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50 Sophisticated Words to Trick Schools into Thinking You’re Classy

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

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Many students are intimidated by the essays that must be written to complete college or scholarship applications. The truth is, you don’t have to use big words or fancy words you don’t understand to write a compelling essay — a few well-placed, sophisticated words will do. College essays should be extremely polished and fluff-free.

sophisticated words

It’s time to get creative and make every word count, so be sure to use sophisticated words rather than slang or Internet acronyms (LMAO). Forget everything Urban Dictionary taught you and add a touch of class to your vocabulary with more sophisticated words in your writing and speech.

When you are ready to choose a school, we recommend you use our ranking of the top 100 best online colleges as your starting point.

  • Advantageous (adjective) beneficial; creating a favorable situation to give an advantage. My volunteer work puts me in an advantageous position over other applicants.
  • Alacrity (noun) pep in your step; lively, cheerful, and eager behavior. She lit up the dull room with her alacrity; her energy was palpable. She was thrilled to have been chosen to help.
  • Amiable (adjective) friendly and good-natured. He was amiable and well-liked in the community prior to the discovery in his basement.
  • Aptitude (noun) talent or ability She discovered her aptitude for real-life math at a young age while shopping with her mother.
  • Assiduity (noun) dedication, diligence, and great focus. I studied with assiduity for the exam and feel confident and fully prepared.
  • Candor (noun) open; honest; sincere. The senator’s candor during his speech won many voters over.
  • Cumulative (adjective) accumulative, all added together. Exercising for one day may not yield results, but the health benefits are cumulative over time.
  • Debase (verb) to corrupt or contaminate. I don’t allow mainstream media to debase my common sense.
  • Deferential (adjective) yielding out of respect. The commissioner became accustomed to deferential treatment.
  • Diligent (adjective) attention to detail; careful and hard-working. My diligent work on the project was critical to its success.
  • Eloquent (adjective) fluent; having a way with words; perfectly said. Her eloquent speech moved the audience to tears.
  • Elucidate (verb) to explain very clearly. She was eager to elucidate the problem to the mechanic so that it could be fixed.
  • Emboldened (adjective) being made bold. We were emboldened by our success and ready to take it to the next level.
  • Ephemeral (adjective) fleeting or short-lived. Summer romance is often ephemeral, as is the season itself.
  • Equitable (adjective) a fair division between all parties. My equitable share of the profit was 45%.
  • Extol (verb) to give high praise. He gave a speech to extol the benefits of online college .
  • Gratuitous (adjective) unnecessary; uncalled-for. Both parties hurled gratuitous insults at each other and nothing was accomplished.
  • Gregarious (adjective) outgoing; extroverted. The gregarious host made us feel welcome and comfortable in her home.
  • Hypocrisy (noun) the insincerity of pretending to believe something you do not believe. My mother’s hypocrisy was exposed when I caught her cursing and smoking after speeding home from a late night out.
  • Incisive (adjective) the ability to identify or draw sharp distinctions. Her incisive remarks were hurtful, mostly because they were pointedly accurate.
  • Industrious (adjective) hard-working and persevering. In order to stand out from others, you must be smart, polite and industrious at your job.
  • Innate (adjective) born with it. He has the innate ability to make people smile and uses it to his advantage.
  • Insular (adjective) isolated; an island unto itself. Small-town life has many advantages, but can also be insular in many ways.
  • Intrepid (adjective) Bold or brave. The intrepid explorer has seen things the rest of us can only imagine.
  • Latent (adjective) there, but not there; having the potential to be realized, but hidden. Since the virus is latent there are no obvious signs of infection.
  • Lithe (adjective) supple, bending easily. The dancers were lithe, yet also very strong.
  • Maxim (noun) a widely known saying that is accepted as truth. Gandhi’s maxim “Be the change you wish to see in the world” is one to live by.
  • Meticulous (adjective) precise attention to every detail. She is always meticulous about her research, leaving no stone unturned.
  • Modicum (noun) a small token amount. We enjoyed only a modicum of success so far, but are optimistic about the next project.
  • Myriad (noun) a large amount; countless. With online college , there are a myriad of career possibilities.
  • Nuance (noun) a very subtle difference. The nuance of her voice added new dimensions to the song she covered.
  • Obsequious (adjective) subservient; brown-nosing. His obsequious behavior failed to flatter his boss and quickly became annoying to everyone.
  • Panacea (noun) a cure-all. Mom’s homemade chicken soup is the ultimate panacea.
  • Pellucid (adjective) clearly understandable. The assembly instructions were surprisingly pellucid, which made the desk easy to put together.
  • Penchant (noun) a strong preference or liking. He has a penchant for antique automobiles and frequently attends car shows.
  • Perusal (noun) studying with the intent to memorize. A perusal of the material the night before made me feel confident about taking the test.
  • Plethora (noun) an abundance or extreme excess. With the plethora of choices, making a decision about which car to buy came down to consumer reviews.
  • Pragmatic (adjective) realistic and practical. Her pragmatic approach offered no frills but worked perfectly.
  • Predilection (noun) a preference or bias. Her predilection for the color blue was evident in her wardrobe choices.
  • Repudiate (verb) to reject or refuse to recognize as valid. He began to repudiate my excuse without even letting me finish.
  • Salient (adjective) something that stands out and is obvious. There may be some advantages to buying in early, but they are not immediately salient.
  • Staid (adjective) dignified and with decorum. I have lived a particularly staid life, so as not to embarrass myself.
  • Studious (adjective) character trait involving diligent study. She was always quite studious; it was not uncommon to find her books lying about.
  • Substantiate (verb) to give facts to support a claim. He said he was robbed, but there is nothing to substantiate his claim.
  • Superfluous (adjective) in excess; more than is needed. Don’t waste your precious breath with superfluous flattery; it will get you nowhere.
  • Surfeit (noun) the quality of overabundance. Considering the surfeit of food in America it is amazing that we still have some of our population go hungry.
  • Sycophant (noun) someone who sucks up to others for personal gain. She often wondered if Bruce really liked her or if he was simply being a sycophant because of her wealthy parents.
  • Taciturn (adjective) reserved or aloof. I tried to talk to my mother about what happened, but she remained taciturn.
  • Venerable (adjective) honorable; highly regarded. I was nervous about performing on opening night because of all the venerable guests in attendance.
  • Zenith (noun) the highest point. Looking back, Bradley realized that winning the tournament was the zenith of his high school career.

Visit for more sophisticated words to expand your vocabulary — and always keep it classy.

sophisticated phrases for creative writing


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Last updated on Feb 11, 2022

90+ Must-Know Metaphor Examples to Improve Your Prose

What figure of speech is so meta that it forms the very basis of riddles? The answer: a metaphor.

As Milan Kundera wrote in The Unbearable Lightness of Being : “Metaphors are dangerous. Metaphors are not to be trifled with.” Yet, paradoxically, they are an inescapable part of our daily lives — which is why it’s all the more important to understand exactly how they function.

