Spoonful #89: Synonym Fan Club
I relied heavily on my trusty Roget's Thesaurus throughout high school and college. These days, lucky writers can easily access synonyms on mobile phones and computers. If you aren't already a fan of synonyms, I hope you will be after reading this post!
4 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LOVE SYNONYMS
Reason #1: Eliminate Repetition
Why use the same words over and over when you can enliven your essay, story, or speech with sparkling synonyms?
Reason #2: Increase Vocabulary
Thesaurus.com (part of dictionary.com) makes it simple to look up synonyms. Yes, you should look up definitions if don't know the meanings of any of the words. But whenever possible, use synonyms instead. To test your comprehension, turn index cards into vocabulary cards, turn a small journal into your custom vocabulary book, or create an online Quizlet. The ultimate goal should be the ability to use these new words in appropriate sentences.
Here are some ideas I've used to make learning vocabulary fun for elementary and middle school children: crosswords, word searches, word matching, and clever fill-in-the-blank sentences. Additionally, Thesaurus.com has recently added Synonyms of the Day and Synonyms for Overused Words. If you like the image I used for this post, it hails from GrammarTOP.com.
Reason #3: Enliven and Elevate Writing
Are your essays dull and lifeless? Are your characters indistinguishable? Synonyms to the rescue! Here are some examples, ranging from simple to fancy to super casual.
exciting = exhilarating = breathtaking = astonishing = groovy
good = acceptable = agreeable = satisfying = awesome
bad = atrocious = dreadful = defective = cruddy
villain = antihero = miscreant = reprobate = creep
tired = fatigued = haggard = drained = burned out
make = compose = fabricate = synthesize = brew
find = discover = detect = pinpoint = unearth
Reason #4: Ace Standardized Tests
The SSAT Verbal section has 30 synonym and 30 analogy questions, all of which require advanced vocabulary. In the Reading sections of the SSAT/SAT/ACT, synonyms often appear in correct answers. Don't wait until right before taking those tests to work on your vocabulary. If you start earlier, you can learn a manageable number of words each day. If you wait, you'll end up cramming, and it's harder for the words to stick.
Here are two engaging vocabulary books I recommend:
The Vocabulary Builder Workbook by Chris Lele from Magoosh
SAT Vocabulary: The Essential 500 Words by Larry Krieger
I hope I've convinced you to dust off your thesaurus, physical or virtual, and to become a charter member of my Synonym Fan Club!
Laura F. Cooper