Do you sometimes struggle to find the ‘right’ word for your writing? I do. Perhaps, in improving myself, I can help other writers.
Today’s words: Pig-headed/Amenable, Incredible to believe, In the event of, Weltschmerz
Antonyms: words that express the opposite of other words. They can be hard to find, and thesauruses usually don’t give examples. When lost for such opposites, I grab ‘The New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms’ published 1986, which generally solves my dilemma. Other such books are available.
Pig-headed: among the synonyms are; obstinate, stubborn, mulish, rigid, intransigent, unbending, ultraconservative, set in one’s ways.
Amenable: Some of the synonyms for this are; willing, obedient, acquiescent, compliant, favourable, predisposed, genial, gracious, cordial, dependable.
Usage for Pig-headed:
‘There was something intrinsically difficult about Donald. Despite all the evidence, he remained pig-headed in his opposition to the facts about global climate change. Too stubborn and set in his ways to consider the rational arguments of well-informed scientists.’
Usage for Amenable:
‘In common with all real scientists, Brian was amenable to change. If the evidence for any phenomenon altered, he was willing to modify his ideas in line with those changes.’
Redundancies: words serving no purpose. In speech, they’re spacers, giving the speaker time to think. But in writing they slow the reader’s progress.
Incredible to believe: ‘Incredible’ means unbelievable, so the use of ‘to believe’ in this phrase is unnecessary. Use ‘incredible’ on its own.
Plain-Language Alternatives for Wordy Phrases: some writers, especially those new to the craft, tend to use more words than necessary. We can often substitute a single word for a phrase.
In the event of: this wordy phrase means something really simple: if. So, rather than writing, ‘In the event of a fire, please leave the building.’ We should write, ‘If there’s a fire, please leave the building.’ Some waggish pedants might suggest that this could encourage people to leave the building even if the fire was burning outside. But the same could be said for either way we express this.
Untranslatable emotions: The world’s languages contain numerous words for emotions (and other things) for which English has no equivalent. Most people know ‘schadenfreude’, from German, and ‘frisson’, from French, but there are more, and I’ll introduce some here from time to time.
Weltschmerz (German): The feeling of depression you get when you see the world as it really is and realise it can never attain the ideal picture you carry of it in your head.
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