…Which is another word for irritating

The animals that live in my house are bothering me tonight.  (Well, okay, it’s two of the three.  Fish aren’t really capable of much annoyance.)

I mentioned to my dog at one point that he was being irksome; I then told him (since he clearly didn’t know) that it was another word for irritating.  I then started to list other fun synonyms that he could be: annoying, bothersome, a pest.

It did make me laugh at myself a bit, since I was defining a word for my dog.  It also got me thinking about synonyms!

If you are a writer, you should have a thesaurus.  I happen to use one online, rather than a print one, but it works just as well.  Better, perhaps, because then I don’t have to go fetch it when I need a word!  It is quite handy when you are trying to describe something; I also depend on it when I am hoping to avoid using the same word multiple times in a paragraph.

Of course, I don’t recommend that you use it inappropriately.  Trying to find the biggest word possible for something is not the same as choosing the best synonym.  Let’s take an example of describing a woman wearing a red dress.  “Her body was sheathed in skin-hugging scarlet” gives you a pretty specific image.  “The ingenue was caparisoned in a frock of cerise” just sounds pretentious.  Plus, if you know what the words mean (and their typical use) the combination doesn’t exactly work.  If that happens, you either end up looking like you don’t know what you’re doing (which is probably the opposite of what you were looking for) or your character ends up seeming very silly.

A thesaurus can be awesome for finding the best word for your sentence, but remember that even synonyms have different tones and slightly different meanings.  Knowledgeable readers will know the subtle difference between dauntless and stalwart, and the word you choose can impact the impression they have of the character you are describing.