To help, this article has a list of 97 metaphor examples to show you what they look like in the wild. But if you have a moment to spare, let's learn a bit more about what a metaphor is.

What is a metaphor?

A metaphor is a literary device that imaginatively draws a comparison between two unlike things. It does this by stating that Thing A is Thing B. Through this method of equation, metaphors can help explain concepts and ideas by colorfully linking the unknown to the known; the abstract to the concrete; the incomprehensible to the comprehensible. It can also be a rhetorical device that specifically appeals to our sensibilities as readers.

To give you a starting point, here are some examples of common metaphors:

  • “Bill is an early bird.”
  • “Life is a highway.”
  • “Her eyes were diamonds.”

Note that metaphors are always non-literal. As much as you might like to greet your significant other with a warhammer in hand (“love is a battlefield”) or bring 50 tanks of gasoline every time you go on a date (“love is a journey”), that’s not likely to happen in reality. Another spoiler alert: no, Katy Perry doesn't literally think that you're a firework. Rather, these are all instances of metaphors in action.

How does a metaphor differ from a simile?

Simile and metaphor are both figures of speech that draw resemblances between two things. However, the devil’s in the details. Unlike metaphors, similes use like and as to directly create the comparison. “Life is like a box of chocolates,” for instance, is a simile. But if you say, “Life is a highway,” you’re putting a metaphor in motion.

The best way to understand how a metaphor can be used is to see it in practice — luckily, we’ve got a bucket-load of metaphor examples handy for you to peruse.

The Ultimate List of 90+ Metaphor Examples

Metaphors penetrate the entire spectrum of our existence — so we turned to many mediums to dig them up, from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the Backstreet Boys’ ancient discography. Feel free to skip to your section of interest below for metaphor examples.

Literature Poetry Daily Expressions Songs Films Famous Quotations

Metaphors in literature are drops of water: as essential as they are ubiquitous. Writers use literary metaphors to evoke an emotional response or paint a vivid picture. Other times, a metaphor might explain a phenomenon. Given the amount of nuance that goes into it, a metaphor example in a text can sometimes deserve as much interpretation as the text itself.

Metaphors can make prose more muscular or imagery more vivid:

1. “Exhaustion is a thin blanket tattered with bullet holes.” ― If Then , Matthew De Abaitua
2. “But it is just two lovers, holding hands and in a hurry to reach their car, their locked hands a starfish leaping through the dark.” ― Rabbit, Run , John Updike
3. “The sun in the west was a drop of burning gold that slid near and nearer the sill of the world.” — Lord of the Flies , William Golding
4. “Bobby Holloway says my imagination is a three-hundred-ring circus. Currently I was in ring two hundred and ninety-nine, with elephants dancing and clowns cart wheeling and tigers leaping through rings of fire. The time had come to step back, leave the main tent, go buy some popcorn and a Coke, bliss out, cool down.” — Seize the Night ,   Dean Koontz

Writers frequently turn to metaphors to describe people in unexpected ways:

5. “But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!” — Romeo & Juliet , William Shakespeare
6. “Who had they been, all these mothers and sisters and wives? What were they now? Moons, blank and faceless, gleaming with borrowed light, each spinning loyally around a bigger sphere.  ‘Invisible,’ said Faith under her breath. Women and girls were so often unseen, forgotten, afterthoughts. Faith herself had used it to good effect, hiding in plain sight and living a double life. But she had been blinded by exactly the same invisibility-of-the-mind, and was only just realizing it.” ― The Lie Tree , Frances Hardinge
7. “’I am a shark, Cassie,’ he says slowly, drawing the words out, as if he might be speaking to me for the last time. Looking into my eyes with tears in his, as if he's seeing me for the last time. "A shark who dreamed he was a man.’” ― The Last Star , Rick Yancey
8. “Her mouth was a fountain of delight.” — The Storm , Kate Chopin
9. “The parents looked upon Matilda in particular as nothing more than a scab. A scab is something you have to put up with until the time comes when you can pick it off and flick it away.” — Matilda , Roald Dahl
10. “Mr. Neck storms into class, a bull chasing thirty-three red flags." — Speak , Laurie Anderson
11. “’Well, you keep away from her, cause she’s a rattrap if I ever seen one.’” — Of Mice and Men , John Steinbeck

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Metaphors can help “visualize” a situation or put an event in context:

12. “But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.” —Isaiah 64:8
13. “He could hear Beatty's voice. ‘Sit down, Montag. Watch. Delicately, like the petals of a flower. Light the first page, light the second page. Each becomes a black butterfly. Beautiful, eh? Light the third page from the second and so on, chainsmoking, chapter by chapter, all the silly things the words mean, all the false promises, all the second-hand notions and time-worn philosophies.’” — Fahrenheit 451 , Ray Bradbury

To entertain and tickle the brain, metaphor examples sometimes compare two extremely unlike things:

14. “Delia was an overbearing cake with condescending frosting, and frankly, I was on a diet.” ― Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception , Maggie Stiefvater
15. "The sun was a toddler insistently refusing to go to bed: It was past eight thirty and still light.” — Fault in Our Stars , John Green
16. “If wits were pins, the man would be a veritable hedgehog.” ― Fly by Night , Frances Hardinge
17. “What's this?" he inquired, none too pleasantly. "A circus?" "No, Julius. It's the end of the circus." "I see. And these are the clowns?" Foaly's head poked through the doorway. "Pardon me for interrupting your extended circus metaphor, but what the hell is that?” ― Artemis Fowl , Eoin Colfer
18. “Using a metaphor in front of a man as unimaginative as Ridcully was the same as putting a red flag to a bu — the same as putting something very annoying in front of someone who was annoyed by it.” ― Lords and Ladies , Terry Pratchett

Metaphors can help frame abstract concepts in ways that readers can easily grasp:

19. “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” — Fault In Our Stars , John Green
20. “If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me.” — Macbeth , William Shakespeare
21. “Memories are bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces.” ― Kill the Dead , Richard Kadrey
22. “Wishes are thorns, he told himself sharply. They do us no good, just stick into our skin and hurt us.” ― A Face Like Glass , Frances Hardinge
23. “’Life' wrote a friend of mine, 'is a public performance on the violin, in which you must learn the instrument as you go along.” ― A Room with a View , E.M. Forster
24. “There was an invisible necklace of nows, stretching out in front of her along the crazy, twisting road, each bead a golden second.” ― Cuckoo Song , Frances Hardinge
25. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” — As You Like It , William Shakespeare

Particularly prominent in the realm of poetry is the extended metaphor: a single metaphor that extends throughout all or part of a piece of work . Also known as a conceit , it is used by poets to develop an idea or concept in great detail over the length of a poem. (And we have some metaphor examples for you below.)

