Thesauri. Thesauruses. Tyranthesaurus Rex.
I was planning… something… when I typed the word “writing” into a Google search the other day. I’m not trying to be cagey, I just can’t remember what I originally planned to search for. I ended up going down a rabbit hole, instead.
After I typed “writing” into the field, Google sprouted some of its handy-dandy suggestions, and the first one on the list was “fancy word for writing.” Curiosity fully engaged, I clicked on the suggestion and ended up with results for… oh, look, it’s a thesaurus. Apparently, it’s really just as simple as “Find me a fancier word.” I don’t know why “writing” isn’t sufficiently fancy, but I also don’t know why using a bloody turn signal is so hard for people, so I may not be in the majority here.
It did lead me to an article (“14 Old-Fashioned Words for Writers“) that’s worth reading for the “murdermongress” thing, if nothing else, but I have to admit that I was attracted to the word “squibbler” when it popped up. I’m not particularly fond of its meaning, but the word itself is fun. (I’m probably just making a connection from “squibbler” to “scribbler,” which leads to “crazy chicks who hang out on the sides of buildings and kick ass,” which is something I’d very much like to be, please.)
This is what procrastination looks like.
I should feel guilty about it, but I won’t. I’ll find a way to use one of those words one of these days, and that makes it research.
Weird Google searches and procrastination (excuse me, research) aside, I love a good thesaurus. Especially when it’s on the internet and I can click from one synonym to the next until I end up with something else entirely — you can go from “write” to “chalk” to “moo juice” to “goat” to “kid” to “juvenile” to “puerile” to “petty” to “pettifogging” to “dispute” to “feud” in less than a minute. I could keep going, but “feud” felt like a pretty good place to stop, given that the word applies to at least half of my life.
(Moo juice? Really?)
My day job made us responsible for reviewing and editing everyone’s web content at one point, because my job title is “Designated Villain.” (Not really, but it might as well be.) My good friend the thesaurus helped immensely during this time, because there were moments when we were being attacked on all sides by offended employees, and we had to take refuge behind every reference book we could get our hands on. (Dictionaries do make lovely bricks for building battlements along the tops of cubicle walls, but they can’t do the whole job alone.) We were supposed to make sure that everything was written as simply and clearly as possible, but I don’t think we ever managed to get rid of those pesky “prior to”s. But that was nothing — nothing — compared to the cold war that started over “may” vs. “can”.
There was a thing going around on Facebook recently. One of those copy-and-fill-in-your-answers things. This one was about high school. One of the questions was, “Did you follow the career path you wanted?”
Look, in high school, I was clearly a dumbass. I loved reading, writing, and computers. Be careful what you wish for, because I ended up as a coder/designer who also has to police the reading level on eighteen zillion instructions pages, and, incidentally, writes fiction in her spare time. I go to bed every night clutching a thesaurus and wake up every morning screaming things like, “It’s not talking down to anyone, it’s MAKING THINGS EASIER FOR EVERYBODY!” and that’s kind of hard to explain to normal people.
Not that I know any so-called “normal people”, but you never know. I might meet one someday, and I’d hate to have to explain myself.