November 1, 2012

Thesaurus of Alternatives to Worn-Out Words and Phrases **

** Thesaurus of Alternatives to Worn-Out Words and Phrases, Robert Hartwell Fiske, 1994

My mom got this for me at a garage sale or some such a year ago. I gave it the upstairs bathroom position, reading the 310 pages in two or four page chunks.

I mainly skimmed through the phrases to keep fresh in my mind what not to use. After the first few pages, I didn't read much of the alternatives copy.

It's good to remind yourself occasionally of the cliches and tired terminology you use without thinking of it, so you can toss that out and create something fresh. However, Fiske's tone is snobbish, with didactic pronouncements such as:

Infantile phrases are popular among adolescents--and dimwits who still think like them.
Ineffectual phrases add only to our being ineffectual people.
If it weren't for our plethora of metaphors, especially sports images, dimwitted men and, even women would be far less able to articulate their thoughts. 

Hence the skimming. I can use the list without the condescension.


Mark Spyrison said...
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Mark Spyrison said...

I've always felt most misuse the words "plethora" and "myriad" since, from my understanding, both words mean something along the lines of "a great number" or "a host of". So I figure the sentences should read, "Myriad frescos covered the walls" or "The musak piping from the zoo's speakers set plethora staffers dancing." Admittedly, that second one needs work.

Brad Whittington said...

You're correct on the first count, wrong on the second.

Myriad means "many" so you don't use "of" with it.

Plethora means "excess" so you do use "of" with it.

Mark Spyrison said...