Word Lists

When you are writing, you are always looking to improve your prose and dialogue., and that distinction is a one that you need to consider.
There are words that authors should avoid and some that should be use sparingly.
When I fist started out, I found that many authors had posted lists of words that fall into this category. I read these with interest but when I started to compile a 'master list' of these words, I found a considerable differences.
AdverbsConjunctionDefaultFilter WordIndecisiveMy Common ErrorsPassive VoicePoor PhraseVague NounWeak AdjectiveWeak VerbWeasel Word

Poor Phrase - A poor short phrase

As much as - Very poor phrase.


Bald headed - Redundant phrase. You don’t need headed. Ex: He was bald-headed. Better: He was bald.


Be able to - Be able to: be capable of, be equal to, be up to the task, can, could, have the ability to, have what it takes to


Came to the - Example: I came to the realisation that... Better: I realised that


Catch-22 - TBA


Has been - Also potential passive voice.


Have been - Also potential passive voice.


Have to be - This was included in cliches but not sure what the issue is with this phrase.


Kind Of - “Using these words is sort of annoying to the reader.” Reason: If using these words is only sort of annoying, you haven’t told the reader exactly what it is. If it is annoying, say so: “Writing this way annoys the reader.” If it is not annoying, tell the reader exactly what it is, e.g., “Using these words bothers readers.” Use words that mean what you are trying to say, and give the reader exact descriptions. This also applies to “kind of.”


One Of - It is either the most important or not. It’s either the best or not. Avoid saying “one of the most important,” “one of the best.”


Sat down - when used with Sat, the Down is implied and uneccessary.


Sit Down - Sit infers down.


Sort Of - “Using these words is sort of annoying to the reader.” Reason: If using these words is only sort of annoying, you haven’t told the reader exactly what it is. If it is annoying, say so: “Writing this way annoys the reader.” If it is not annoying, tell the reader exactly what it is, e.g., “Using these words bothers readers.” Use words that mean what you are trying to say, and give the reader exact descriptions. This also applies to “kind of.”


Stand Up - Stand infers up.


Stood up - when someomen stands, the up is uneccessary as it is implied.


There are - 'There are' is an empty phrase that did not add anything to the original sentence. Example: There are three things that you need to remember: close the window, lock the door, and bring the cake. Better: Remember these three things: close the window, lock the door, and bring the cake.


To be - The phrase 'to be' often is used in clauses that have 'passive voice'


Used to - “He used to write like this when he started writing.” Reason: Using fewer words to express an idea is almost always a good idea, so “used to write” can be written “wrote,” as in, “He wrote like this when he started writing.” The problem is that “used to write” and “when he started writing” both express events in the past, which is redundant. In nearly every case, “used to . . .” can be replaced with a past tense verb.


Filter Word - A filter word for one of the 5 senses.

Believes - TBA


Decide - Words of this type filter the reader from the narative.


Decided - Words of this type filter the reader from the narative.


Desires - TBA


Experience - Words of this type filter the reader from the narative.


Experienced - Words of this type filter the reader from the narative.


Feel - Added From File


Felt - The author provides the feeling whereas a better sentence will allow the reader to experiences the sense.


Hate - Filtering the emotion from the reader. Show the character hates the subject.


Hear - Hear: catch, eavesdrop, overhear, listen to, sound, sound like


Heard - Hear: catch, eavesdrop, overhear, listen to, sound, sound like


Imagines - TBA


Knew - Added From File


Know - Know: ascertain, assume, believe, bring to mind, decide, deem, discover, gather, get, glean, guess, infer, intuit, learn, posit, regard, remember, suspect, think, understand, wonder


Look - They filter the events through the readers’s perceptions. The corporal saw a grenade fly by and land in the foxhole. A grenade flew by the corporal and landed in the foxhole.


Looked - They filter the events through the readers’s perceptions. The corporal saw a grenade fly by and land in the foxhole. A grenade flew by the corporal and landed in the foxhole.


Love - TBA


Note - Words of this type filter the reader from the narative.


Noted - Words of this type filter the reader from the narative.


Notice - Added From File


Noticed - Added From File


Quiet - It was very quiet. Better: All sound had stilled into a mute silence.


