The Write Word? Post 5

discombobulate
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Do you sometimes struggle to find the ‘right’ word for your writing? I know I do. Perhaps, in improving myself, I can help other writers.

Today’s words: Discombobulate, Clear as mud, Cruelly, Tricolon.

Synonyms are alternative words that might say exactly what you’re trying to convey.

Discombobulate: (early 19th C American in origin) to confuse. Synonyms include discompose, discomfort, bedevil, muddle, throw into confusion, confound.

This word is generally used in a jocular way, rather than seriously. It’s been popularised in the UK by stand-up comedian, Ken Dodd.

Usage for Discombobulate:

‘Freddie did everything he could to discombobulate Terri after she’d fooled him into believing treacle was mined in Bolivia.’

‘Poor Ted was utterly discombobulated when he walked into the ladies’ changing room by mistake and then couldn’t find the exit.’

Clichés: expressions we’ve all encountered more times than…here, I could use a cliché to illustrate what a cliché might be.

Clear as mud: an expression meaning that an explanation or description is so difficult to understand that it’s useless.

Usage:

‘The politician used such obtuse language, jargon, and so many acronyms, in his confession of wrongdoing that his apology was clear as mud!’

Perhaps better as: ‘The politician used such obtuse language, jargon, and so many acronyms, in his confession of wrongdoing that his apology was meaningless.’

Adverbs: words we all use incredibly often, lazily taking the easy route instead of diligently looking for stronger verbs.

Cruelly: ‘George, old-fashioned, ignorant, and tyrannical, believed the only way to bend his new wife to his will was to cruelly punish her each time she dared disagree.’

We could try: ‘George, old-fashioned, ignorant, and tyrannical, believed the only way to bend his new wife to his will was to beat her with his belt every time she dared disagree.’

Figure of Speech: Tricolon is a figure in which three corresponding sentence fragments are placed consecutively. It works best with rhyme, alliteration, and the ‘extender’, which adds zest to the third fragment.

‘Good, better, and an angel.’ (extender)

‘A little, a lot, a lifetime.’

‘Be positive, be brave, be you!’ (many commercial slogans follow this pattern).

I started the series on figures of speech in the earlier posts, which you can search for under ‘Looking for the Best Word?’ if this interests you. In these newer posts, I’m continuing to the end of the alphabetical list I started with. This is the penultimate example.

Language learners might find this link useful for pronunciation, 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 see the most recent, please click this link.

Your observations and suggestions are welcome in the comments section below. And, if you’ve enjoyed this post, why not use the buttons to share it with your friends? Thank you.

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