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f4a's avatar

What word/s do you usually use that's usually can be used by using another word that's much simplier?

Asked by f4a (601points) July 17th, 2009

either by writing or just speaking, what word/s do you use just to make your sentences more delightful? maybe your bored, or just want to make things interesting, what word/s do usually change, just because they’re usually are the ones being used.

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81 Answers

Les's avatar

I often use the word “attenuated” in my writing and at work. It means “to reduce” or “shorten”. I think “attenuated” in science speak is just so much more appropriate.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t really consciously elect to use certain words. I go with the flow. Then, as part of the editing process, I make sure there are no redundancies.

Having said that, what I am writing and who the audience is make a significant differnce in my word choices as I write.

Also, making my writing “simplier” is not one of my goals.

f4a's avatar

@Les great answer, attenuated seems a good word to use.

f4a's avatar

I use ‘alleviate’ instead of the word reduce.

lilgiraffe's avatar

I choose words that help me to be precise without sounding pompous. I hope. :D
The words just fall in place naturally, depending on the ‘feel’ that I wanna communicate at the time.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

I know that I have a tendency to do this, but I can’t think of any specific examples right now. On the other hand, Wikipedia’s article on logorrhea has a few wonderful examples of this.

Example 1:
George Orwell rewrote Ecclesiastes 9:11, which goes originally like
“I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
To become:
“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

Example 2:
Richard Feynman talked about a time he participated in a multi-disciplinary conference discussing the nebulous topic “the ethics of equality.” He was lost when he read the material presented and decided to parse a sentence until he got it. To the best of his recollection he chose this sentence:
“The individual member of the social community often receives his information via visual, symbolic channels.”
He translated it and discovered that it meant:
“People read”

You simply must feel the tendency to display affection and wonder for this method of oral and written communication between members of the Homo sapiens species.
Are you not in accordance with me?

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

I like to utilize the word utilize instead of use.

Bobbydavid's avatar

I always strive to “simplierfy” all I say and do

f4a's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities yeah, utilize!, that could have been one of my example. good one :)

f4a's avatar

@Saturated_Brain those are good sentences! I enjoyed reading it. :)

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@fish4answers My soul is heartened to encounter such an appreciation of the evidence of my working ethos.

Your gratitude is acknowledged and greatly appreciated.

f4a's avatar

@Saturated_Brain you did it again! that’s good! that’s ‘thank you’.. I like to read or hear those things, it just makes things interesting, don’t you agree? :-)

f4a's avatar

@Saturated_Brain haha yes! now I remember my grandfather, He used to use that instead of yes.

cwilbur's avatar

I try to use the simplest word that accurately conveys the meaning. Things like ‘utilize’ for ‘use’ really grate on me.

MindStudy's avatar

I like to use the word facetious in lieu of sarcastic… Also love to use “food” related words in sentences such as… Let that marinate for a while and get back to me…

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Saturated_Brain That example two reminds me of all the pretentious folks that sprinkle their speech with fifty dollar words to make themselves seem intelligent. If you want people to know you are intelligent, using fifty dollar words when a fifty cent word will do, is NOT the way to do it.

It’s how you present the knowledge, not how many tongue-twisting hyper-syllable words you can pack into a sentence, that shows your intelligence. Creationists are often guilty of this when presenting their arguments for ID.

Les's avatar

I don’t know. I don’t really see the problem with people using “big” words in their speech. It only gets on my nerves when people mispronounce or misuse words. A friend of mine yesterday used the word “superbulous”. From his context, it meant “superb”. Uhhh…

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra Are you serious? I’ve never encountered that before.. Hmm.. But yeah. You’re right. Although you can sometimes use nice big words for a grand effect, being concise is actually more well-received. And according to that Wiki article, in a study done, it was found that those who managed to be concise were often ranked as more intelligent than those who filled their sentences with hyperbolic words (there may be some slight irony in this sentence I realise….).

And as for @Les‘s ‘superbulous’.. Lol.. Just… Lol…

LexWordsmith's avatar

@les : actually, i think of “attenuate” as meaning “thin out” or “weaken”, rather than what you suggest (not that i fail to recognize the conceptual overlap).

Les's avatar

@LexWordsmith – You’re right. And actually, that’s precisely what I mean when I use the word. We use it in the context of a photometer that measures ozone. UV light at a certain intensity shines through a tube containing ozone, which absorbs some of the light. A sensor on the other end measures the “new” intensity of the light on the other end. So it sounds funny to say the UV light was “thinned out” or “weakened”. It was “attenuated”. I guess this is one of those cases where that is the only word that works.

