Have you ever felt the need to use big, long words to sound more authoritative or to fill up space? In most situations, all you are doing is sounding more difficult to read. Your writing should be as simple and easy-flowing as possible.
This is a problem our manuscript editors often encounter: sesquipedalian words where a simple word would do.
Let’s look at three very common words that are overused and should be replaced with simpler ones.
UTILIZE. Wow, just three syllables to replace one. Honestly, have you ever heard anyone utilize this word in normal conversation, like at in the stands at the ball game or over a mid-week lunch?
“Hey, dude. Wait up. I just need to go utilize the washroom.”
“He just wanted me for my money. I feel so utilized.”
“It’s easy to choose a password, but all the best utilizer names are already taken.”
Yes, there is a much simpler word to use: use. And “use” is a fine word, even if it doesn’t sound pretentious.
Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious!
If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious “
PURCHASE. More pretentiousness, perhaps? I go out to buy things, not to purchase them. How about you? Why do we need an extra syllable? Because a lot of advertisers think you will spend more money if they sound more educated an fancy? Or because they want to avoid you feeling like you are being pressured into buying things. So instead they pressure you into purchasing things.
Phew – that’s a relief.
ACQUIRE. This is the word that inspired this article, after I read the following message that somebody posted on the Warrior Forum :
In one of my titles, I had a confusion of whether to use “get customers” or “acquire customers”.
The former is simple but the later looks more sophisticated.
Google Search Says:
“acquire customers” 283,000 results
“get customers” 1,500,000 results!
So now the choice is obvious. I don’t want to look sophisticated. I just want to CONNECT with the readers with the right titles.
“Acquire” is another laughable word that people just don’t use in normal conversation. Can you imagine…
“Please, Daddy, can I acquire another candy.”
“The phone is ringing. Can somebody please acquire the phone?”
“I need to acquire some new light bulbs. This one is burnt and I’ve run out of replacements.”
Whether you are writing a book or a blog post, you want to connect with your readers. And unless you are writing a sales page for an expand-your-vocabulary course, it is almost always the simpler word. Or put more bluntly, the world with the least syllables. The smaller word, not the littler word.