Tip 26: Word Conundrum Solutions
As a word nerd, I’m a big proponent of dictionaries and their awkwardly-named cousins, thesauri. If you check out an online dictionary, a thesaurus is usually just one tab click away. The two are a nice complement when you’re searching for the most appropriate word to convey what you want to say. In contrast to definitions that help you understand the meaning(s) of a word, a thesaurus will provide you with potential substitutes for a term that may be overused in a document. Searching for alternative words—including their opposites—can also lead to other possibilities for expressing your ideas.
Choosing the right word can get tricky when the dictionary lists multiple definitions. Add to that the range of associated nuances, and the English language can be daunting. This is a fine time to be grateful if you are a native English speaker. And it should be a reminder about the need to clarify the context, which your readers will rely on to interpret the message. Help them by reviewing the researched information about the key terms you are considering to make the most compelling case. Don’t assume you know what a particular word means because you’ve heard or seen it before.
We all need help communicating in this business of human interaction, and even more so in the public education arena. No matter how brilliant a scientist or creative a professor or even tuned-in an editor, we can learn and share our thoughts better by using communication tools. Because communication is just unequivocally difficult. (And I didn’t even touch on the changeability factor!)