posted by Arts Intern Matthew Vollono
Attention all writers, bloggers, pretentious ransom note composers, and anyone else looking to better their writing with esoteric words designed to make you look smart: the latest version of the Oxford American Writers Thesaurus, is the best edition of the book yet printed.
In addition to the usual grammatical hijinks, there's an introduction by Rick Moody, along with Word Notes (comments from contributing writers about word entries) by Erin McKean, Stephin Merritt, Zadie Smith, Simon Winchester, and Francine Prose (among others).
Besides being insightful, Word Notes have a unique way of bringing a writer's own thought process to the surface by way of their passion for the English language.
Take this entry from David Foster Wallace on the word "pulchritude":
“A paradoxical noun because it means beauty but is itself one of the ugliest words in the language. Same goes for the adjectival form pulchritudinous. They’re part of a tiny elite cadre of words that possess the very opposite of the qualities they denote. Diminutive, big, foreign, fancy (adjective), colloquialism, and monosyllabic are some others; there are at least a dozen more. Inviting your school-age kids to list as many paradoxical words as they can is a neat way to deepen their relationship to English and help them see that words are both symbols for things and very real things themselves.”
from the OUP Blog
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