If you’d like to get a sense of the indispensable role that metaphors play in poetry, look no further than what Robert Frost once said: “They are having night schools now, you know, for college graduates. Why? Because they don’t know when they are being fooled by a metaphor. Education by poetry is education by metaphor.”

Poets use metaphors directly in the text to explain emotions and opinions:

26. She must make him happy. She must be his favorite place in Minneapolis. You are a souvenir shop, where he goes to remember how much people miss him when he is gone. —“ Unrequited Love Poem ,” Sierra DeMulder
27. She is all states, and all princes, I. Nothing else is. Princes do but play us; compared to this, All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy. —“ The Sun Rising ,” John Donne
28. I watched a girl in a sundress kiss another girl on a park bench, and just as the sunlight spilled perfectly onto both of their hair, I thought to myself: How bravely beautiful it is, that sometimes, the sea wants the city, even when it has been told its entire life it was meant for the shore. —“I Watched A Girl In A Sundress,” Christopher Poindexter

Extended metaphors in particular explore and advance major themes in poems:

29. All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind. Thinking is always the stumbling stone to poetry. A great singer is he who sings our silences. How can you sing if your mouth be filled with food? How shall your hand be raised in blessing if it is filled with gold? They say the nightingale pierces his bosom with a thorn when he sings his love song. —“ Sand and Foam ,” Khalil Gibran
30. But a BIRD that stalks down his narrow cage / Can seldom see through his bars of rage / His wings are clipped and his feet are tied So he opens his throat to sing. —“ Caged Bird ,” Maya Angelou
31. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference. —“ The Road Not Taken ,” Robert Frost
32. Marriage is not a house or even a tent it is before that, and colder: the edge of the forest, the edge of the desert the edge of the receding glacier where painfully and with wonder at having survived even this far we are learning to make fire —“ Habitation ,” Margaret Atwood
33. These poems do not live: it's a sad diagnosis. They grew their toes and fingers well enough, Their little foreheads bulged with concentration. If they missed out on walking about like people It wasn't for any lack of mother-love. —“ Stillborn ,” Sylvia Plath
34. Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tune without the words / And never stops at all. —“ Hope Is The Thing With Feathers ,” Emily Dickinson

Daily Expressions

Here’s some food for thought (35): you’ve probably already used a metaphor (or more) in your daily speech today without even realizing it. Metaphorical expressions pepper the English language by helping us illustrate and pinpoint exactly what we want to say. As a result, metaphors are everywhere in our common vocabulary: you may even be drowning in a sea (36) of them as we speak. But let’s cut to our list of metaphor examples before we jump the shark (37).

38. Love is a battlefield.

39. You’ve given me something to chew on.

40. He’s just blowing off steam.

41. That is music to my ears.

42. Love is a fine wine.

43. She’s a thorn in my side.

44. You are the light in my life.

45. He has the heart of a lion.

46. Am I talking to a brick wall?

47. He has ants in his pants.

48. Beauty is a fading flower.

49. She has a heart of stone.

50. Fear is a beast that feeds on attention.

51. Life is a journey.

52. He’s a late bloomer.

53. He is a lame duck now.

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Metaphors are a must-have tool in every lyricist’s toolkit. From Elvis to Beyonce, songwriters use them to instinctively connect listeners to imagery and paint a visual for them. Most of the time, they find new ways to describe people, love — and, of course, break-ups. So if you’re thinking, “This is so sad Alexa play Titanium,” right now, you’re in the right place: here’s a look at some metaphor examples in songs.

54. You ain't nothin' but a hound dog / Cryin' all the time —“Hound Dog,” Elvis Presley
55. You're a fallen star / You're the getaway car / You're the line in the sand / When I go too far / You're the swimming pool / On an August day / And you're the perfect thing to say — “Everything,” Michael Buble
56. 'Cause baby you're a firework / Come on show 'em what your worth / Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!" / As you shoot across the sky-y-y — “Firework,” Katy Perry
57. I'm bulletproof nothing to lose / Fire away, fire away / Ricochet, you take your aim / Fire away, fire away / You shoot me down but I won't fall, I am titanium —“Titanium,” David Guetta
58. Life is a highway / I wanna ride it all night long / If you're going my way / I wanna drive it all night long —“Life Is A Highway,” Rascal Flatts
59. She's a Saturn with a sunroof / With her brown hair a-blowing / She's a soft place to land / And a good feeling knowing / She's a warm conversation —“She’s Everything,” Brad Paisley
60. I'm a marquise diamond / Could even make that Tiffany jealous / You say I give it to you hard / So bad, so bad / Make you never wanna leave / I won't, I won't —“Good For You,’ Selena Gomez
61. Remember those walls I built / Well, baby, they're tumbling down / And they didn't even put up a fight / They didn't even make a sound —“Halo,” Beyonce
62. Did I ever tell you you're my hero? / You're everything, everything I wish I could be / Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle / For you are the wind beneath my wings / 'Cause you are the wind beneath my wings —“Wind Beneath My Wings,” Bette Midler
63. You are my fire / The one desire / Believe when I say I want it that way —“I Want It That Way,” Backstreet Boys
64. Your body is a wonderland / Your body is a wonder (I'll use my hands) / Your body is a wonderland —“Your Body Is A Wonderland,” John Mayer
65. I'm walking on sunshine (Wow!) / I'm walking on sunshine (Wow!) / I'm walking on sunshine (Wow!) / And don't it feel good —“I’m Walking On Sunshine,” Katrina and the Waves
66. If you wanna be with me / Baby there's a price to pay / I'm a genie in a bottle / You gotta rub me the right way —“Genie in a Bottle,” Christina Aguilera
67. If God is a DJ, life is a dance floor / Love is the rhythm, you are the music / If God is a DJ, life is a dance floor / You get what you're given it's all how you use it —“God Is A DJ,” P!nk
68. If this town / Is just an apple / Then let me take a bite —“Human Nature,” Michael Jackson
69. I just wanna be part of your symphony / Will you hold me tight and not let go? —“Symphony,” Clean Bandit
70. My heart's a stereo / It beats for you, so listen close / Hear my thoughts in every note —“Stereo Hearts,” Gym Class Heroes
71. I'm the sunshine in your hair / I'm the shadow on the ground / I'm the whisper in the wind / I'm your imaginary friend —“I’m Already There,” Lonestar

Films can add a different angle to the concept of a metaphor: because it’s a visual medium, certain objects on-screen will actually represent whatever the filmmaker intends it to represent. The same principle applies, of course — there’s still a direct comparison being made. It’s just that we can see the metaphor examples with our own eyes now.

