Words you should use as often as possible

Try these terms to spice up your text without chasing readers away.

Have you ever used the words “peripatetic” or “crepuscular” in casual conversation? If so, you may be an English lit graduate student—or a dedicated reader of the Reader’s Digest “Increase Your Word Power” column. Or maybe you think such words lend a welcome air of sophistication to your writing.

Think again. Obscure words—even though they are interesting and accurate—will often send your readers running in the other direction.

I received a terrific email on this subject from a colleague who colorfully describes these as “million-dollar words.” Though I lament the scourge of inflation (when I was a kid they were known as $10 words), I applaud the sentiment.

My friend went on to make an even more interesting point. “There are also thousand-dollar words that ought to be used as often as possible,” he said. “Instead of writing ‘laugh,’ we should use ‘roar,’ ‘guffaw,’ ‘chortle,’ ‘chuckle,’ or ‘giggle.'”

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.