Are You a Logophile?



In the novel I am currently reading, a teenager tells his grandmother she is phat. She is offended.

Like myself, she didn’t know that phat is slang for cool (also slang).

My grandson uses epic in his speech. Another word that is fairly new in our vocabulary.

Just recently, flatten the curve and social distancing have come onto the scene. Only weeks ago, they had no meaning.

As writers, we need to keep current on new additions to vocabulary and use them in our writing when appropriate. 

The vocabulary we use is a subtle reminder to our readers just what time period we are writing about. It must be consistent with the setting and characters.

It would be ridiculous for an old western cowpoke to exclaim that a cattle drive was epic; or for a young girl living in this current decade to say that a boy she thinks is handsome is the bee’s knees.

Did you know there are an average of one thousand new words added to the dictionary each year?

Are you a logophile (word lover)?

How do you keep up on the current trends in vocabulary? 

Inspirational Words With a Twist


Watch your thoughts,

for they become Words.

Watch your words,

for they become actions.

The are the beginning lines of a well-known inspirational poem.

However, as I look at them, I see a hidden message for us writers.

When I first began writing, I had to break myself of the habit of telling.

I remember having so many critiques returned to me with the following in the comment section:

“Give more thoughts…show more action.”


Word choice.

In a lesson for my young students, I now give an example of how choosing the correct words can make a huge difference in the meaning that is portrayed:

Max walked down the street.

Max ran down the street.

Max skipped down the street.

Max hobbled down the street.

Max fled down the street.

And on and on…

Each new verb changes the picture for our minds’ eye.

And that picture, changes the mood…the intent…the meaning.

A dictionary, a thesaurus.

These are a writer’s best friends—especially the thesaurus.

They make our work more accurate

more vivid

more exciting.

They change telling stories into “word movies” and ho-hum books into sheer excitement for the reader.

When I Forget the Words

Have you seen instances on television of celebrities, football players, and even olympians who don’t know the correct words to the Star Spangled Banner? Or, perhaps witnessed an interview of a person who got tongue-tied, searching frantically for just that right word?

As writers, we have it a little easier than that. Using our computers, we can write and rewrite until we get the words to flow “just right”. We can use a thesaurus and a dictionary to help us choose words and check on meanings.

I recently bought a book called The Describer’s Dictionary by David Grambs. I must confess I have just begun to use it, but to give you an example of how it works, say you want to describe the color black. The book gives these words: ebony, ebon, sable, jet, onyx, ink black, coal black, anthracite.  The book is divided into words for various Shapes, Patterns and Edges, Surfaces and Textures, Light and Colors, etc.

A book I’ve used a LOT, is The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I truly believe no fiction writer should be without this book. It includes all emotions in an easy-to-use alphabetical format that is further broken down into Physical Signals, Internal Sensations, Mental Responses, Cues of Acute or Long Term experiences of an emotion, emotions that specific examples May Escalate To, and Cues of Suppressed emotions. I especially like the Writer’s Tip which is provided at the bottom of each listed emotion.

So, there are resources out there. I am slowly finding them. If you know of any others that writers might find useful, please let me know. One I’d find extremely useful would be substitutions for adverbs. If there isn’t one out there, already, maybe this would be a project you’d be interested in taking on!