Tag Archives: word power

Words we love and words we hate

Book, tea and candle

My favorite way to read in the winter, with a good light and a cup of hot tea. Cozy, hmm? Image courtesy of mconnors, Morguefile.

One of the most fun things about being a copywriter (and a blogger) is the opportunity to tailor what I say to suit my audience. In the course of my career, I’ve written for adults, teens and kids. Depending upon the audience, I choose my words carefully to suit the comprehension level of that group and pay attention to their wants and needs. I’ve looked at the “About” page of many people that follow my blog, so I’m aware that my audience is international and ranges from teenagers to senior citizens.

I’ve also written for different cultures. If I’m writing for a different culture, I do my best to pay some attention to the moral values of that culture because it can flavor my writing. For example, family and community are particularly important in both Hawaiian and Hispanic/Latino culture, so I bear that in mind when I’m writing for that audience.

Another fun thing about being a copywriter is the chance to pick the word with just the right shade of meaning. Take the word “laugh,” for example. You can chuckle, chortle, titter, giggle, jeer, snicker, snigger or snort. Each word conveys laughter but in each case, the word conjures up a different image in the reader’s mind and may have a positive or negative connotation.

Words have punch. When you go to the movies and see the preview for a new film, the words that you see and hear tantalize you and evoke your interest in seeing that movie.

Words often reflect not only the writer’s character, but also a culture. Jane Austen used complicated words with a light touch of irony here and there. Her stories remain popular because we can see ourselves in them, I think.

Words are particularly important on social media websites, since we’re communicating with each other and judging each other without the benefit of seeing others’ facial expressions or hearing their voices (unless they use pictures or video). I enjoy being a blogger because it allows me to play around with words as much as I like and to visit talented writers at their blogs to learn from the excellent writing they provide.

Some of my favorite words are “discombobulate” (I like the musical sound of it), “defenestration” (it tends to stump people) and “aglet” (it also stumps people). Other words I like include “flustrated” (a word combo of “flustered” and “frustrated” that I’ve sometimes heard in the Shenandoah Valley) and the German word “winken” (it’s pronounced “vinken” and is a verb meaning “to wave”). Some words are almost like music when they’re paired just right with another word. American poet Ogden Nash understood this: Who else would come up with the phrase “preposterous rhinoceros”? (Say it five times, quick! And don’t trip over your tongue.)

Words I hate usually involve profanity or are harsh-sounding when they’re spoken out loud. I don’t judge others for using these words on blogs or in books; I just prefer to avoid them myself because there are so many other great words to use in their place.

Words have so much power. They persuade, dissuade, disappoint, hurt, heal, encourage, flatter, annoy, terrify, give joy, entertain, educate, convince, deter, delight and comfort. When words are used right, they can change someone’s life or even the world.

(Okay, can somebody hand me a ladder now? I need to climb down off my soapbox.)

Readers, what are some of your most favorite and least favorite words?


Filed under Writing