New Writers Words with Caitlin Durante: Vocabulary

Caitlin Durante

Just as genes are the building blocks of life, and Legos are the building blocks of Lego castles, words are the building blocks of storytelling. It may go without saying, then, that a writer with a larger vocabulary has more materials with which to tell their story. Diction, or word choice, is important to consider if a writer wants to keep their readers engaged. Writing that is too repetitive and stale will quickly leave audiences detached and disinterested. So the more words an author has tucked away in their brain, the more rich and diverse their prose will likely be.

As an avid reader, I constantly encounter unfamiliar words. As a person who fancies herself a writer, I constantly feel the need to expand my vocabulary. I combined these two concepts and began a fairly effective word-learning effort. I started compiling a list of the words I came across that I didn’t know. I included a definition, and to further ensure I would commit the word to memory, I wrote a sentence using each word. Here are a few that I would like to share for entertainment and educational purposes.

extricate (v): to free or release from entanglement; disengage

Hermione used her super magic skills to extricate Harry and Ron when they were caught in the Devil’s Snare.

innocuous (adj): not harmful or injurious; harmless; not likely to offend

The rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail seemed innocuous at first, but it was actually a murderous fiend. 

interminable (adj): incapable of being terminated; unending

The Never Ending Story‘s title would suggest that the movie is interminable, but it’s really only like 100 minutes long.

ostensible (adj): outwardly appearing as such; apparent; evident

The sexual tension between Buffy and Spike was so ostensible that you could stake it in the heart

predilection (n): a tendency to think favorably of something in particular; preference

I have always had a strong predilection for space and time travel movies.

repudiate (v): to reject with disapproval, condemnation, or denial

I completely repudiate the ridiculous idea that Bella would choose Edward over Jacob. Team Jacob!

sagacious (adj): having or showing acute mental discernment and keen practical sense; shrewd

Sherlock Holmes was totally sagacious in his crime solving skills.

sumptuous (adj): entailing great expense, fine work, costly, lavish

John Hammond made sure Jurassic Park was very sumptuous—he spared no expense.

surreptitious (adj):obtained, done, made, etc., by stealth; secret or unauthorized

Indiana Jones was surreptitious when he replaced the ancient idol with a bag of sand.

It’s important to note that it is not a good idea to be too verbose and use too many “fancy” words, as it will only make your writing clunky and lack fluidity. As long as you’re using words like surreptitious sparingly, you’ll sound just smart enough that people will respect you without thinking you’re a pretentious dweeb. Now go bask in your newfound enlightenment after reading this article, and when you’re done with that, write something!


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