The #Write #Word? Post 25

Word cloud via

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

Today’s words:  Quash, Refute, Quiet as a dormouse, Rückkehrunruhe, Reporter.

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

Quash: Roget lists three sub-headings; suppress, abrogate, and acquit. Abrogate and acquit both have fairly specific legal meanings and can be useful when dealing with such issues. But here I’ll deal with more fluid meaning of ‘supress’. The thesaurus lists another 47 synonyms including quench, quell, squelch, squash, revoke, stifle, repress, and scupper.

Usage for Quash:

‘Teresa’s avowed ambition was to prevent Jeremy progressing further in his attempts to make life better for everyone. Her method included a prolonged programme of misinformation intended to quash the growing idea that his approach was infinitely superior to hers.’

‘Boris was one of those men incapable of keeping it in his pants. His wife decided the only way to quash his constant philandering was to spread the word that he was infected with a very unpleasant condition that could seriously compromise his victims.’

In these sentences, we could replace ‘quash’ with ‘quell’, ‘squash’, ‘stifle’ and ‘scupper’.

Words often misused: because it has stolen terms from many languages, English 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?

Refute: a strong verb that means ‘to demonstrate as false, to disprove,’. It’s a word that’s been damaged by careless confusion with ‘rebut’, which is a strong denial, ‘reply’ and ‘response’, which provide no clue about the falsity of the statement, and ‘deny’, which is no more than a contrary assertion, failing to demonstrate the falsity of the assertion. Please use ‘refute’ only when providing evidence that the statement being challenged is false.

Cliché: a stereotyped or hackneyed expression; a phrase, opinion or other element of language that’s so overused it no longer holds power. However, clichés come into being as the result of their original and effective ability to describe a situation or quality in apposite terms. Their use should be sparing: in dialogue, they’re fine, providing the speaker would use them. They are words or expressions we’ve all encountered more times than…Here, I could use a cliché to illustrate what a cliché might be.

Quiet as a dormouse: not a phrase I’ve seen much, I confess. But a simple enough expression meaning someone is so quiet that they make insufficient noise for anyone to actually hear them. Much better to use a strong verb to convey this impression.

‘Mildred, who’d been brought up by a domineering and controlling father, was quiet as a dormouse.’ Maybe try; ‘Mildred, raised by a domineering and controlling father, kept to her habit of silence whenever any contentious point came up.’

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.

Rückkehrunruhe: That feeling experienced when returning home after an immersive trip only to discover it fading rapidly from your awareness.

And, my own, sometimes humorous, sometimes metaphorical, sometimes controversial, definitions of some common words for your entertainment, which I’ll list under The Delusional Dictionary.

Reporter: any individual professionally concerned with spreading dogma and propaganda as truth, providing the originator is willing to pay enough; someone employed as a smokescreen to confuse the public by pretending to know the facts; a person willing to perpetuate urban myths, religious legend, and political promises regardless of their honesty.

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

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