LexWordsmith's avatar

must be related etymologically to “tenuous.” (i certainly am getting in a year’s wo4rth of use of the word “etymologically” today!)

SirBailey's avatar

I have some. You can guess the simpler words:

Defecate (or “Bowel movement”)

Sexual intercourse (or “Procreate”)


Female dog

Oral sex

ShanEnri's avatar

I use a phrase from the movie “It” It is when the father is talking to his daughter and he says to her “Don’t make me come and collect you!” I say that to my kids sometimes. Don’t know if this applies.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I’m so Caucasian I call ‘white’ ‘caucasian’.....

gailcalled's avatar

@fish4answers:I find it’s a good idea to get the simple words right first. “You’re bored with your choice of words” isn’t such a bad sentence, and it is easy to understand.

“Intercourse” and “procreate” are not synonymous all of the time.

brettvdb's avatar

I use “facetious” instead of sarcastic – they aren’t exact synonyms but I generally use them pretty interchangeably.

gailcalled's avatar

@brettvdb: Be elegant and enjoy the differences between the two words.

Shegrin's avatar

I use “plethora” instead of “a lot”.
“Myriad” instead of “Several”.
“Sand” instead of “Cojones”.

gailcalled's avatar

“Plethora” means “an excess,” which is more than “a lot,” but less than “myriad,” which is more than “several,” which is only two or three.

“Sand” can mean whatever you want, I guess. To me, it signifies something that makes my soil more arable.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I do that with most medical terms. I once woke up with a dead leg and had to run to the phone – one of my most uncoordinated moments. When I told friends about it, instead of saying I hurt the side of my foot, I said that I hurt ‘the base of the fifth metatarsal.’ They still remind me of it.

I also use overly complex words as insults at times, for example rather than calling the Premier of our state a moron, I call him neurologically deficient.

YARNLADY's avatar

Am I the only one that’s bothered by so many grammatical errors in the question and details above?

cyn's avatar

supercalifragilisticexpialidocious—instead of saying I don’t know

Macaulay's avatar


filmfann's avatar

I always thought the Beatles best album was the eponymous album.
It just means self titled.

cyn's avatar

@filmfann…....imagine a hipster calling himself a hipster…
:) a.k.a @eponymoushipster
I lurve that guy

f4a's avatar

@ShanEnri, yeah that example applies
@ABoyNamedBoobs03 good example
@brettvdb that word was already mentioned, but I still appreciate that you shared
@Shegrin I sometimes use Myriad too. Thanks for the other two examples
@gailcalled thanks for clarifying the meanings.
@FireMadeFlesh heheh its amazing you were still able to say ‘the base of the fifth metatarsal’ instead of foot even if your hurting. good examples too.
@cyndihugs hehehe I thought that was used to express happiness, never heard it used for ‘I don’t know’ thanks for sharing.
@filmfann thanks for sharing, I didn’t know that, good to know the meaning of that album.

as for the question, don’t take it too seriously. Its more of what you say to your friends, when you are goofing around.
If your friend ask you, “wanna go have a bite to eat?” a normal reply would be, “yeah sure”
but because you’re bored, goofing around, and are friends you would say “anything to diminish my hunger”
then both of you would laugh, because you both know there was a simplier answer to it.

I understand its better to be simple and concise when writing or speaking. But this question is when you and your friends are just enjoying a friendly conversation.

And as for the grammar of the question asked, yeah, its a little redundant. Atleast it was simple and you understood it. heheh I was too excited when I wrote it down.
Hope people give more examples. Thanks

cyn's avatar

@fish4answers lets just say that we’re happy that we don’t know…

YARNLADY's avatar

@fish4answers It’s worse than redundant; “that’s usually can be used” doesn’t even make sense, and the details have several sentences that do not start with capitols, and “maybe your bored” should read you’re. I don’t mean to criticize, but questions with the tags you used should be held to a higher standard.

cyn's avatar

@fish4answers it’s a word to say when you don’t know what to say…

f4a's avatar

@YARNLADY Com’on that’s too much nitpicking, give me a break here hehehe.. Though I appreciate the concern and corrections. The ‘your bored’ error, I can’t believe I missed that. I never liked interchanging the your and you’re.

f4a's avatar

@cyndihugs I never got that word right and especially if asked to write it down. supercalifragilisticexpialidocious <-i just cut and paste from your previous answer. heheh

cyn's avatar

yeah I learned how to write it…had to take a notebbok out and start rewriting it until I actually didn’t know what I was writing, but it was spelled correct….

