The #Write #Word? Post 16

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Sometimes struggle to find the ‘right’ word for your writing? I do. Maybe, in trying to improve my own work, I can help other writers.

Today’s words: Imitation, Illustrated drawing, Intensely, Inflammable/Flammable, Idiot.

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

Imitation: Good old Roget’s Thesaurus lists the following subheadings as synonyms; imitation, copy, substituted, false, sham, spurious, representation, and bad taste. Given that most people understand ‘copy’, I thought I’d look at ‘sham’ for this word. Among the 55 listed synonyms for that are make-believe, whited sepulchre, paper tiger, dummy, mockery, forgery, fake, and masquerade.

Usage for Imitation:

‘When confronted with the facts, Donald explained his original statement had been an imitation of reality. What he meant, of course, was that it had been a lie.’

‘In these days of so-called fake news, a euphemism for lies, it seems many reporters and commentators are content to present their stories in imitation of the truth, making their reports sham narratives.’

In these sentences, we could use ‘copy’ instead of ‘imitation’. Both express the idea that false information is now commonly presented as fact; a sad reflection on our modern world.

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.

Illustrated drawing:

An illustration may be in many forms; sketch, painting, photograph, drawing, cartoon, etc., but a drawing is a form of illustration, no matter what its purpose. So we don’t need ‘illustrated’ to describe a drawing; it can stand alone.

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

Intensely: an adverb meaning with concentrated effort or attention, in a very high degree, very strongly, greatly. It’s interesting that even the SOED has reverted to adverbs to describe the meaning of this adverb!

‘Ethel was intensely interested in the history of ceramics and spent hours poring over illustrated tomes and instruction manuals.’ We could use ‘fascinated by’, ‘consumed by’, ‘obsessed with’, or even ‘fanatical about’ in place of ‘intensely interested in’. These are alternatives that might add colour to your text.

Words often misused: English, because of its inheritance of words stolen from many languages, often uses words that superficially appear to mean something similar. However, as wordsmiths, we owe it to our readers to get it right, don’t you think?

Inflammable/Flammable: An odd and potentially dangerous confusion is caused here because the prefix ‘in’ can suggest ‘not’ as in ‘incapable’. However, here it means ‘into’, so the two words mean the same. Mistaking ‘inflammable’ for ‘not flammable’ could easily be dangerous, so this irregularity needs to be well understood. If something is inflammable, it will readily catch fire.

And, my own, hopefully humorous, definition of some common words for your entertainment, which I’ll list under The Delusional Dictionary.

Idiot: an individual capable of holding diametrically opposing beliefs, anyone who thinks climate change is a hoax, a person who accepts everything written in a newspaper as truth, someone who believes the moon landings were all false.

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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