Tips about Choice of Words in Writing

Published on April 6th, 2013 by | Category: Writing

There is usually a chapter on ‘choice of words’ in books on writing. If you get the right attitude towards writing and do a considerable amount of practice you will have no particular difficulty about choosing the right words. In any case it’s more a matter of choosing the right ideas than the right words.

What you certainly ought to do, however, is to discipline yourself in the matter of new words by consulting the dictionary about any word which is strange to you. The dictionary — a good dictionary — will tell you how that word is normally used; it will also give you a note on the derivation of the word and very often that can be very useful indeed.

You certainly need to build up your writing vocabulary. Naturally, the more limited your vocabulary is, the less choice you have. The best way of increasing the number of words at your command is to read widely, consulting the dictionary whenever you are in doubt. Now for a short exercise.


In each of the items below one word is left out. After each item a choice of words is given. One of these words is the one used by the writer of the sentence quoted. See if you can pick the same one as he did.

1. I want to go south, where there is no autumn, where the cold does not ……… over one like a snow-leopard waiting to pounce. (D. H. Lawrence)

hang crouch lurk linger

2. So have I ……….. my life away, reading books, looking at pictures, going to plays, hearing, thinking; writing on what pleased me best. (W. Hazlitt)

loitered squandered dallied wasted

3. Mathematics possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty told and ………….., like that of sculpture. (Bertrand Russell)

chill ascetic austere controlled

4. A rolling stone gathers no moss, but it gains a certain ………….. (Oliver Herford)

polish reputation shape character

5. His studies were pursued but never …………… overtaken. (H. U. Wells)

really successfully fully effectually

6. Kings are not born; they are made by universal …………… (G. B. Shaw)

hallucination acclaim consent tradition

7. As a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written, you have no idea what …………… it will give your style. (Samuel Butler)

grace directness clarity vigour

8. The man who can’t tell a lie thinks he is the best judge of ……………… (Mark Twain)

truth honesty one integrity

9. He wrote brilliant English until he discovered ………………

Oscar Wilde

French grammar style politics

10. Why don’t you get a hair-cut; you look like a ………………… (P. G. Wodehouse)

golliwog mop chrysanthemum tramp


1.crouch. 2. loitered. 3. austere. 4. polish. 5. effectually. 6. hallucination. 7. vigour. 8. one. 9. grammar. 10. chrysanthemum.

2 thoughts on “Tips about Choice of Words in Writing

  1. Any

    Hi Vahid,

    When you write an article you write it in WordPress editor directly or you write it e.g. in Microsoft Word then you paste it into WordPress editor? I read that the second way is not too good.


    1. Vahid Post author

      Hi Any,

      I write in WordPress editor directly. It is much easier, faster and safer. It automatically saves the article, so that you will not lose anything.


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