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Compromised instead of just calling it, “farked up”

LexWordsmith's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03 : whites are almost always Caucasian, but not all Caucasians are whites: genetically ethnic natives of India, for instance, are caucasian, regardless of how dark their skin is. but, of course, in our day of worldwide genetic mixing, race and ethnicity are becoming increasingly fuzzy concepts.

IBERnineD's avatar

“That’s beyond ridiculous, it’s ricockulous”
“The ish”
“shady games” <—must be done while making a eye shape over one eye

Nially_Bob's avatar

Using less mundane terminology to make a conversation (or some manner of writing) more interesting is fine but the opposite effect can be achieved quite easily when over-using this ability in that people might become confused (perhaps distracted) by what is being said or written.
I have never been a fan of the word ‘utilise’ as it’s merely adopted in place of ‘use’ and thus drags attention away from what is being discussed. A good writer/eloquent speaker is someone who can explain something simply and with precision by using complex language competently but only when necessary.

Nially_Bob's avatar

…Incidentally I refer to food almost exclusively as munchies or munchin’s.

janbb's avatar

“usually” and “redundant.”

tiffyandthewall's avatar

“blasphemy”, “inevitable”, “pish posh” a handful of psychology words i attached myself to, and whatever pops into my head that interests me more than a simpler more commonly used word.

f4a's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence thanks for sharing. I use compromised too, but I don’t think I replace it with the phrase “farked up.”
@IBERnineD I use -ish too.
@Nially_Bob I’ve never used munchies but I know its related to food
@janbb thanks for sharing
@tiffyandthewall good examples thanks.

LexWordsmith's avatar

Actually, almost every word that i use has more syllables than some equally effective alternative. I’m sesquipedalian, not a pompous windbag.<grin>

f4a's avatar

@LexWordsmith have you really used that word with someone? was there really an instance you used it instead of the simplistic word? either way good example.

gailcalled's avatar

@fish4answers: Note that “simpler” and “simplistic” are not synonymous.

Some synonyms for pompous windbag are fustian, bombastic, orotund and grandiloquent.

f4a's avatar

@gailcalled thanks for the correction.
heheh grandiloquent, I can’t imagine saying that when I really mean shouting windbag to someone. Or even hearing someone say it to someone, I would probably laugh. hehe thanks for sharing.

LexWordsmith's avatar

@fish4answers : can’t be—my two-word phrase functions as a noun, whereas your last three are adjectives and i guess your first one could be a noun (meaning, “pretentious discursiveness?”), but i’m more used to it as an adjective meaning (of speech) “ridiculously over-ornamented.” (So, as you can see, i’m not only sesquipedalian, but pedantic.<grin>)

“Grandiloquent” (using high-flown diction) and “windbaggish” (wordy) really don’t mean the same thing. One (but, of course, not this one now writing) could be grandiloquent, yet concise—many couplets in Shalespeare’s plays are so.

gailcalled's avatar

@LexWordsmith: You’re talkin’ to me. I know that my synonyms for “pompous windbag” were adjectives. I love your style but would caution against over-punctuation. Is there a word for that?

Maybe when Shakespeare wrote, and his putative audience was the general unwashed masses, his language was not considered grandiloquent but part of the common parlance.

And there is visitation for visit.

LexWordsmith's avatar

@gailcalled : You love my style? Be still my beating heart! (and, of course, i congratulate you on your good taste.<impish grin>) i’m glad that i’ve been married for thirty years; and, furthermore and separately, i’m glad that i’m far too old to have the energy to attempt to court anyone; for, if neither of those sufficient conditions held, i’m sure i’d be doing my best to make a fool of myself over already SO-ed you.

As regards over-punctuation, i cut my stylistic teeth on The Scarlet Letter and The Mill on the Floss, and now it’s far too late to teach this old dog any new tricks, but i am nonetheless grateful for your well-meant advice.

LexWordsmith's avatar

@gailcalled : see? already your praise has been a bad influence on me—i was so dizzy with unexpected pleasure that i omitted a necessary comma after “still.”

gailcalled's avatar

@LexWordsmith: Think of the possibilities. Be, still my beating heart is one.

