Posts Tagged ‘words’

10 Tips Plus One More About Beautiful Words

03 Feb

wordsIf I could only recommend two books about words to writers, it would be:

Both are for those atavistic autodidactic souls who love Beautiful Words. Not ordinary words, or syntax, or grammar and spelling, nor the ebb and flow of a well-written sentence (as charming as is such a creature). You will discovered that the U-shape created by a cord hanging from two fixed points is a ‘catenary’ and a ‘deipnosophist’ is someone you’d gladly invite to dinner (for their robust conversation). These two books are for bibliophiles, focusing on words that make you want to find a spot in daily conversation where they fit. Because they are filled with meaning, emotion, texture, sizzle. If I say, “The susurrus sound of shushing winds…”, do you even care what ‘susurrous’ means? No–be honest. All you care is that it’s a d*** beautiful sounding word.

That’s what’s in these two books. Here are ten tips on how to get the most out of them after they’ve assumed pride of place on your writer’s bookshelf:

  1. Take time every day to crack one or the other open, read a few words, let them rattle around in your brain like caged birds, and then delve into your subconscious. You’ll find yourself relaxing, smiling, understanding that life most assuredly can get better than sitting at a desk working for the Man.
  2. Become familiar with words appropriate to your life, interests, hobbies. Know the right way to say ‘snow’ if you’re in Alaska or the one word that characterizes a child who tends to cause trouble (fractious). There is nothing that says ‘philomath’ like knowing exactly the right word for a situation.
  3. Writers are renowned for knowing the exact word that fits a situation. Readers don’t like trolling through three words when it can be said in one. In fact, they won’t. Develop the habit–the love–for words. It might seem difficult at first, but soon, it’s a joy.
  4. Understand roots and affixes so when you read a word, your brain decodes it before you even find it necessary to pull out the Oxford Essential Dictionary of Difficult Words. Unlike words, there are a limited number of prefixes and suffixes, applied in an infinite variety of ways. You’ll feel like Sherlock Holmes as you unravel the meaning. Break ‘polyglot’ into pieces–I bet you can figure out what it means.
  5. Read this book and you can honestly call yourself a ‘bibliophile’. How cool is that.
  6. Read this book and be amazed by how many of Buckley’s favorite, most erudite words you understand. You will gain renewed respect for your cerebral powers. Decoding words will become abecederian (think ‘abc’).
  7. As a writer, we all must read the manuscripts of our most famous representatives. William F. Buckley is one of those people-a wordsmith without equal. Truthfully, even if you aren’t enthralled with words as I am, anyone who calls themselves ‘writer’ should read this.
  8. If you loved Bryson’s list of favorite words in his Dictionary for Writers and Editors, read this.
  9. It’s small enough to fit into a purse, the pocket of a briefcase, in an iPad bag. Bring it everywhere; pull it out when you have a free five minutes, waiting on… something… anything…
  10. As Bryan Kerr mentioned in an Amazon review, ‘Buckley’ has become a verb. ‘To Buckley’ meaning ‘to use the exact perfect word for an occasion, and likely one most people don’t understand’.
  11. This for my teacher readers: Common Core requires renewed interest in blending vocabulary into every part of education. What better way to do that than a deep, abiding love of words.

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103 Most Beautiful Words? You Decide

12 Jun

There’s a list of beautiful words going around the internet–the 100 most beautiful words, or so they claim. I love words. I’ve written


103 Most Beautiful Words? (image created in Wordle)

several posts about words in general and this one about the beauty of words. I’m always interested in adding to my list. Here’s their list:

100 Most beautiful words in the English language* 

  1. Ailurophile A cat-lover.
  2. Assemblage A gathering.
  3. Becoming Attractive.
  4. Beleaguer To exhaust with attacks.
  5. Brood To think alone.
  6. Bucolic In a lovely rural setting.
  7. Bungalow A small, cozy cottage.
  8. Chatoyant Like a cat’s eye.
  9. Comely Attractive.
  10. Conflate To blend together.
  11. Cynosure A focal point of admiration. Read the rest of this entry »
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Eight Favorite Words–Part III

08 Apr

These are wonderful words that roll off your tongue. They feel good to say–and hear. Who can hear ‘zeitgeist’ and not feel the fullness of time wrap around them? Or ‘tintinnabulation’–can’t you just hear the tiny bells calling out? Tell me which is your #1 favorite:

  1. Sesquipedalian–use overly long words. Like polysyllabic, but I love the way the word commits its definition
  2. shingled–can’t you just see those cucumbers slapped on a serving tray like shingles on a roof
  3. Sitzfleisch–ability to sit patiently for hours doing one thing when you could be doing a million others. Story of my life
  4. tarradiddle–pretentious nonsense. Another of those words that sounds like its def.
  5. tintinnabulation–tinkling sound. I hear the tintinnabulation of bells–let’s just call it the ‘tintin’
  6. triskaidekaphobia–who would know there’s a word for the fear of the number ’13’. I love English
  7. verbolatry–it’s what this list does–worships words
  8. Zeitgeist–the spirit of the time. Writers: this must be captured for an effective historic novel.

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Ten Favorite Words–Part II

02 Apr

I love reading, but I’m particularly drawn to books that use beautiful words. Eliabeth Goerge is one of those authors. I’ll forgive a lot of literay mistakes to learn a new word or two.

I have 468 books on my Goodreads list–only a small portion of what I’ve read. I cover 1-2 books a week, including many for my Amazon Vine gig. Here are ten more of the beautiful words I’ve collected (see the first ten here):

  1. eolian–borne, deposited, eroded by wind. Gives you the sense of timelessness, of Nature’s power.Untitled-1
  2. feral–wild, unchained. A look, a scent, a scense. When you run into something ‘feral’, you’re definitely not in Kansas anymore.
  3. Heteroscedasticity–different variance in statistics. Doesn’t it sound smart? One word and you’ve convinced you’re readers the character is brilliant.
  4. Hobson’s choice–choice without alternative; thing offered or nothing. This is the resolution to every crisis in writing
  5. neologism: the use or creation of new words or expressions. I use them. Geeks (see ‘Ten Favorite Geek Words) create them. A synonym for ‘fun’.
  6. pablum–dumbed-down language or ideas, i.e., for the ‘masses’. None of the words on this list qualifypablum
  7. philistine–smug or or hostile to artistic and cultural values. The opposite of Renaissance Man
  8. precarious purchase. Doesn’t that sound frightening? Like hanging one-handed from a crumbling cliff?
  9. presbyopia–blindness. Worse than myopia. Applies to sight and ability to see the solutions to problems.
  10. schadenfreude–malicious satisfaction from the misfortunes of others. Use this, most of your readers won’t get it. Maybe that’s the plan…

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Ten Favorite Geek Words–Part I

04 May

I write techno-thrillers, so I’m always reading about computers, technology, the Latest Stuff. Here are some of my

favorite Geek Speak words (Computer nerds are so neologistic):

  1. alpha geek–the most technologically savvy dude in the company
  2. amazonned–amazonized, means you’ve lost a chunk of your business to a dot-com.
  3. back hack–when you get hacked, you return the favor
  4. beta baby–child born to a high-tech pro after 1995
  5. code 18–Used by tech support to disguise when they’re calling a technical issue user-caused. They’re so PC
  6. cyberterrorism–terror on a computer
  7. digital jewelry–any hi-tech stuff you wear around your neck–ipods, phones, etc.
  8. edress–an electronic address (IP, IM, email, etc.)
  9. idea hampster–Someone who always has his/her idea generator running
  10. inner geek–the techie deep within each of us

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