Prowling the Prose – Alternatives to Overused Words

“So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason boys–to woo women–and, in that endeavour, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.” โ€“ N. H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society

Well now, witty and withered web-wanderers, I bid you a warm welcome to my latest blogging endeavour. I am sure you are as pleased to have me return from my prowlings, as I am to be here, ready to share more of my werecat wisdom.

whim werecat lying down pose

For those who are unaware (shame on you!) I am the Whimsical Werecat. For those who are already acquainted … I am perfectly pleased to host you again.

This blog’s subject is a light touching on the sorry case of overused words. I suppose a large majority of overused words end up in the “filler” pile, too, but that is a different (though somewhat related) subject that will not be addressed this time around.

Now, little humans, please understand, there is nothing wrong with any of the words I have in my chart below. They are practical, useful, and when all is said an done, totally acceptable additions to any compiled prose. There is, however, the threat of turning your fine written work into a repetitive, distracting pile of goblin mush if you decide to use these words over and over again in every available paragraph, choosing laziness over expansion and style.

The English language is a smorgasbord of words!

There is no shortage of creative and colourful expression, and so no excuse to be lazy or boring with your writing. Now, in saying that, you don’t want to hurry off and pull apart your work, making sure every adjective and verb is different than the last one used to describe the same thing. That’s like dumping a dreadfully thoughtless amalgamation of herbs and spices onto your freshly steamed vegetables. Too many different seasonings and the food is lost in an avalanche of clashing flavours.

Simplicity is key to an enjoyable meal (and read!), but you should never leave (either of them) bland. Spice is good. So is sauce. Those things help to make food pop and prickle and sing!

So, with the food analogy in mind, be sure to add a balanced amount of variation into your writing. The chart below will help with some (of many) overused words by giving you a little list of alternative choices.

Yes. You’re welcome.

prowling the prose alternatives to overused words




About WhimsicalWerecat

In short - Creative extraordinaire, warrior princess, dragon-lover, anime enthusiast, partisan of fantastical things, and most assuredly and proudly peculiar!
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5 Responses to Prowling the Prose – Alternatives to Overused Words

  1. Reblogged this on Samuel Colbran and commented:
    As a follow up with Brhi Stokes useless words, come N.R Eccles-Smith alternative of over used words!
    Head to for more of Brhi Stokes blogs
    Or for N.R. Eccles-Smith, follow this link,

  2. I’d also categorize them based on their meaning. As using the unacceptable adjective on Sauron would give the impression, that the descriptions about him were written by lemongrab.

    • You’re right about the importance of meaning; context plays a vital role! Though I didn’t delve specifically into that subject on the chart, it’s important for a writer to check words (especially if they’re browsing synonyms) to make sure they actually mean what the writer thinks they mean (as far as the context of their sentence is concerned). ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I was trying to think which of these words I am most likely to overuse when writing… if I’m being honest, probably those classic ones ‘very’ and ‘really’! Though I also have a tendency to overuse ‘look’ (my characters do a little too much looking at each other and at the things around them ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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