Books, writing, reading and words. I love them; do you?

The #Write #Word? Post 29

Vacillate

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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: Vacillate, Vacillate back and forth, Viable/Feasible, Vellichor, Virgin.

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

Vacillate: Roget gives us the following headers: change, vary, be uncertain, be irresolute, be capricious. And, under ‘be irresolute’ there are a further 69 suggestions, including shirk, shilly-shally, waver, blow hot and cold, put off a decision, seesaw, compromise and submit.

Usage for Vacillate:

‘Appointed as manager of the works, Don quickly showed his inability to make a decision; time and again, he would vacillate when faced with difficult options.’

‘Teresa made no secret of her attraction to Michael, but when he asked her to spend the night with him, she vacillated, citing her fears for her reputation and her uncertainty about his real feelings and intentions for her.’

In the first sentence, we could use ‘shirk’, ‘shilly-shally’, ‘waver’, ‘blow hot and cold’, and ‘seesaw’ in place of ‘vacillate’.

In the second sentence, ‘shilly-shallied’, ‘wavered’, ‘blew hot and cold’, and ‘seesawed’ would be suitable synonyms.

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.

Vacillate back and forth:
Having looked at ‘vacillate’ under synonyms, we have a sense of its meaning. I think most will agree that ‘back and forth’ is an unnecessary appendage here, so should be excluded.

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?

Viable/Feasible: Something that’s ‘viable’ is capable of independent life. If something is ‘feasible’ it means it’s capable of being done or accomplished.

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. Many of these suggestions come from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

Vellichor: The strange wistfulness of used bookshops.

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.

Virgin: an innocent; anyone, of any gender, asserting their status as inexperienced; an individual too scared to convert desire into action; any person of sexual experience declaring their innocence for dubious purposes.

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.

Your observations and suggestions are welcome in the comments section below. And, if you’ve enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to share it with your friends. Thank you.

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