Films can visually make clear comparisons between two elements on the screen:

72. “What beautiful blossoms we have this year. But look, this one’s late. I’ll bet that when it blooms it will be the most beautiful of all.” —from  Mulan
73. “Love is an open door Can I say something crazy? Will you marry me? Can I say something even crazier? Yes!” —from  Frozen

Metaphors are used in dialogue for characters to express themselves:

74. “You're television incarnate, Diana. Indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy.” — Network
75. “Life's a climb. But the view is great.” — Hannah Montana: the Movie

Famous Quotations

Did you know that Plato was using metaphors to express his thoughts all the way back in 427 BC? Since then, some of our greatest minds have continued to turn to metaphors when illuminating ideas in front of the general public — a practice that’s become particularly prominent in political speeches and pithy witticisms. Here’s a sample of some of the ways that famous quotes have incorporated metaphor examples in the past.

76. “All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.” —Albert Einstein
77. “A good conscience is a continual Christmas.” —Benjamin Franklin
78. “America has tossed its cap over the wall of space.” —John F. Kennedy
79. “I don't approve of political jokes; I have seen too many of them get elected.” —Jon Stewart
80. “Conscience is a man’s compass.” —Vincent Van Gogh
81. “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” —Albert Camus
82. “Time is the moving image of eternity.” ―Plato
83. “Every human is a school subject. This is rather a metaphorical way of saying it, to put it straight, those you love are few, and the ones you detest are many.” ―Michael Bassey Johnson
84. “Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.” —Will Rogers
85. “Life is little more than a loan shark: it exacts a very high rate of interest for the few pleasures it concedes.” —Luigi Pirandello
86. “America: in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words.  With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come.” —Barack Obama
87. “Bolshevism is a ghoul descending from a pile of skulls. It is not a policy; it is a disease. It is not a creed; it is a pestilence.” —Winston Churchill
88. “Books are mirrors of the soul.” —Virginia Woolf
89. “My life has a superb cast, but I can't figure out the plot.” —Ashleigh Brilliant
90. “I feel like we’re all in a super shitty Escape Room with really obvious clues like, ‘vote’ and ‘believe women’ and ‘don’t put children in cages.’” — Natasha Rothwell
91. “I travel the world, and I'm happy to say that America is still the great melting pot — maybe a chunky stew rather than a melting pot at this point, but you know what I mean.” —Philip Glass
92. “Life is a long road on a short journey.” —James Lendall Basford
93. “What therefore is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonymies, anthropomorphisms: in short a sum of human relations which become poetically and rhetorically intensified, metamorphosed, adorned, and after long usage seem to a nation fixed, canonic and binding.” —Nietzsche
94. “Life is a foreign language: all men mispronounce it.” —Christopher Morley
95. “Dying is a wild night and a new road.” —Emily Dickinson
96. “And your very flesh shall be a great poem.” —Walt Whitman

And as a bonus gift, here’s one last metaphor for the road, from one of our brightest philosophers. We’ll let Calvin have the last word:

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

Did we miss any of your favorite metaphors? Have more metaphor examples for us? Leave them in the (non-metaphorical) box below and we'll add them right in.

6 responses

James Hubbs says:

21/10/2018 – 23:44

Very useful article. Thank you. However, Fahrenheit 451 was written by Ray Bradbury, not George Orwell.

↪️ Reedsy replied:

22/10/2018 – 00:42

Great spot, James! That's now been fixed. Glad that the article was useful :)

Jonboy says:

21/05/2019 – 19:11

That Sylvia Plath quote nailed me. Ouch! Haven't read it but have to now...

21/06/2019 – 17:02

Another metaphor I love is “I’m just like them— an ordinary drone dressed in secrets and lies.” It’s from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


18/11/2019 – 01:59

life is a highway is Tom Cochrane, not Rascal Flats

↪️ Martin Cavannagh replied:

22/11/2019 – 12:54

Rascal Flatts did a cover of the song. We were deciding between the two and decided that "Rascal Flatts" sounded funnier :D

Comments are currently closed.

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  • 40 Useful Words and Phrases for Top-Notch Essays

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

To be truly brilliant, an essay needs to utilise the right language. You could make a great point, but if it’s not intelligently articulated, you almost needn’t have bothered.

Developing the language skills to build an argument and to write persuasively is crucial if you’re to write outstanding essays every time. In this article, we’re going to equip you with the words and phrases you need to write a top-notch essay, along with examples of how to utilise them.

It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and there will often be other ways of using the words and phrases we describe that we won’t have room to include, but there should be more than enough below to help you make an instant improvement to your essay-writing skills.

If you’re interested in developing your language and persuasive skills, Oxford Royale offers summer courses at its Oxford Summer School , Cambridge Summer School , London Summer School , San Francisco Summer School and Yale Summer School . You can study courses to learn english , prepare for careers in law , medicine , business , engineering and leadership.

General explaining

Let’s start by looking at language for general explanations of complex points.

1. In order to

Usage: “In order to” can be used to introduce an explanation for the purpose of an argument. Example: “In order to understand X, we need first to understand Y.”

2. In other words

Usage: Use “in other words” when you want to express something in a different way (more simply), to make it easier to understand, or to emphasise or expand on a point. Example: “Frogs are amphibians. In other words, they live on the land and in the water.”

3. To put it another way

Usage: This phrase is another way of saying “in other words”, and can be used in particularly complex points, when you feel that an alternative way of wording a problem may help the reader achieve a better understanding of its significance. Example: “Plants rely on photosynthesis. To put it another way, they will die without the sun.”

4. That is to say

Usage: “That is” and “that is to say” can be used to add further detail to your explanation, or to be more precise. Example: “Whales are mammals. That is to say, they must breathe air.”

5. To that end

Usage: Use “to that end” or “to this end” in a similar way to “in order to” or “so”. Example: “Zoologists have long sought to understand how animals communicate with each other. To that end, a new study has been launched that looks at elephant sounds and their possible meanings.”

Adding additional information to support a point

Students often make the mistake of using synonyms of “and” each time they want to add further information in support of a point they’re making, or to build an argument . Here are some cleverer ways of doing this.

6. Moreover

Usage: Employ “moreover” at the start of a sentence to add extra information in support of a point you’re making. Example: “Moreover, the results of a recent piece of research provide compelling evidence in support of…”

7. Furthermore

Usage:This is also generally used at the start of a sentence, to add extra information. Example: “Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that…”

8. What’s more

Usage: This is used in the same way as “moreover” and “furthermore”. Example: “What’s more, this isn’t the only evidence that supports this hypothesis.”

9. Likewise

Usage: Use “likewise” when you want to talk about something that agrees with what you’ve just mentioned. Example: “Scholar A believes X. Likewise, Scholar B argues compellingly in favour of this point of view.”

10. Similarly

Usage: Use “similarly” in the same way as “likewise”. Example: “Audiences at the time reacted with shock to Beethoven’s new work, because it was very different to what they were used to. Similarly, we have a tendency to react with surprise to the unfamiliar.”

11. Another key thing to remember

Usage: Use the phrase “another key point to remember” or “another key fact to remember” to introduce additional facts without using the word “also”. Example: “As a Romantic, Blake was a proponent of a closer relationship between humans and nature. Another key point to remember is that Blake was writing during the Industrial Revolution, which had a major impact on the world around him.”

