A couple years ago, a family member gifted me this book. Now, I don’t like to inspirit writers into using an inflated lexicon without consideration. Words are diverse, lovely things, but it is wise to remember the audience.
Is your reader going to be delighted by a surprising word? Will they be pleased by the challenge of learning something new? If the answer is yes, have fun with it (you’re writing to the best kind of readers)! If nothing else, you might be seeking out better sounds to produce a certain flow or even dissonance. Creative writing demands an artistic touch as well as a technical one, after all.
It’s on this note that I highly recommend Peter E. Meltzer’s The Thinker’s Thesaurus. You’ll find interesting alternatives to words you’re tired of using. For example: “Junoesque” over “voluptuous” or “limacine” over “lackadaisical”.
Not only are you given interesting alternatives to tired vocabulary, you might just find a bit of inspiration to bring an idea to life. This thesaurus does not simply list synonyms off, it focuses on only one alternative at a time, provides the connotations, and exemplifies the new word in use.
Let’s take a look at “voluptuous”. First of all, “voluptuous” is such a go-to word to describe a full-figured woman. You almost expect it anymore. The Thinker’s Thesaurus recommends a few alternatives.
First, “Junoesque” if you’re trying to convey a “woman, often with stately or regal bearing”. This is Juno the ancient Roman goddess, the protector of the state and queen of the gods. She also keeps watch over women. The thesaurus gives this example:
After rejections from countless modeling agencies, [Anna Nicole Smith was selected to be in Playboy magazine]. Her Junoesque appeal led straight to a three-year contract with Guess?… (People, “Anna Nicole Smith is Livin’ Large and Loving It,” 9/20/1993, p. 76.)
But if you’re simply trying to refer to someone being “busty”, the thesaurus suggests “bathycolpian” or “hypermammiferous”. These are just ridiculous ways of saying busty. I wouldn’t recommend these unless you’re trying to poke fun at largeness with large words. Junoesque suggests more than a full-figure, it embodies the power of womanliness. It says: that woman is a goddess!
And what about “limacine” over “lackadaisical”? The thesaurus simply says:
lackadaisical (as in moving like a slug) adj.: limacine. See slug
I’m already tempted. Limacine slips off the tongue more slowly and suits my meaning more already. So to “slug” I go.
Slug (of, relating to, resembling, or moving like) adj.: limacine. “The California State Board of Accountancy… has not distinguished itself… as a force of disciplining dishonest or incompetent accounting practice. It has been effectively moribund in both capacities, remaining in a limacine stupor as the profession it regulates has failed to sound the warning call…”
Now isn’t it more fun to imagine the California State Board of Accountancy as a literal slug? Not just lackadaisical (there’s almost too much whimsy in this word). Limacine is definitely more insulting, more sluggish. I like it.