Avoid Fancy Words

6207da0c9e08fd20a96cc7bf70033c98I personally like to read communications where I don’t notice the writing at all. You can achieve that by investing in great content and then stripping away anything that detracts from it.

Avoid fancy words. Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute. Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.

You should write in a way that comes easy and natural. I don’t know anybody that says the sky is beauteous, or she was ostentatious. I certainly don’t use those words in my everyday conversations, as a matter of fact, I don’t use them in my writing either.

I could just imagine my reader stumbling over these words.  They are long and require effort to read. They slow down the pace and pull readers out of their suspension of disbelief, by reminding them they are reading.

I saw this example in a blog and thought it did a great job of getting my point across.

Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly.

I bet that sentence drove you nuts. I know the example is a bit extreme, but what do you think? Should I go with simple or fancy?

My thought is, you should write problems instead of consequences, using instead of utilized, long words instead of erudite vernacular, and needlessly instead of irrespective of necessity. Keep it simple.

Use longer words only if your meaning is so specific no other words will do.

Something to think about.

-Jan R

Avoid Fancy Words

7 thoughts on “Avoid Fancy Words

  1. Your mileage may vary, as they say, when it comes to whether a word is “fancy” or not. I think a better guideline is, “Use words appropriate for your target audience.” Even “cute” words are appropriate in some situations. And one of my least favorite examples of pretentious-sounding writing involves the (incorrect) use of “as,” which is one of the shortest words in the English language.

    Not every long word is “erudite vernacular.” The program Grammerly insists that “familiar,” of all words, is TOO BIG to be used in fiction written for grown-ups. Sure, it has four syllables (if you pronounce it correctly), but even a little kid knows the word, because it’s ordinary. (Grammarly also says “ordinary” is too big. *rolls eyes*) There are also short words that may come across as “fancy” to most people. Try describing a shape as a “cloche” and see how many readers understand…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely! “Please stop feeing pepper to your pet thesaurus,” I’ve said to more than one writer. (“Thesaurus snot” is how I sometimes describe over-the-top vocabulary that doesn’t even mean what the write seems to think it means.)

        Liked by 2 people

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