Forgotten Synonyms You Should Be Using

In elementary school, young writers are given a list of words to use in essays and stories. And somehow since then, we continue to rely on these words over and over and over. As your trusted source for miraculous, phenomenal, and surely stupendous words, this makes us ... distressed.

Creating an engaging story means giving the boot to words like beautiful, happy, or awesome because these words can make writing feel stagnant. On the other hand, when a writer creates a scene for the reader to live in, using too many difficult words could alienate the person they meant to captivate.

It's complicated. That's why we've gathered these synonyms to help spice up your writing without leaving your readers feeling like they're browsing through the thesaurus. (That's your job!)

Stupendous

Consider the word awesome's definition: "causing or inducing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence." The way we use awesome now is far removed from that grand feeling.

WATCH: Has "Awesome" Become Awful?

Instead of awesome, try stupendous: "causing amazement; astounding; marvelous." It isn't overused (as awesome is) and inspires a more colorful picture.

For example: The rolling, vibrant hills of the landscape are truly stupendous. Who wouldn't want to look at that scenery?

Beguiling

Beautiful has its place and is in no way a light compliment, but there are so many good synonyms to use instead.

For the right character, our favorite—beguilingmight be a good choice. The definition of beguiling as an adjective is "charming or enchanting, often in a deceptive way." To beguile is "to influence or charm."

This word implies someone is beautiful, but there's also a hint of mysticism to it. A beguiling character might be a villain with unmistakable charm, or someone who is romantically out of reach: She should have resisted his compliments, no matter how beguiling his charm.

Exceedingly

There's nothing wrong with the word very. But when it shows up a little too often, it can quickly become repetitive and boring. If you're not ready to rewrite sentences to exclude this kind of modifier, use some other adverbs that pack a bit more punch.

Exceedingly is a close synonym for very and makes the writing around it seem more immediate: You need to be exceedingly careful crossing that bridge. Or, the prince seems to be in exceedingly good spirits tonight!

Vacillate

We can all be undecided, or tossed up, or torn about something ... and these phrases are just fine to use in a piece of writing, but, fun fact, vacillate is a single word that can replace all of the above.

From the Latin vacillō, for "sway or waver," vacillate means "to waver in mind or opinion; to be indecisive."

In a sentence, it looks like: Rather than offer a decisive opinion, the committee continued to vacillate.

Ghoulish

The word bad is complex and it has a lot of meanings, which is why there are lots of places for it to exist in a piece of interesting writing. But, bad can usually be replaced with a variety of words to describe all sorts of situations or characters with more detail as well.

Although it sounds like a word strictly created for Halloween, ghoulish is an example of a good synonym for bad. This adjective means "strangely diabolical or cruel."

Using ghoulish in your writing, whether in a creative piece or a work of nonfiction, will let readers know the exact tone you're setting: The ghoulish laughter unnerved us. Bwa-ha-ha.

Omnipresent

Here, there, everywhere! Everywhere is an accurate way to describe, well, everything. While some writers have a tendency to overuse it, there is a different, more specific, word that comes to mind when looking for a synonym to use.

Enter omnipresent. Made up of omni, meaning "all," and present, something that is omnipresent can be felt or seen everywhere.

Try replacing everywhere with ominipresent in this sentence: The feeling of love was everywhere during Valentine's Day.

Minutiae

Minutiae, or minutia, means precise (or trifling) details. It comes from the Latin minūtia for "smallness." This noun can be used to replace the word details. While details is a perfectly fine word, minutiae shows you're really into your vocabulary (and not in a bad way!).

Here are two examples of how minutiae could be used:

  • The minutiae of running the play fell on the shoulders of the stage manager.
  • He wasn't concerned with the minutiae of how the money got into his account; he only cared that he now possessed it.

Flagrant

With a few handy changes in phrasing, you can substitute the mundane word: offensive with flagrant, which means "shockingly noticeable or evident."

You might doubt these two words could be synonyms, but watch how you can use flagrant in a sentence: The flagrant disregard toward the law landed the perpetrator in jail. That sure has much more impact than this: The perpetrator's disregard for the law was offensive.

Despondent

The word hopeless is actually a tad hopeless. It conveys the feeling without adding any color to the writing itself.

If you need to describe a character that's down on their luck, or a situation where there's no light at the end of the tunnel, try using despondent instead: At the time, the patient was far too despondent to eat or even converse.Despondent, by definition, is "feeling or showing profound hopelessness or dejection." This word was first logged in the 1690s through the 1700s.

Machiavellian

Cunning is a good word for a villain or a politician. But if you want to elicit a stronger image, one that captures corrupt motivations as well, have we got the word for you!

Machiavellian describes someone who is cunning, sometimes dishonest, and always thinking of their best interests.

Italian diplomat Nicolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince, a treatise on how being immoral can help one gain influence. His writing is known for its ruthlessness in applied and philosophical politics. It can be summed up by the famous quote: "It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both."

How to use this word, you ask? Our miserly boss is the perfect example of a Machiavellian businessman.

Rarefied

Special is another word that can be spiced up to specifically color the context it's in.

That's why we like the adjective rarefied, meaning "extremely high or elevated, or lofty," which can be slotted into special's slot with some hard work.

Take this sentence as an example: The space in the ancient cathedral felt rarefied, as opposed to something in the ancient cathedral felt special.In this case, the word rarefied gives the reader a better grasp of how it felt to be inside and specifies what's so special about it.

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