Struggle to find the ‘right’ word for your writing? Occasionally, so do I. Perhaps, in trying to improve my own work, I can help you.
Today’s words: Bacchanalia, Blend together, By means of, Barking up the wrong tree, Bastard.
Synonyms are alternative words that might say exactly what you’re trying to convey.
Bacchanalia: is a festival in honour of the Roman god of wine, Bacchus (his Greek predecessor is Dionysus, but the two are more or less equivalent). Roget gives the following headings; turmoil, feasting, sensualism, and drunkenness. Under the sub-heading ‘drunkenness’ are another 67 suggestions including insobriety, sottishness, intoxication, wooziness, swilling, binge and pub-crawl.
Usage for Bacchanalia:
‘Gordon feared his friend, Donald, would turn his stag night into a regular Bacchanalia, and the excess drink would mean he’d be reduced to a trembling idiot during the wedding ceremony.’
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.
Blend together: To blend substances, things, is to place them together. The method of such combining depends on the nature of the items. But blending is combining, so ‘together’ is always an unnecessary modifier. We can put things together. We can blend them. But if we blend them together, we’re creating a tautology; something a good writer avoids.
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.
By means of: since this phrase means ‘by’, use of the other words suggests an attempt to impress. I suggest the attempt will fail with most readers, so I’d avoid it and use the single word instead.
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.
Barking up the wrong tree:
‘If you think I’m at all interested in your son, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Now, if it was your daughter who concerned you, you might have grounds.’
This could be rewritten to exclude the cliché: ‘If you think I’m attracted to your son, you’re mistaken. Your daughter, however, is appealing.
And, my own humorous, metaphorical, and sometimes controversial definitions of some common words for your entertainment, which I’ll list under The Delusional Dictionary.
Bastard: that greedy sod who believes profit is more valuable than people; the man who stole your girlfriend; the fool who votes without considering the facts; anyone presenting misinformation as fact.
I’m intending to continue this series with a final alphabetical run and then close this chain of posts and move on to something new. There’ll have been more than a year of these word posts by then. And the series will remain available in the archive, should anyone wish to review it.
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