12. As well as

Usage: Use “as well as” instead of “also” or “and”. Example: “Scholar A argued that this was due to X, as well as Y.”

13. Not only… but also

Usage: This wording is used to add an extra piece of information, often something that’s in some way more surprising or unexpected than the first piece of information. Example: “Not only did Edmund Hillary have the honour of being the first to reach the summit of Everest, but he was also appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.”

14. Coupled with

Usage: Used when considering two or more arguments at a time. Example: “Coupled with the literary evidence, the statistics paint a compelling view of…”

15. Firstly, secondly, thirdly…

Usage: This can be used to structure an argument, presenting facts clearly one after the other. Example: “There are many points in support of this view. Firstly, X. Secondly, Y. And thirdly, Z.

16. Not to mention/to say nothing of

Usage: “Not to mention” and “to say nothing of” can be used to add extra information with a bit of emphasis. Example: “The war caused unprecedented suffering to millions of people, not to mention its impact on the country’s economy.”

Words and phrases for demonstrating contrast

When you’re developing an argument, you will often need to present contrasting or opposing opinions or evidence – “it could show this, but it could also show this”, or “X says this, but Y disagrees”. This section covers words you can use instead of the “but” in these examples, to make your writing sound more intelligent and interesting.

17. However

Usage: Use “however” to introduce a point that disagrees with what you’ve just said. Example: “Scholar A thinks this. However, Scholar B reached a different conclusion.”

18. On the other hand

Usage: Usage of this phrase includes introducing a contrasting interpretation of the same piece of evidence, a different piece of evidence that suggests something else, or an opposing opinion. Example: “The historical evidence appears to suggest a clear-cut situation. On the other hand, the archaeological evidence presents a somewhat less straightforward picture of what happened that day.”

19. Having said that

Usage: Used in a similar manner to “on the other hand” or “but”. Example: “The historians are unanimous in telling us X, an agreement that suggests that this version of events must be an accurate account. Having said that, the archaeology tells a different story.”

20. By contrast/in comparison

Usage: Use “by contrast” or “in comparison” when you’re comparing and contrasting pieces of evidence. Example: “Scholar A’s opinion, then, is based on insufficient evidence. By contrast, Scholar B’s opinion seems more plausible.”

21. Then again

Usage: Use this to cast doubt on an assertion. Example: “Writer A asserts that this was the reason for what happened. Then again, it’s possible that he was being paid to say this.”

22. That said

Usage: This is used in the same way as “then again”. Example: “The evidence ostensibly appears to point to this conclusion. That said, much of the evidence is unreliable at best.”

Usage: Use this when you want to introduce a contrasting idea. Example: “Much of scholarship has focused on this evidence. Yet not everyone agrees that this is the most important aspect of the situation.”

Adding a proviso or acknowledging reservations

Sometimes, you may need to acknowledge a shortfalling in a piece of evidence, or add a proviso. Here are some ways of doing so.

24. Despite this

Usage: Use “despite this” or “in spite of this” when you want to outline a point that stands regardless of a shortfalling in the evidence. Example: “The sample size was small, but the results were important despite this.”

25. With this in mind

Usage: Use this when you want your reader to consider a point in the knowledge of something else. Example: “We’ve seen that the methods used in the 19th century study did not always live up to the rigorous standards expected in scientific research today, which makes it difficult to draw definite conclusions. With this in mind, let’s look at a more recent study to see how the results compare.”

26. Provided that

Usage: This means “on condition that”. You can also say “providing that” or just “providing” to mean the same thing. Example: “We may use this as evidence to support our argument, provided that we bear in mind the limitations of the methods used to obtain it.”

27. In view of/in light of

Usage: These phrases are used when something has shed light on something else. Example: “In light of the evidence from the 2013 study, we have a better understanding of…”

28. Nonetheless

Usage: This is similar to “despite this”. Example: “The study had its limitations, but it was nonetheless groundbreaking for its day.”

29. Nevertheless

Usage: This is the same as “nonetheless”. Example: “The study was flawed, but it was important nevertheless.”

30. Notwithstanding

Usage: This is another way of saying “nonetheless”. Example: “Notwithstanding the limitations of the methodology used, it was an important study in the development of how we view the workings of the human mind.”

Giving examples

Good essays always back up points with examples, but it’s going to get boring if you use the expression “for example” every time. Here are a couple of other ways of saying the same thing.

31. For instance

Example: “Some birds migrate to avoid harsher winter climates. Swallows, for instance, leave the UK in early winter and fly south…”

32. To give an illustration

Example: “To give an illustration of what I mean, let’s look at the case of…”

Signifying importance

When you want to demonstrate that a point is particularly important, there are several ways of highlighting it as such.

33. Significantly

Usage: Used to introduce a point that is loaded with meaning that might not be immediately apparent. Example: “Significantly, Tacitus omits to tell us the kind of gossip prevalent in Suetonius’ accounts of the same period.”

34. Notably

Usage: This can be used to mean “significantly” (as above), and it can also be used interchangeably with “in particular” (the example below demonstrates the first of these ways of using it). Example: “Actual figures are notably absent from Scholar A’s analysis.”

35. Importantly

Usage: Use “importantly” interchangeably with “significantly”. Example: “Importantly, Scholar A was being employed by X when he wrote this work, and was presumably therefore under pressure to portray the situation more favourably than he perhaps might otherwise have done.”


You’ve almost made it to the end of the essay, but your work isn’t over yet. You need to end by wrapping up everything you’ve talked about, showing that you’ve considered the arguments on both sides and reached the most likely conclusion. Here are some words and phrases to help you.

36. In conclusion

Usage: Typically used to introduce the concluding paragraph or sentence of an essay, summarising what you’ve discussed in a broad overview. Example: “In conclusion, the evidence points almost exclusively to Argument A.”

37. Above all

Usage: Used to signify what you believe to be the most significant point, and the main takeaway from the essay. Example: “Above all, it seems pertinent to remember that…”

38. Persuasive

Usage: This is a useful word to use when summarising which argument you find most convincing. Example: “Scholar A’s point – that Constanze Mozart was motivated by financial gain – seems to me to be the most persuasive argument for her actions following Mozart’s death.”

39. Compelling

Usage: Use in the same way as “persuasive” above. Example: “The most compelling argument is presented by Scholar A.”

40. All things considered

Usage: This means “taking everything into account”. Example: “All things considered, it seems reasonable to assume that…”

How many of these words and phrases will you get into your next essay? And are any of your favourite essay terms missing from our list? Let us know in the comments below, or get in touch here to find out more about courses that can help you with your essays.

At Oxford Royale Academy, we offer a number of  summer school courses for young people who are keen to improve their essay writing skills. Click here to apply for one of our courses today, including law , business , medicine  and engineering .

