If you find it hard to discover the ‘right’ word when writing, this might help you.
Today’s words: Ordinary/Unusual, Obediently, Orenda, Officer,
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 andAntonyms’ published 1986, which generally solves my dilemma.
Ordinary/Unusual: two words that describe opposing qualities.
Ordinary: Roget lists these sub-headings; median, general, typical, heraldry, usual, trivial, not bad, imperfect, middling, and unastonishing. Under ‘usual’ are another 61 suggestions including familiar, unoriginal, trite, well-worn, hackneyed, banal, commonplace, stereotyped, and widespread.
Usage for Ordinary:
‘David, an ordinary young man with few, if any, distinguishing features or characteristics, was rarely noticed by the women he so ardently desired.’
Unusual: Roget provides the following sub-headings; unusual, infrequent, unexpected, and wonderful. Under the sub-heading ‘unusual’ are 70 further alternatives including unfamiliar, extraordinary, singular, unique, special, rare, strange, bizarre, and fantastic.
Usage for Unusual:
‘Caroline, vivacious, startling, unusual and exotic, could never avoid attention from men of all types when she arrived in any room.’
Adverbs: words used to strengthen a weak verb, added to a verb in order to give it more power. Often, the best way to avoid their use is to employ a strong verb in their place.
Obediently: We all know that to be obedient is to do as you’re told, to conform, to comply.
‘The trouble with you Les is you’re way too willing to do anything and everything obediently, regardless of who’s instructing you.’ We can say the same thing more effectively with a stronger verb; ‘Your trouble, Les, is your subservience regardless of who gives the orders.’
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 introduce some here from time to time.
Orenda: (Huron) expresses the power of the human will to change the world in the face of forces, such as fate, perceived as powerful.
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.
Officer: an upper-class fool promoted beyond his/her capability; a person with undeserved power over others; a clown parading as a leader; any individual, given a uniform and badge of office, who then becomes a tyrant.
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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