You read The Scarlett Letter and The Mill on the Floss voluntarily?

My SO at the present is the delectable Milo, Fluther Cat God. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to manage to open an account.

cwilbur's avatar

You can re-cut your stylistic teeth—filing them to points, as it were—by translating Cicero. Better than than admitting in public that you read The Scarlet Letter without being forced to.

gailcalled's avatar

@cwilbur: Funny. I have been looking for a used Latin I grammar online. All I remember is “Alba agricola est,” which has its limitations.

(Colossal thunder, lightening and rain heading east. We are awash and the streams are overflowing.)

LexWordsmith's avatar

i was obliged to read them as school assignments, but i embraced them without reserve and never felt any urge to rebel—instead, i submitted blissfully to my eccentric inclination.

@cwilbur : that first sentence got you the five lurve, despite the second sentence.

@gailcalled : Stop teasing me, Ms. “La Dame au Chat sans Merci”! You’re making me suspect that my omission of the comma was a serendipitous Freudian slip.

Milo has a private fluther with you—what need has he of any including third parties?

LexWordsmith's avatar

For once, it was at least equally correct to use “obliged” as “obligated’ in this context.

gailcalled's avatar

@LexWordsmith: What? You missed Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Silas Marner?

The English comedian, Michael Flanders (RIP) translated La Belle Dame sans Merci as “the beautiful lady who never said ‘thank-you.’ ”

cwilbur's avatar

@gailcalled: If you make it as far east as Northampton, Raven Used Books can be counted on to have at least a few copies of Wheelock.

I actually have, in a notebook somewhere, the beginnings of a translation of the Aeneid. I lost momentum somewhere around the famous forsitan et haec olim meminisse juvabit and just kept reading it in Latin, because the fun part was the reading and the hard part was trying to figure out how to put it in comparable English. I should have followed Aeneas’s advice: Durate, durate.

@LexWordsmith: I, too, was forced to read The Scarlet Letter. It pretty much put me off 19th century American literature for good, which may have been the intended effect.

gailcalled's avatar

@cwilbur : When I visited Salem, I remember thinking how unfun it would have been to have lived in one of those little, squat, and dark cottages. No wonder Hester got restless as well as poor Reverend Dimwit.

LexWordsmith's avatar

@gailcalled : did not miss Silas Marner—on the contrary, reveled in it. after Tess and Jude, however, i did give a pass to the rest of Thomas Hardy’s oeuvre—talk about bleak nights of the soul!

gailcalled's avatar

@cwilbur: My sis goes to Northampton regularly and is familar with Raven’s. I will send her on a quest during her next trip.

@LexWordsmith: I just reread Tess. Now I never have to do that again.

janbb's avatar

@LexWordsmith Actually, Tess and Jude are two of his grimmest. I think The Mayor of Casterbridge is a little lighter – while still no walk on the heath. I tried The Return of the Native and couldn’t get into it all.

@gailcalled Tess is really depressing. I read it a second time thinking I might teach it but…yuch!

LexWordsmith's avatar

@gailcalled : would that you had never had to do it in the first place! Subjecting yourself to it a second time really was outright masochism.

Zen's avatar

Serendipitously (instead of Shit!)

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@Zen But “serendipitous” comes nowhere near “shit!” in meaning!

Zen's avatar

It does, for me.You wanna make something of it? Meet you in the chatroom at noon, pistols.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@Zen I’ll see you in the chatroom another time, when I’m freer. I’m not supposed to be on here right now anyway =P

BhacSsylan's avatar

Hmm. This is getting very long, but if anyone’s still interested in crazy sentences, i suggest Tycho from Penny Arcade. He makes it a habit of writing in a.. lets say ‘florid prose’. Take today’s news post:

“By any reasonable barometer, any metric, by any comprehensive schema of assessment, undeath is this nation’s chief export. We deal it out globally, all the while surfing metabolically on the strange fumes of its production.”

Which could be: It’s obvious that we export a lot of undead material.

So, yeah. He’s pretty masterful at that.

Also, for some creepy but pretty powerful wordplay, try one of the favorites: The Black Mantle.

Rubrica's avatar


Coined by Daniel Handler, also known as Lemony Snicket, in his fifth ASOUE book, it is defined as “the feeling or sensation of not having the faintest idea what’s going on”.

Also, mamihlapinatapai, meaning “a look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that they both desire but which neither one wants to start”.

graynett's avatar

My teacher “Never! use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice”

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