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Improving Your English

Writing idioms: Inspiring phrases about writing and writers

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

Struggling with writer’s block? These writing idioms will get your mind flowing again.

In this list we cover English idioms about writing, writers, letters, and even paper. We have also included a few proverbs on these topics! All of these phrases include a definition and example sentences to help you learn how to use them.

So, pen at the ready, and let’s go!

Writing idioms - an overhead, close up of a pen, paper, ink pot and flowers

Writing idioms

Get it in writing.

You’ll hear people use the expression get it in writing when they want to have physical proof of an agreement. They don’t just want to rely on a handshake or verbal agreement.

“Unless you get it in writing, I can’t proceed with the deal.”

Related to this, someone may ask you to put it in writing when you are forming an agreement.

Wet signature

Similar to the expression above, sometimes you are required to sign something with a wet signature (as opposed to an e-signature). This means that you must physically sign with a pen or other writing implement.

“That bank is so old-fashioned; they need a wet signature for me to open an account.”

Handwriting like chicken scratch

Hopefully, no one says you have handwriting like chicken scratch . It’s a way of describing someone’s writing as very messy – even illegible – like the dirt marks chickens make!

“My doctor has handwriting like chichen scratch and the pharmacist couldn’t understand it.”

Yes – doctors are notorious for their bad handwriting, but have you ever wondered why ?

Paper trail

You may hear this phrase in your favorite police drama show. A paper trail is a series of records and documents that can be used to track someone’s activities. When the police are looking for a criminal, they can follow phone records, financial reports, diary entries or even video footage to locate the person.

“We just followed the paper trail and found the missing money.”

Even though these records may be mainly electronic nowadays, we still refer to it as a ‘paper trail’.

Poison-pen letter

A poison-pen letter is not a very nice thing to write or receive. It’s a letter or note that is very mean-spirited, critical or even malicious. It isn’t usually signed by the sender.

“I can’t belive someone left a poison-pen letter on my car.”

To describe someone as an open book is to say that they are easy to get to know. They don’t withhold information or keep secrets, so you can learn a lot about them and their nature.

“Jo at reception is an open book. I find her really easy to get to know.”

We have more expressions about friendship and getting to know people on a separate page.

It’s not worth the paper it’s written/printed on

Sadly, some of these writing idioms are about deception and being tricked. When people describe an agreement, contract signing, guarantee or promise as not (being) worth the paper it’s written on , they are saying that the agreement is worthless.

“This contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. I’m afraid you’re going to lose your money.”

Not worth writing home about

When something is of little interest, rather dull or unremarkable, you could say that it’s not worth writing home about . In other words, there is no exciting news to report.

“My weekend wasn’t worth writing home about. What about you?”

Don’t forget to write

This is one of the more dated idioms about writing. Traditionally, when people went on holiday they would write postcards to friends and family back home. So, as a clichéd farewell, people will remind you, don’t forget to write . There are some more modern travel idioms you can use, too.

“Have a wonderful holiday and don’t forget to write.”

A word of warning: this expression can also be used in a sarcastic way when someone is happy you are leaving!

The oldest trick in the book

The oldest trick in the book is a form of deception or trickery, or a way of solving a problem, that has been done for a long time and still works well.

“Were you really expecting a new iPhone for that price from a guy on the street?! It’s the oldest trick in the book!” “I always go for a run whilst the family are still sleeping. It’s the oldest trick in the book to make sure I still get a run in.”

When this expression is used in reference to some kind of deception, there is also the suggestion that nobody should be naive enough to fall for the trick as it has been around for so long. So, if you do get tricked in this way, it’s your own fault for being gullible.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

This is such a popular phrase and a really great piece of advice. You should never judge a book by its cover as you are basing your opinions of someone or something purely on what you see on the outside.

“I was so shocked when my 92-year-old grandfather started breakdancing at the wedding. Guess you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!”

Writing idioms - a close up of a hand writing in a note book

Idioms about writing

Put pen to paper.

This idiom about writing could be losing relevance, since most writing nowadays is done electronically. Still, to instruct someone to put pen to paper is to tell them it’s time to start writing.

“Ok boys and girls, the exam has started to it’s time to put pen to paper. Good luck.” “Writing a novel may seem daunting but it just begins with putting pen to paper.”

The writing is on the wall

A lot of these idioms about writing are forms of warning or guidance, and this one is no exception! When there are strong indications that something bad is about to happen, people will warn that the writing is on the wall .

“Our sales are down and they’ve just transfered calls to another team. I guess the writing is on the wall and we’ll be fired soon.”

Did you know this is one of many idioms that come from the Bible ?

Paper over the cracks

In a literal form, to paper over cracks would be to cover defects in a wall by decorating over them. As an idiom, it tells us that someone is trying to hide or gloss over problems, issues, or disagreements.

“Listen, just paper over the cracks and we’ll sort it out after the presentation.”

Take a leaf out of someone’s book

When someone suggests that you take a leaf (or a page) out of someone’s book they are saying that you should do the same as them or follow their example.

“Why don’t you take a leaf out of your brother’s book? He’s just graduated from college.”

There are lots more idioms about books for you to discover here.

Pen pusher / Paper pusher

Writing idioms can be used in so many different ways. This one describes the type of job someone has. A pen pusher or paper pusher is someone who has a low-level administrative job that isn’t very interesting or significant.

It probably involves a lot of form-filling, filing or repetitive paperwork.

“Just ignore Micky, he’s only a paper pusher and has no real say in what happens.”

The pen is mightier than the sword

This is such an inspiring writer idiom, and perhaps an important idiom for kids to learn . The meaning behind the expression the pen is mightier than the sword is that writing is better than fighting.

Why so? Well, when you write something, people will read your words and you can influence or inspire them. Or it could be saying that communicating solves more problems than going to war. Basically, being intellectual is better than being physically aggressive, according to this saying.

“I wrote a letter to the President as I believe that the pen is mightier than the sword.”

Give someone their walking papers

Although there are a few positive idioms about writing, this one isn’t so good. To give someone their walking papers is to fire them from a job or ask them to leave a place or situation.

“Well, that’s that. I was given my walking papers on Friday.”

In British English, you may hear a similar phrase – to give someone their marching orders – which means the same thing.

The ink isn’t even dry yet / the ink’s still wet

You would use the saying the ink isn’t even dry yet or the ink is still wet to comment on something happening immediately after an agreement or legal document is signed.

A good example is someone getting re-married just after signing their divorce papers.

“The ink was still wet on the contract for the new car and he backed it into a wall!” “The ink isn’t even dry on your employment contract and you’re already thinking of leaving?!”

Even if nothing was physically signed, this phrase can be used figuratively.

Write a bum check (cheque)

Have you ever written a check to make a payment? Checks are being phased out in most places, but here is a full explanation of how they used to work.

