Struggling to find the ‘right’ word for your writing? You’re not alone. Maybe, in trying to improve my own work, I can help other writers.
Today’s words: Tranquil/Turbulent, Transpire, Take action to, Tenant, Triskaidekaphobia.
Antonyms: words that express the opposite of other words can be hard to find, because thesauruses usually give no examples. When lost for such opposites, if I can’t dig a suitable word from my grey matter, I reach for ‘The New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms’ published 1986, which generally solves my dilemma.
Tranquil: Possible synonyms include reposeful, peaceful, impassive, inexcitable, and pleasurable.
Turbulent: Alternatives include disorderly, violent, and excitable.
Usage for Tranquil/Turbulent:
‘By the lake, Amber stretched delicate toes into the tranquil cool waters and contemplated the ripples distorting the mirrored mountains on the far shore. But her mind and heart dwelt on the fate of her lover, Georgiy, fighting his way toward her home over turbulent, storm-torn waves on an ocean grown wild under climate change.’
Words often misused: because it’s stolen terms from many languages, English often uses words that appear to mean something similar. However, as wordsmiths, we owe it to our readers to get it right, don’t you we?
Transpire: Often used to mean, ‘happen’ or ‘occur’, it actually means to ‘emit through the surface of leaves or skin’. When used figuratively, it’s best employed for when a fact seeps out, especially something secret.
‘Over a politically long week, it transpired that the Government had no plan whatever and Ministers were merely bumbling along randomly, hoping the problem would eventually solve itself.’
Plain-Language Alternatives for Wordy Phrases: some writers, especially those new to the craft, use more words than necessary. We can often substitute a single word for a phrase.
Take action to: What does this phrase mean? To do, to act. As in, ‘Donald was determined to take action to stop unwanted visitors crossing his land.’ This could be written without the offending phrase; ‘Donald was determined to stop unwanted visitors crossing his land.’ Simpler, and it says it all.
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.
Tenant: an individual caught in the poverty trap and unable to buy a home; a wage slave exploited by a landowner for excess gain; a person needing a roof over his/her head and obliged to pay far more than it’s worth.
And, for no better reason than today’s Friday 13th – Oooooh-er! – I thought I’d mention two words involved with that particular date. Paraskevidekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday 13th, a relatively common fear in many Christian cultures. Like most superstitions, the fear of 13 (Triskaidekaphobia) stems from a combination of ignorance and rumour. 13 was the number of people supposedly gathered at Christ’s last supper, but this accounts only for the males present (the Bible, a paternalistic document written by men from a misogynist culture, considers women inferior). The number 13 in this context excludes any women and serving people who would’ve been present at the event. The fear of the Friday element crept into the superstition later, when so-called scholars determined that the supper had taken place on a Thursday and led to Christ’s arrest and death on the following Friday.
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