Mary May Larmoyeux, Uncategorized

Four ways to find the right word

by Mary May Larmoyeux

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word,” Mark Twain said, “is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

… and it’s the difference between lightning (bolt of electricity) and lightening (making lighter).

As writers, it’s important to find just the right word! Here are four ways that I attempt to do just that:

1) Look words up in Visual Thesaurus: A few years ago I discovered the website Visual Thesaurus ( Regular users pay an annual subscription, but you can try it out on a trial basis.

2) Go to This is not only an online dictionary, but also a thesaurus.

3) Read out loud: Sometimes I don’t realize that I’m using the wrong word until I read my piece out loud. Often the wrong word will seem to jump from the page, almost saying “replace me!”

4) Choose the simple word instead of the complex: My father first told me this tip. He said, “Why use a million-dollar word when a simpler one will do?” The purpose of our writing is to communicate in a way that readers will understand.

How do you find the “perfect” word?

© Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.
Photo © Mats Tooming / Dreamstime Stock Photos

Read More:

Three Favorite Books About Writing

Guideposts Writers Workshop Contest

My Writing Life: Taking Chances, Making Mistakes, and Getting Messy

Writing With a Day Job

Writing the Ideal, and Those Dreaded, Awful, Yucky, Mucky Rewrites


3 thoughts on “Four ways to find the right word”

  1. I agree – reading out loud helps me find the perfect word, especially when I’m in doubt about it.. Also, having someone else read my stuff really helps me see if I’m communicating what I want to say. Good tips, Mary.


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