To write a bum check (or ‘cheque’ in British English) is to issue a check to someone even though there isn’t enough money in the account to cover it. Since it takes a few days for a check to clear, there would be no way for the seller to know that you didn’t have the funds to make the payment. It’s no surprise that other payment methods are taking over!

“Just make sure you don’t write a bum check again.”

Discover some more idioms about money here.

Write someone up / Write someone a ticket

This writing expression is predominantly used with reference to police officers, although you may hear it in a work context too. When you write someone up you are reporting them for a wrong action they have done.

The similar idiom, write someone a ticket , would usually refer to a parking or speeding ticket resulting in a fine.

“Sue, you know you can’t enter here without a permit! I’m going to have to write you up.” “I begged the policeman not to write me a ticket, but he wouldn’t listen.”

Writer’s block

This is a perfect idiom about writing to end on! The reason for this is that when someone suffers from writer’s block they simply can’t think of anything else to write.

“I tried so hard to finish my essay last night but by 11pm I got writer’s block and had to stop.” “Do you have any tips for dealing with writer’s block?”

Hopefully, this list of writing idioms has helped you not only to understand them better but also to be a little more creative in your own writing.

Are there any others you have heard of that we could add to this list? Leave a comment to let us know.

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Blogs for English Excellence

How to Use Vocabulary in Creative Writing to Make Brilliant Stories

If you want to be a writer or really like writing, it’s important to know that vocabulary in creative writing is very important – as it can help you be the best writer you can be.

Creative writing is the way for people to express themselves and share their imaginative stories with others. It doesn’t follow regular writing rules, so it allows writers to create stories, poems, and essays that deeply connect with the readers’ emotions. When you are writing in a creative approach, it is very important to have a large and strong set of words that you know and understand well. This allows you to express your thoughts clearly, create strong mental pictures, and provoke feelings in your readers’ mind.

With Vocavive App , we have been helping students learn and master a strong collection of important English vocabulary. Having this kind of collection of a wide range of words helps writers express their ideas clearly and genuinely, making their creative ideas come alive on paper.

In this article, we will further discuss the words that can greatly help you to create a well-crafted story. We will give you helpful advice and tips to improve your writing skills – which includes choosing the right words, avoiding using the same words too much, and using good transitions.

Let’s get started?

Exploring the Significance of Vocabulary in Creative Writing

Creative writing is incredibly important because it lets us express ourselves and connect with others. It allows us to unleash our imagination, share personal stories, and evoke emotions in readers. The best kind of Creative writings have a great storytelling . They are full of rich expressions that take the reader through a journey.

Now, when it comes to writing effectively, having a good vocabulary is vital. Why?


A wide range of words helps us to convey our thoughts, emotions, and visuals in the best possible way. The work gets easier for the writer. But is it only that?

It also enables us to create vivid imagery in readers’ minds, develop intriguing characters, and construct realistic worlds. Numerous research studies have demonstrated this link between a strong vocabulary and writing proficiency. Research conducted by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) reveals that a larger vocabulary enhances the quality and complexity of writing. When we know and use a variety of words, our writing becomes more creative, clear, and profound.

Another study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology found that students with an extensive vocabulary tend to produce more engaging and captivating stories.

Overused Words That Will Make Your Writing Sound Weak

Using a variety of words is important when writing creatively. However, we should try not to use words and phrases which have been used too much in creative writing. We might use those words thinking it will improve the richness, when in fact, it can do the opposite. Those commonly used and overused words can make our writing sound boring and unoriginal.

Let’s look at a list of commonly used words that we should be careful not to use too much.

  • Awesome – The word “awesome” is used too much and doesn’t give enough details to describe something impressive or remarkable.
  • Beautiful – A word that is often used without giving any specific details or personal viewpoints.
  • Brilliant – The word “brilliant” is often used to say something is really good or smart, but it might sound overused.
  • Cool – An informal word that many people use a lot, but it doesn’t give a clear meaning anymore.
  • Cute – Often used to describe something charming or appealing, but it can be used too much and become unoriginal.
  • Different – Different is a word that is commonly used to describe something but doesn’t give much information or understanding about it.
  • Simple – Simple things are repeated too much and don’t have much meaning, so they don’t show all the details or difficulties involved.
  • Great – A word that is often used but it doesn’t provide many details and can be unoriginal.
  • Nice – A word that is used too much and doesn’t have enough clear details to describe something well.
  • Really – Often used as a word that doesn’t have much meaning and doesn’t make things clearer or more important.
  • Amazing – Often used without giving details or showing the real specialness of something.
  • Surprising – Used too much and doesn’t have a strong effect because people use it to describe things that happen or experiences that they have frequently.
  • Breathtaking – It has been used so much that it lost some of its power and impact.
  • Difficult – Often used without giving specific details or explanations about the difficulties being talked about.
  • Compelling – Means when something is persuasive or captivating, but it is often used too much and lacks originality.
  • Important – Often used to highlight significance without giving different viewpoints or specific details.
  • Dramatic – Often used to describe something intense or powerful, but can be unoriginal.
  • Effective – Effective is a word we use a lot but it doesn’t tell us much and doesn’t give us any new or special information about what we’re talking about.
  • Encouraging – Means giving support or motivation, but it is often used without giving examples or details to explain why it is encouraging.
  • Exciting – A word that people use too much, and it’s not very specific in describing the real nature or specialness of an exciting experience or event.
  • Fabulous – Frequently used to describe something exceptional or marvelous, but its frequent usage has diminished its impact.
  • Fantastic – Often employed as a generic term to convey excitement or positivity, but can lack specificity and originality.
  • Fascinating – A common choice to describe something intriguing or captivating, but its frequent usage can make it sound clichéd.
  • Fortunate – Frequently used without providing unique details or perspectives on the nature of the good fortune.
  • Genius – Overused to describe exceptional intelligence or talent, but its frequent use can diminish its impact.
  • Helpful – A commonly used term that lacks specificity, failing to convey the specific ways in which something or someone is helpful.
  • Incredible – Often used generically to express disbelief or awe, but its frequent usage can dilute its impact.
  • Inspiring – Frequently used to describe something that motivates or encourages, but can sound clichéd without offering specific examples.
  • Interesting – A generic term used to convey engagement or curiosity, but its overuse can make it sound unoriginal.
  • Magnificent – Frequently used to describe something grand or impressive, but its frequent usage can lessen its impact.
  • Memorable – Often used without providing specific details or insights into what makes something truly memorable.
  • Outstanding – A common descriptor for excellence, but its overuse can make it sound less impactful or unique.
  • Powerful – Frequently used to convey strength or influence, but its frequent usage can make it lose some of its impact.
  • Remarkable – Often used to describe something extraordinary or noteworthy, but its frequent usage can diminish its impact.
  • Significant – A frequently used term to express importance or meaning, but its overuse can make it sound clichéd.
  • Spectacular – Often used to describe something visually stunning or impressive, but its frequent usage can make it lose impact.
  • Striking – Frequently used to describe something visually or emotionally impactful, but its overuse can diminish its effect.
  • Substantial – A common term used to convey importance or size, but its overuse can make it sound generic or lacking in specificity.
  • Successful – Often used without providing specific criteria or context for defining success.
  • Surprising – Frequently used to convey unexpectedness, but its overuse can make it sound less impactful or genuine.
  • Terrific – A commonly used term to express enthusiasm or positivity, but its frequent usage can make it sound clichéd.
  • Unique – Often used to describe something one-of-a-kind or distinct, but its frequent usage can diminish its impact.
  • Valuable – Frequently used to express worth or importance, but its overuse can make it sound less impactful or specific.
  • Vivid – A commonly used term to describe something vibrant or intense, but its frequent usage can make it sound unoriginal.
  • Wonderful – Often employed as a generic term to convey delight or positivity, but its frequent usage can diminish its impact.
  • Worthwhile – Frequently used to express value or significance, but its overuse can make it sound less impactful or meaningful.

