Take your pick for this week's blog title as they are mean the same thing, just like synonyms. Using synonyms is not exclusive to the English language but because English encompasses terms from so many others, the pot of like words to pick from is bountiful. Synonyms are those beautiful words that can add color or vibrance to your work. Or, as my daddy says, "You use a synonym when you don't know how to spell the word you want."
There are reasons other than lack of being able to spell a word to use synonyms. An article (or blog) could be tedious to read if the same word kept popping up in every sentence. Using a synonym gives a piece variety, depth, and an escape from the mundane. Another reason, you might seek out a synonym is the word you are about to use doesn't quite fit what you are trying to convey. A particular word might show the degree of happiness or sadness, and one word might be better than another but basically mean the same thing. Let's look at "glad" and "happy" for an example.
On a scale of positivity, happy will be higher than glad but let's look more at their meanings. Glad is content. You would use "glad" when you found out something good happened to someone close to you. "I'm glad you got the promotion." Happy is feeling joy. You would use "happy" when something fortunate has happened to yourself. "I'm so happy, I won the lottery!" "Happy" is closer to ecstatic than "glad," and is more personal. You most likely do not even think about how you use each word. It probably just flows naturally. If you wanted to try an experiment, stop yourself the next time you use one and consider if the other would fit as well. I believe you will find the one you chose first fit best and the level of joy will be the discriminating factor on which one you used.
"Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule."
― Stephen King
You might find yourself reaching for a thesaurus to find the "perfect word" in any given situation. Stephen King said, "Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule." Without context, one might think he is opposed to synonyms. This is not what he was implying. What Mr. King is pointing out is we should use the vocabulary we own. Trying to "sound smarter" or using words we would not usually use does not sound authentic. Besides, our first choice was probably the word best suited all along. (His statement has infuriated some, myself included as I tend to use my thesaurus now and then. With that in mind, I rarely use a found word that wasn't already in my arsenal. Also, I understand what Mr. King is conveying by wanting a writer to be authentic. That said, I am a firm believer in "exceptions" because nothing on earth is 100% black or white. So the "no exceptions" part is what specifically irked me.) Regarding enlarging one's vocabulary, he suggests the best way (to increase your choice of synonyms) is to read! Read everything; read often. I agree with this 100%!
Synonyms are a wonderful tool in creating stories and conveying ideas. Sometimes they are essential. Those whose native language is not English may not understand a particular word. Finding a similar word in order to communicate your meaning would assist exponentially in creating a harmonious dialogue. Having the ability and vocabulary to exchange words helps us to get across what we really want to say, the feeling in our hearts, and shows the remarkable versatility of our language. For everything that might infuriate us about English, there is so much to relish in.
National Women's History Month.
This week's honor goes to Susan B. Anthony. (Click the link to read her biography.) She died one year before my grandmother was born and did not live to see women get the right to vote. In 1979 a dollar coin was issued with her likeness. My grandmother bought and gave each of her grandchildren one of these coins. I remember it very vividly, the feeling I had when she gave us the coins, I was only 9 but I remember being well aware that there was not any money with the image of a woman on it. She was the first as far as I knew then. (Apparently she was the first woman on a U.S. coin. However, Lucy Holcombe Pickens, "Queen of the Confederacy" was depicted on Confederate $1 bills of 1862 and 1863 and the $100 bill of 1862 - 1864. Pocahontas was depicted on the back of U.S. paper money from 1865 to 1869 and Martha Washington was on the front of the $1 Silver Certificates 1886, 1891, and on the back with her husband, 1896.)
I remember feeling so proud and thinking this must have been an important and strong woman to deserve this honor. There was no "Google" in 1979, but my parents had a set of encyclopedias and my mom would take us to the West Falls Library. I spent a lot of time learning about Anthony's fight for women's right to vote. I could not wait to turn 18 so I could use the right Susan B. Anthony fought for and never reaped the rewards of her fight. She fought for me, for my mother, my daughter, and all the women of America. Above is a quote from her last women's suffrage convention the year she died, click on it to read her write-up in the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Love Lots; Smile Often,