Rather - Added From File


Realise - Added From File


Realised - Added From File


Really - Filler modifier. Try to do without, or think of a more powerful word you are modifying. Example: I’m really hungry. Better: I’m starving.


Remember - Added From File


Remembered - Added From File


Sad - Filters the emotion away from the reader. Show the effects of sadness rather than telling the reader that someone/situation is sad.


saw - Added From File


See - Added From File


Seem - Added From File


Seemed - Added From File


Seems - Added From File


Seen - TBA


Shock - Filters the emotion from the reader. Show the effects of shock rather than telling it was shocking.


Smell - Smell: detect the smell of, diagnose, get a whiff of, scent, smell like, whiff


Somehow - Added From File


Somewhat - Added From File


Surprise - Words of this type filter the reader from the narative.


Taste - Filters the sense experience from the Reader. "She could taste bile rising into her throat." "..., and bitter bile burned her throat. "


Think - TBA


Touch - Added From File


Touched - Added From File


Understand - TBA


Wants - TBA


Watch - Added From File


Watched - Added From File


Wonder - Removing readers from the introspection and adding useless words


Wondered - Removing readers from the introspection and adding useless words


Weasel Word - Word to avoid - Not neccessary and clutters prose - Ok in dialogue sometimes.

Every - tba


Fairly - Indecisive and poor description.


Just - Weasel words" are a colloquial term for words or phrases used to avoid being forthright. Weasel words are used when the speaker wants to make it seem like they've given a clear answer to a question or made a direct statement, when actually they've said something inconclusive or vague.


Quite - Indecisive and poor word use.


That - In most circumstances, this word can be cut from the dialogue. Remove it, and if the sentence still makes sense, it was unnecessary.


Together - tba


Adverbs - Adverbs are words that usually modify, limit or restrict the meaning of Verbs.

Accordingly - Use simpler replacement, such as so. Ex: Accordingly, be careful next time. Better: So, be careful next time.


Actually - TBA


Again - Overview of adv again The adv again has 1 sense (first 1 from tagged texts) 1. (249) again, once again, once more, over again -- (anew; "she tried again"; "they rehearsed the scene again")


Basicially - Added From File


Certainly - TBA


Clearly - TBA


Extremely - Added From File


Finally - Weak linking term. Be more precise. Ex: Finally, he got the job. Better: After five interviews, he got the job.


Frequently - Imprecise Phrase. Use something more specific. Ex: I frequently wash my car. Better: I wash my car daily.


Hardly - adsf


Likely - Added From File


Literally - TBA


Moderately - Added From File


Most - The adj most has 2 senses (first 2 from tagged texts) 1. (76) most -- ((superlative of `many' used with count nouns and often preceded by `the') quantifier meaning the greatest in number; "who has the most apples?"; "most people like eggs"; "most fishes have fins") 2. (26) most -- (the superlative of `much' that can be used with mass nouns and is usually preceded by `the'; a quantifier meaning the greatest in amount or extent or degree; "made the most money he could"; "what attracts the most attention?"; "made the most of a bad deal") Overview of adv most The adv most has 3 senses (first 3 from tagged texts) 1. (180) most, to the highest degree -- (used to form the superlative; "the king cobra is the most dangerous snake") 2. (63) most -- (very; "a most welcome relief") 3. (1) about, almost, most, nearly, near, nigh, virtually, well-nigh -- ((of actions or states) slightly short of or not quite accomplished; all but; "the job is (just) about done"; "the baby was almost asleep when the alarm sounded"; "we're almost finished"; "the car all but ran her down"; "he nearly fainted"; "talked for nigh onto 2 hours"; "the recording is well-nigh perfect"; "virtually all the parties signed the contract"; "I was near exhausted by the run"; "most everyone agrees")


Nearly - TBA


Probably - Added From File


Reasonably - Added From File


Relatively - Added From File


Simply - TBA


Suddenly - Added From File


Unfortunately - Normally at the start or end of a sentence.


