Tip #19: Use the Thesaurus at Your Own Risk

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Brian's Writing Tip #19: Beware the ThesaurusBe cautious about using a thesaurus. A thesaurus is a great tool for reminding us of words we know but that don’t come readily to mind. Be careful, however, about using unfamiliar words in your writing. Words listed in a thesaurus as synonyms often carry connotations that might make them inappropriate for particular uses. Referring to someone as slender or svelte is not the same as calling them cadaverous or emaciated, though they are technically synonyms.

One student of mine described an old table in a paper as “antediluvian.” I asked her if she had used a thesaurus. She said, “Yes. How did you know?”

I said, “Because antediluvian means ‘before the Flood.’”

Use a thesaurus. It’s a wonderful resource. Just be sure you really know the word before using it in your writing.

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About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. venz
    venz05-04-2014

    Go ahead and correct grammer and spelling. It’s okay. Just keep this private if possible, please?

  2. venz
    venz05-04-2014

    Go ahead and correct grammer and spelling. It’s okay.

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