In a Word – book review

in-a-word-the-essential-tool-for-finding-the-perfect-word-400x400-imad99qyjz5ehyzpThere are so many wondrous words in the English language. Words that fill your mouth and exercise your tongue, words such as:

  • marmoreal (an adjective meaning like marble, cold, white, smooth)
  • verklempt (Yiddish for overcome with emotion)
  • cacography (bad spelling or handwriting).

So how do you find the right one?

Well, normal people would simply do a Google search – but against all logic, I somehow find that randomly flicking through the pages of In a Word, written by Mark Broatch, usually gives me a faster and better answer.

This reference book starts with what it calls a “descriptive thesauraus”, where you’ll find lists of words for such descriptions as “sexual” (one option is to say “lubricious” instead) and “of little value” (for which you can say “nugatory”).

It then moves into sections on areas such as fancy language, colourful language, and characterisations. Did you know that a bum could be described as callipygous? Well, you do now.

However, this book isn’t just for those who want to use fancy words.

I usually tell clients to use simple words instead of fancy ones – but by the same token, a specific word is always better than a vague one, and this is where In a Word has helped me more times than I can count now.

Whether you’re an author describing a human noise (be it retch or roar), or a food blogger after the right adjective (be it astringent or acrid), this practical and down-to-earth guide is recommended.

Find In a Word on Amazon.


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