Quick Tip #5: Expanding your Repertoire, Range, Variety…etc.

If you remember back to Quick Tip #4, we talked about how beginning writers should practice first writing what they know and feeling confident expressing themselves in simpler, more direct ways.  But what about intermediate writers looking to spread their literary wings?


Thankfully, as described in a recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, you now have a chance to augment your vocabulary with a new online resource.  Green’s Dictionary of Slang features more than 130,000 unique slang words or common terms.

Why is this service better than just searching for standard synonyms in a word document? For one, Green offers “500 years of slang from c. 1500 onwards” so you can swap Shakespearean insults with your favorite English majors.


But more importantly, it also offers words that might better fit the meaning of your paper.  Let’s imagine you’re writing a paper in which you are to argue either the pros or cons of a modern mass medium and you’ve chosen television.  You will need to keep referencing the word “television” in your paper but realize that repeating this word will quickly become monotonous.

In Word, the only synonyms provided are: “TV, box, Google-box, and Tube.” None of these words really evoke any type of response in a reader.  But in Green’s Dictionary, a world of options awaits: not only can you reference it as the “telly” (a term that first appeared in the 1930s), but you also discover that a “telespud” is another way of saying “couch potato,” a term that you might think of off the top of your head, but may prove useful in this context.  Plus, while these terms may inspire more research into how long society has been obsessed with TV, you also might create a clever title like this: “On Teletubbies* and Telespuds: The influence of the ‘Idiot Box’ in America.” Your paper already seems interesting and you haven’t even written your introduction yet!


So, in short, happy searching…(just keep in mind that some of our language’s “dirty laundry” might not be the most appropriate phrases for your papers)!

*You’ll need to be clear you’re referencing the popular children’s show and not using it to refer to one’s husband as was popular in the 1990s.



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