Tag Archives: right words

The Thesaurus: Use or Shun?

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word.  There are no exceptions to this rule.”–Stephen King

“The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”–Mark Twain

It’s not clear that these quotes from two fine American authors are antithetical.  I believe that Mr. King would agree with Mr. Twain that the right word is preferable to the almost-right word.  At the same time, he condemns the use of a thesaurus to divine that word.  Presumably that means that he carries all the right words in his head or, if a word is not in his head, it can’t be right.  Mr. Twain says nothing about a thesaurus, but he is emphatic about finding the right word, leading one to conclude that a writer should consult whatever source is necessary to find it. Continue reading