In your writing, do you sometimes have problems discovering the ‘right’ word? I do. In trying to improve my own work, maybe I can help you. This is the penultimate post in this series. A final one will follow next week as a conclusion, indexing all the previous words I’ve examined. What will I do then? Still pondering!
Today’s words: Zigzag, Zany/Serious, Zealously, Zombie.
Synonyms are alternative words that have the power to convey exactly what you’re trying to say.
Zigzag: Roget lists these alternatives: obliquity, be oblique, angularity, angular, meander, deviating, deviate, to and fro, and pattern. The word can be used as a noun, adjective and verb. Under ‘deviate, are a further 50 suggestions including digress, go a roundabout way, diverge, alter course, yaw, tack, twist, swing, wobble, oscillate, and sidestep. I expect most of us are familiar with the zigzag pattern used for decoration, but the word has other, sometimes metaphorical, meanings.
Usage for Zigzag:
‘It’s not uncommon for believers of every sort to zigzag their way through often complex and frequently contradictory aspects of whatever belief they follow.’ We could use ‘diverge’, ‘yaw’, ‘tack’, ‘swing’, ‘wobble’ and ‘oscillate’ in this sentence as alternatives, but each would require a subtle change in structure to provide clarity, so perhaps ‘zigzag’ is the most apposite word in this case. What do you think?
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.
Zany: no longer much used as a noun, the adjectival form of this word is used to describe bizarre, crazy, ridiculous or even idiotic behaviour used for comic effect.
Serious: this adjective has different meanings that depend on the subject. Of people it means responsible, solemn, earnest, sober, sincere. Of situations it can mean important, grave, and giving cause for concern.
Usage for Zany:
‘After a couple of drinks, Olivia’s behaviour changed from sensible to downright zany.
Usage for Serious:
‘Although Olivia could be crazy after a couple of drinks, she was usually serious and sensible.’
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 instead.
Zealously: someone who behaves zealously acts with passion and intensity.
‘George could be relied on to act zealously in defence of his extreme beliefs, even under mild criticism.’ We could avoid the adverb like this; ‘George always defended his extreme views with passion, even under mild provocation.
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.
Zombie: a mythical being that terrifies ordinary people by its ability to move only at a stumbling walk whilst retaining the ability to catch a running victim; any of a group of individuals incapable of rational thought or action in a crisis; someone who spends most of their free time vacantly viewing a television or similar screen.
I welcome your observations and suggestions here. And, if you’ve enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to share it with your followers and friends. Thank you.