The #Write #Word? Post 41

Word cloud via

Do you struggle to find the ‘right’ word when you’re writing? Sometimes, I do, too. Maybe, in working to improve my own work, I can help you.

Today’s words: Habitat, Heavily, Has a requirement for, Hollow tube, Honour.

Synonyms are alternative words that have the power to convey exactly what you’re trying to say.

Habitat: Roget lists the following sub-headings: place, situation, locality, and abode. Under situation are another 46 suggestions, including locale, site, ecosphere, ecosystem, biotype, topography, and ecology.

Usage for Habitat: ‘Peter was a man who loved a pint and a loose woman; his natural habitat was the Wayward Wench, a pub where he could readily obtain both.’ ‘The Arctic is the sole habitat of the polar bear, a species in serious danger of extinction due to the continuing decline in sea ice caused by humankind’s interference with the world’s atmosphere.’

Because of the specific nature of the word ‘habitat’, it’s difficult to replace it with a single synonym other than ‘ecosystem’. Perhaps the best way to replace it is by restructuring the sentence to provide a description of what is meant. Phrases like ‘polar bears thrive only in the Arctic’ could be used, for example.

Adverbs, as the word describes, are an addition to a verb. A strong verb always wins over an adverb propping up a weak one. Alternatively, a change in sentence structure can help to express the same idea in a better way.

Heavily: an adverb suggesting weight figuratively as well as actually. It provides emphasis to a given situation.

‘Paula relied heavily on Sara to curb her tendency to overspend and get herself into debt.’ We could try; ‘Sara’s advice curbed Paula’s tendency to overspend and get into debt.’ Can you think of an alternative sentence?

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.

Has a requirement for: this phrase means ‘needs’, or ‘requires’, and these two words will make your writing more attractive to the reader.

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.

Hollow tube: the nature of a tube is to be hollow, so describing a tube as hollow is a tautology. We don’t need that description, so best to use ‘tube’ as it stands.

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

Honour: a quality foreign to politicians; something alien to the mind and spirit of most government ministers; a concept without meaning to many leaders; a feature absent from the philosophy of most running Big Business.

Language learners may find this link a useful aid for pronunciation, and there’s a great group page on Facebook here.

I contribute a column to a monthly online magazine, Pandora’s Box Gazette, where I also deal with the use of words. For the most recent, please click here.

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

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