Usually - Added From File


Virtually - Added From File


Indecisive - The word is being specific enough about the subject matter

Almost - Consider replacing with a more definate word or change the phrase. Overview of adv almost 1. (175) about, almost, most, nearly, near, nigh, virtually, well-nigh -- ((of actions or states) slightly short of or not quite accomplished; all but; "the job is (just) about done"; "the baby was almost asleep when the alarm sounded"; "we're almost finished"; "the car all but ran her down"; "he nearly fainted"; "talked for nigh onto 2 hours"; "the recording is well-nigh perfect"; "virtually all the parties signed the contract"; "I was near exhausted by the run"; "most everyone agrees")


As - “As you write this word, poke out your eyes. It’s weak as it can cause confusion.” Reason: A person usually cannot do two actions simultaneously, so “as” doesn’t make sense in the first sentence. It could be rewritten, “Write this word, then poke out your eyes.” In the second sentence, the writer should use “because.” Until reading the rest of the sentence, the reader doesn’t know if “as” means two actions are occurring simultaneously or means “because.”


Big - Weak adjective. Replace with something more precise. Example: He was a big man. Better: He was six feet tall and 250 pounds.


Can - Consider replacing with a more definate word or change the phrase.


Could - Consider replacing with a more definate word or change the phrase.


Got - Consider using the word sparingly. Ex: “She got to her feet,” Better: "She leapt/jumped/climbed/hurried to her feet.” Anything to show better action.


Like - “Using these words is like baking with spoiled milk.” Reason: If this is like something, then it is NOT that thing. Giving accurate descriptions and using correct verbs will reduce your need to use “like,” e.g., “These words spoil your writing.” A good metaphor can enhance your writing, but using too many makes writing tedious, so try to think of a different way to express your ideas.


Lot - Use a word with more definite description of the quantities involved.


Many - Many is indecisive and should be replaced with a more descriptive or accurate word or phrase.


May - Consider replacing with a more definate word or change the phrase.


Might - Consider replacing with a more definate word or change the phrase.


Never - Replace with a more decisive word.


Nice - Your character can’t have “nice” hair. Tell the reader if it’s long, short, blonde, blue or whatever. The same for eyes. I hate reading that someone has nice eyes. How were they nice? What color are they? Are they almond shaped, large, small, hooded, intelligent? With a little imagination any writer can come up with more.


Often - Added From File


Short - Replace with something more precise. Ex: Bob was a short man. Better: Bob was four feet tall.


Small - Weak Adjective. Replace with something more precise. Ex: My desk is small. Better: My desk is only three feet wide.


Some - Added From File


Soon - Soon, shortly, presently, before long -- (in the near future; "the doctor will soon be here"; "the book will appear shortly"; "she will arrive presently"; "we should have news before long")


Sound - Consider replacing with a more definate word or change the phrase.


Tall - Weak Adjective. Replace with something more precise. Ex: The building is tall. Better: The building is six hundred feet tall.


Very - Use a stronger word that 'very' is modifying. Ex: I was very scared. Better: I was petrified.


Passive Voice - State of being words

Are - Potential passive voice.


Be - Potential passive voice.


Being - Potential passive voice.


By - Potential use of passive voice.


Is - Potential passive voice.


Was - Potential passive voice.


Were - Potential passive voice.


My Common Errors - Words that I commonly use that need checking

Breathe - Words that I commonly misspell


Clothes - Common errors that I need to check in my writing.


Cloths - Common errors that I need to check in my writing.


It's - Common errors that I need to check in my writing.


Its - Common errors that I need to check in my writing.


Though - Common errors that I need to check in my writing.


Through - Common errors that I need to check in my writing.


Weak Verb - Replace with a stronger verb.

Attempt - Use simpler replacement, such as try. This word can be an example of nominalization too (verb or adjective turned into a noun). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Attempt it again. Better: Try again. Ex: His attempt at suicide was met with failure. Better: He attempted suicide but failed.


Belief - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: It’s his belief that editing can be done with ease. Better: He believes editing is easy.


Brilliance - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: Not all posts achieve brilliance. Better: Not all posts are brilliant.


Comparison - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: He made a comparison between apples and oranges. Better: He compared apples with oranges.


