

Figure of speech:

Polysyndeton: is a figure in which a succession of conjunctions is used when they could be excluded without loosing the sense of the sentence.

‘Wearing her new red shoes, Polly ran and danced and jumped and skipped and waltzed until she collapsed with exhaustion.’

‘If I leave you to close the office after the party, can I be sure you won’t forget to set the alarm, or turn off the lights, or ensure the safe is locked, or check no one is sleeping it off in the loos, or lock the front door?’


Redundancies are words serving 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: ‘Annual anniversary’.

An anniversary is an annual celebration. And something that occurs annually is an event repeated each year. So, we don’t need ‘annual’ here. It’s superfluous and will make the writer appear ignorant. ‘Anniversary’ will say it all.

Cliché; a cliché is a stereotyped or hackneyed expression; a phrase, opinion or other element of language that’s been so overused it no longer holds any power. However, clichés usually come into being as the result of their original effective ability to describe a situation or quality. Their use should be sparing and appropriate. In dialogue, they’re acceptable, providing the speaking character would use such expressions.

Count your blessings: an expression meaning to be grateful for the good things in your life.

‘Ethel dressed, turned to Roger, who remained stunned and exhausted, and said, “You should count your blessings it was only me and not that wanton hussy, Sheila.”, as she sauntered from his room.’

It’s fine to use a cliché in dialogue. However, the bold young woman might’ve said, instead, ‘You’re lucky it was only me and not that wanton hussy, Sheila.’

Untranslatable words: The world’s languages contain numerous words for emotions (and other things) for which English has no equivalent. I suspect most people know ‘schadenfreude’, from German, and ‘frisson’, from French, but there are many more, and I’ll introduce some here from time to time.

Sukha (Sanskrit) – genuine and lasting happiness that’s independent of circumstances.

Language learners might find this link useful for pronunciation queries, and you’ll reach a great group page on Facebook if you click this link.

I contribute a monthly column to an online magazine, Pandora’s Box Gazette where I also deal with the use of words. To take a look, click this link.

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

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