"Avoid fancy words. Avoid the
elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute. Do not be
tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy,
ready and able. " —from The
Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.
Recently, I said to my English 10
class that the biggest danger of a thesaurus was the temptation
many students may have for choosing a fancier, more difficult
When your vocabulary is still weak,
it is indeed tempting to choose those fancy words in an attempt to
impress your reader (usually your teacher!). It is a mistake,
however, to force the teacher to consult a dictionary in order to
understand your work. Although it doesn't happen often, it is
To avoid this problem, use the
Internet. Search for the word you are about to use. Is it found
frequently (thousands of pages)? Or is it rare? Make your decision
based on what you find.
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