Struggle to find the ‘right’ word when writing? Sometimes, so do I. In trying to improve, maybe I can help other writers.
Today’s words: Laborious/Easy, Look ahead to the future, Last hurrah, Leader.
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 deteriorating grey matter, I reach for ‘The New Nuttall Dictionary of English Synonyms and Antonyms’ published 1986, which generally solves my dilemma.
Laborious gathers the following sub-headers in Roget: persevering, industrious, laborious, fatiguing, and difficult. Under sub-heading ‘laborious’ are listed another 34 alternatives including crushing, unremitting, burdensome, arduous, laboured and difficult.
Easy comes with these sub-headings: sloping, comfortable, intelligible, elegant, easy, lax, lenient, inexcitable, well-bred, friendly, sociable, and amiable. There are also 13 phrases beginning with ‘easy’ listed. Under the sub-header of ‘easy’ are a further 43 substitutes including facile, simple, not difficult, feasible, open to all, and intelligible.
That these two words can be used as opposites of each other is clear from their listed alternatives, so I won’t bore you with examples of usage. Hopefully, as a writer, you’ll find the hint here a spur to using other words in place of the easy option, but nothing too laborious, please.
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.
Look ahead to the future:
We can only look forward, or ahead, to the future, since it lies before us. We’re unable to look sideways, down, or back at the future, due to that location. So, ‘look ahead’ is fine on its own, and so is ‘look to the future’.
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 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.
Last hurrah: this is a phrase meaning a final effort, performance, or act, often at the end of a long career or series of difficult actions.
‘Theresa May’s virtually suicidal statement regarding Brexit could be considered her last hurrah in a battle she was never destined to win.’ (sorry for the political slant, but it had to be said!) We could write this in a different way: ‘Theresa May’s obstinate refusal to accept the reality of the complexities of the Brexit situation may well become her last action as UK Prime Minister.’ We don’t have to resort to the cliché.
And, my own humorous, metaphorical, and often irreverent, thought-provoking, and controversial definitions of some common words for your entertainment, which I list under The Delusional Dictionary.
Leader: any of a number of individuals of a sociopathic nature who have tricked, cheated or fooled their way into a position of power; someone with more confidence than ability; a person with an overblown sense of their opinions and ideas; an individual incapable of admitting to personal failings.
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.
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