The difference between the almost right word and the right word is “the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain turned that phrase 120 years ago and it’s still applicable. In fact, many writers will tell you the hardest part of the job is finding the most appropriate noun or verb for a given sentence. The reason is because we aim to avoid clichés, meaning we’re constantly challenging ourselves to be inventive in ways beyond concocting plots and characters.
Whether you’re a journalist, public relations professional or author of literary fiction, expanding your vocabulary is fundamental to improving the quality of your work. If you believe writing involves craftsmanship then language is the toolbox to accomplishment. As with any field, the practitioners who best know how to use their tools will be able to differentiate themselves. Besides the thesaurus, other reference books that will help you grow as a wordsmith include “The Flip Dictionary”, “Word and Phrase Origins” and “Roget’s Super Thesaurus”. These texts go beyond dictionary definitions, giving you etymological information as well as colloquial phrases in addition to traditional synonyms.