Definition - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: His definition of fun was sleeping and watching television. Better: He defined fun as sleeping and watching television.


Description - Example: Please give a description of the man who attacked you. Better: Please describe the man who attacked you.


Difficulty - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: I’m having difficulty with math. Better: Math is difficult for me. Best: I’m struggling with math.


Ease - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: He thinks editing is a task you can do with ease. Better: He thinks editing is easy.


Encouragement - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: His encouragement helped my success. Better: He encouraged me and I succeeded.


Facilitate - Use simpler replacement, such as help, yield, or aid. Ex: Patience facilitates understanding. Better: Patience aids understanding.


Facility - Stilted phrase. Say exactly what an object is (school, hospital, government building). Ex: The facility had a large cafeteria. Better: Johnson Elementary School had a large cafeteria.


Failure - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: His failure was caused by not studying hard enough. Better: He failed because he didn’t study hard enough.


Get - Weak verb. Cut it or use stronger verbs such as become, land, acquire, or retrieve. Ex: You need to get motivated. Better: Motivate yourself. Ex: How many clients did you get through starting a blog? Better: How many clients did you land through starting a blog?


Initial - Whenever possible and appropriate, use a simpler replacement, such as first. Ex: My initial thought was to flee. Better: My first thought was to flee.”


Intensity - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: She has a high level of intensity. Better: She is intense.


Movement - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: My movement startled the cat. Better: I moved and startled the cat.


Reaction - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: My reaction caused everyone to be surprised. Better: The way I reacted surprised everyone.


Refusal - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). Use the verb or adjective form for more powerful sentences. Ex: His refusal to leave forced me to call the cops. Better: He refused to leave, so I called the cops.


Spend - If this word is followed by an ing verb, modify your sentence. Ex: How many hours do you spend writing each day? Better: How many hours do you write each day?


Transformation - Nominalization (wordiness introduced when someone uses the noun equivalent of a verb or adjective). His transformation into an athlete caused shock among his peers. Ex: He transformed into an athlete and shocked his peers.


Walk - Walk can be replaced with a more descriptive. Weak: He walked loudly up the stairs to his room. Strong: He stomped up the stairs to his room.


Conjunction - A word that joins two independent clauses together.

But - TBA


For - TBA


Nor - TBA


Or - TBA


So - TBA


Yet - TBA


Weak Adjective - Delete it or redo your sentence.

Only - TBA Overview of adj only The adj only has 2 senses (no senses from tagged texts) 1. lone, lonesome, only, sole, solitary -- (being the only one; single and isolated from others; "the lone doctor in the entire county"; "a lonesome pine"; "an only child"; "the sole heir"; "the sole example"; "a solitary instance of cowardice"; "a solitary speck in the sky") 2. alone, only -- (exclusive of anyone or anything else; "she alone believed him"; "cannot live by bread alone"; "I'll have this car and this car only") Overview of adv only The adv only has 7 senses (first 6 from tagged texts) 1. (258) merely, simply, just, only, but -- (and nothing more; "I was merely asking"; "it is simply a matter of time"; "just a scratch"; "he was only a child"; "hopes that last but a moment") 2. (226) entirely, exclusively, solely, alone, only -- (without any others being included or involved; "was entirely to blame"; "a school devoted entirely to the needs of problem children"; "he works for Mr. Smith exclusively"; "did it solely for money"; "the burden of proof rests on the prosecution alone"; "a privilege granted only to him") 3. (13) only -- (with nevertheless the final result; "He arrived only to find his wife dead"; "We won only to lose again in the next round") 4. (6) only -- (in the final outcome; "These news will only make you more upset") 5. (4) only -- (except that; "It was the same story; only this time she came out better") 6. (2) only, only if, only when -- (never except when; "call me only if your cold gets worse") 7. only -- (as recently as; "I spoke to him only an hour ago")


Vague Noun - The noun is too vague for the sentence. Use a more descriptive noun.

Factor - Dull, unnecessary word. Replace with a verb. Ex: Avid reading was a factor in his writing ability. Better: Avid reading helped his writing.


Situation - Vague noun. Be more specific if possible. Ex: The situation got worse. Better: The riot got worse.