Sunday, September 14, 2008

Writing the Novel - Another List of Overused Words

I hope everyone's writing is going well and that progress is being made. Again, I'd like to thank all those who've posted comments. Your thoughts are much appreciated and gives me motivation to keep this blog going when I really have so many other things I should be doing.

A while back, I posted a list of words that I'd jotted down during various writing courses. These were words to be avoided, poor modifiers, weak descriptors, over-used words. That post has turned out to be one of my favorites, as I go back to it often as I'm rewriting. As I'm nearing completion of my revision, each word it seems is taking on greater importance, and I find myself commonly go back to that list.

So for today's post, I wanted to update it and expand it. Some of you may remember that the reason I originally started this blog was to share all that I've learned over the years towards publishing, but also for myself. When I came up with my Ten-Point Revision Strategy, this blog served as a thinking pad for me to flesh those ideas out, help me to concentrate and focus in the important details. And I still find I'm doing that. Each time I post, what I write about is as much to help me understand the topics as it is to offer any insights to the readers. Hopefully, we'll both be able to learn and grow in our writing together.

This list has been modified from

I present it here as a tool for all of us to remember those weak, overused words. If you'd like any further research on the topic, please visit their site.

Overused Words

approximately, nearly, almost, approaching, close to
absolutely unconditionally, perfectly, completely, ideally, purely
activity action, movement, operation, labor, exertion, enterprise, project, pursuit, endeavor, job, assignment, pastime, scheme, task
add attach, affix, join, unite, append, increase, amplify
affect adjust, influence, transform, moderate, incline, motivate, prompt
amazing overwhelming, astonishing, startling, unexpected, stunning, dazzling, remarkable
awesome impressive, stupendous, fabulous, astonishing, outstanding
bad defective, inadequate, poor, unsatisfactory, disagreeable, offensive, repulsive, corrupt, wicked, naughty, harmful, injurious, unfavorable
basic essential, necessary, indispensable, vital, fundamental, elementary
beautiful attractive, appealing, alluring, exquisite, gorgeous, handsome, stunning
begin commence, found, initiate, introduce, launch, originate
better preferable, superior, worthier
big enormous, extensive, huge, immense, massive
boring commonplace, monotonous, tedious, tiresome
bring accompany, cause, convey, create, conduct, deliver, produce
cause origin, stimulus, inspiration, motive
certain unquestionable, incontrovertible, unmistakable, indubitable, assured, confident
change alter, transform, vary, replace, diversify
choose select, elect, nominate, prefer, identify
decent respectable, adequate, fair, suitable
definitely unquestionably, clearly, precisely, positively, inescapably
easy effortless, natural, comfortable, undemanding, pleasant, relaxed

effective powerful, successful
emphasize underscore, feature, accentuate
end limit, boundary, finish, conclusion, finale, resolution
energy vitality, vigor, force, dynamism
enjoy savor, relish, revel, benefit
entire complete, inclusive, unbroken, integral
excellent superior, remarkable, splendid, unsurpassed, superb, magnificent
exciting thrilling, stirring, rousing, dramatic
far distant, remote
fast swift, quick, fleet, hasty, instant, accelerated
fill occupy, suffuse, pervade, saturate, inflate, stock
finish complete, conclude, cease, achieve, exhaust, deplete, consume
funny comical, ludicrous, amusing, droll, entertaining, bizarre, unusual, uncommon
get obtain, receive, acquire, procure, achieve
give bestow, donate, supply, deliver, distribute, impart
go proceed, progress, advance, move
good satisfactory, serviceable, functional, competent, virtuous, striking
great tremendous, superior, remarkable, eminent, proficient, expert
happy pleased, joyous, elated, jubilant, cheerful, delighted
hard arduous, formidable, complex, complicated, rigorous, harsh
help assist, aid, support, sustain, serve
hurt injure, harm, damage, wound, impair
important significant, substantial, weighty, meaningful, critical, vital, notable
interesting absorbing, appealing, entertaining, fascinating, thought-provoking
job task, work, business, undertaking, occupation, vocation, chore, duty, assignment
keep retain, control, possess
kind type, variety, sort, form
know comprehend, understand, realize, perceive, discern
like (adj) similar, equivalent, parallel
like (verb) enjoy, relish, appreciate
main primary, foremost, dominant
make build, construct, produce, assemble, fashion, manufacture
mean plan, intend, suggest, propose, indicate
more supplementary, additional, replenishment
new recent, modern, current, novel
next subsequently, thereafter, successively
nice pleasant, satisfying, gracious, charming
old aged, mature, experienced, used, worn, former, previous
open unobstructed, accessible
part section, portion, segment, detail, element, component
perfect flawless, faultless, ideal, consummate
plan scheme, design, system, plot
pleasant agreeable, gratifying, refreshing, welcome
prove demonstrate, confirm, validate, verify, corroborate
quick brisk, prompt, responsive, rapid, nimble, hasty
really truly, genuinely, extremely, undeniably
regular standard, routine, customary, habitual
see regard, behold, witness, gaze, realize, notice
small diminutive, miniature, minor, insignificant, slight, trivial
sometimes occasionally, intermittently, sporadically, periodically
take grasp, capture, choose, select, tolerate, endure
terrific extraordinary, magnificent, marvelous
think conceive, imagine, ponder, reflect, contemplate
try attempt, endeavor, venture, test
use employ, operate, utilize
very unusually, extremely, deeply, exceedingly, profoundly
want desire, crave, yearn, long


Inez said...

Wow! Thanks for this list! May I link to this for writers who visit my site?

Todd D. Severin said...

Inez, thanks for your kind comments. Yes, please feel free to link to your site. All we wish to do is help as many people as possible.

Dissertation Help said...

it's good to see this information in your post, i was looking the same but there was not any proper resource, thanx now i have the link which i was looking for my research.

vince said...

overused adjectives; the list is fine, but it doesn't distinguish how one differentiates the ill-use and proper use of words: a thread I note, is that the words have this in common: they suggest a conclusive idea: they do not describe as much as they conclude as aspect: in the regime of showing and telling, they tell more than they show; sadly, I fear my own writing shall be done in by my own inability to recognize such words and phrases. Alas and Alack. Vince

Anonymous said...

This is the best list of over-used words I have come across. Thank you very much for writing it as it will be tremendously useful to me in increasing my vocabulary