Use these 14 Types of Transition Vocabulary In Creative Writing

Effective transitions help connect ideas and make it easier for readers to follow along with the story or information. By using connecting words and phrases, writers often make their work easier to understand and flow better. Here are the Transition Words and Phrases you should keep in your volt.

Addition: again, also, besides, too, furthermore, moreover, in addition, first, second, third, next, lastly

Contrast: but, however, nevertheless, on the other hand, conversely, yet, although, even though, while, whereas

Comparison: similarly, likewise, in the same way, as, just as, than, like

Cause and Effect: because, therefore, thus, hence, as a result, consequently, so, for this reason, due to

Time: after, before, during, since, then, when, while, afterwards, next, finally, initially

Sequence: first, second, third, next, then, afterward, finally, to begin with, to start with

Emphasis: indeed, in fact, certainly, of course, truly, really, definitely, undoubtedly

Restatement: in other words, to put it another way, that is, as I said, in short

Clarification: to be more specific, to clarify, in other words, that is to say

Summarization: in summary, to sum up, all in all, in conclusion, to conclude

Example: for example, for instance, to illustrate, as an illustration, as shown

Concession: admittedly, it is true that, I agree that, I grant that, I will admit that

Refutation: however, on the contrary, yet, still, nevertheless, in spite of

Concluding Remarks: to conclude, in conclusion, in summary, to sum up, all in all

Question: How do I Use These Transition Words to Create a More Compelling Read?

To make your paragraphs flow better, it’s important to keep a few practical tips around you that connect your ideas smoothly. First, think carefully about how to move smoothly from one idea to another in your writing. Plan out the order that makes the most sense for your thoughts.

By doing this, you can find out where you need to use transition words and phrases to help readers understand how ideas are connected. Try out different connectors like “also,” “however,” or “likewise,” to keep your readers interested and add some variety to your writing.

Make sure to think about the situation and what you want to say when you write. Choose words that clearly show how your ideas connect to each other. It’s important to put transitions in the right places in sentences to make sure the writing flows smoothly and makes sense. You can put them at the start, in the middle, or at the end of sentences.

Vocabulary Gems to Dazzle Your Teacher in Essay Writing

As students, we often find ourselves striving to impress our teachers with well-crafted answer scripts. Beyond accurate content, an impressive essay demands the strategic use of vocabulary to showcase our language prowess and command over the subject matter. Let’s take a look at it with an example.

Before Using Vocabulary:

Imagine you are writing an essay about the American Revolution. In the fayirst scenario where there is no vocabulary, your essay may read like this –

“The American Revolution was a significant event in history. The colonists fought against British rule for their freedom.”

After Using Vocabulary:

Now, let’s see the same essay with an improved vocabulary usage –

“The American Revolution stands as a pivotal milestone in history, epitomizing the relentless spirit of the colonists who valiantly waged a battle for their emancipation from British dominion .”

Which one do you think has more richness?

See, the “after” scenario here elevates the description of the American Revolution by incorporating words like “pivotal milestone,” “relentless spirit,” and “valiantly waged a battle.”

Your classroom might have 20+ students. To stand out from the general crowd, you can use vocabulary like these. It not only demonstrates a more nuanced understanding of the said topic, but it also brilliantly captures the attention of the reader, including your teacher. She might feel more convinced to give you an A.


How to use specific words, descriptive language, and figurative language in creative writing

When describing emotions, shy away from simplistic and overused terms, such as “happy” or “sad”, or “very important”. Instead, try to opt for colorful alternatives that bring your characters’ feelings to life. For instance, rather than stating “The boy was happy,” say “The boy was grinning ear to ear, his eyes twinkling with excitement.” Such descriptions allow your readers to experience the joy alongside the character.

You also need to pay attention to employing descriptive language that adds depth and color to your writing. For example, replace mundane phrases like “The sky was blue” with a more captivating expression. It could be “The sky was a brilliant azure blue, stretching out like a vast ocean.” When you are using such rich language, your readers can feel as though they’re witnessing the scene firsthand.

Coming to figurative language, utilize similes, metaphors, and personification. This will leave a lasting impact on your audience who want to enjoy and feel connected to your story. For example, if you had to merely write an expression such as “The boy was strong” – you could very well say “The boy was as strong as an ox.” When this is done, the comparison to “an ox” not only conveys strength but also makes the description more memorable for the reader.

In Conclusion

In your journey as a budding writer, remember that mastering vocabulary in creative writing is not just a skill but a powerful tool for self-expression and captivating your readers. It is a skill that is essential for any writer, but it is especially important for creative writers. When you have a wide vocabulary, you have a wider range of tools to express yourself and bring your stories to life. You can use more precise language to describe your characters, settings, and events.

So don’t be afraid to experiment with new words. The more you use them, the more comfortable you will become with them, and the better your writing will be.

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100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay

By: Author Sophia

Posted on Last updated: October 25, 2023

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How to Write a Great Essay in English! This lesson provides 100+ useful words, transition words and expressions used in writing an essay. Let’s take a look!

The secret to a successful essay doesn’t just lie in the clever things you talk about and the way you structure your points.

Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay

Overview of an essay.

100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay

Useful Phrases for Proficiency Essays

Developing the argument

  • The first aspect to point out is that…
  • Let us start by considering the facts.
  • The novel portrays, deals with, revolves around…
  • Central to the novel is…
  • The character of xxx embodies/ epitomizes…

The other side of the argument

  • It would also be interesting to see…
  • One should, nevertheless, consider the problem from another angle.
  • Equally relevant to the issue are the questions of…
  • The arguments we have presented… suggest that…/ prove that…/ would indicate that…
  • From these arguments one must…/ could…/ might… conclude that…
  • All of this points to the conclusion that…
  • To conclude…

Ordering elements

  • Firstly,…/ Secondly,…/ Finally,… (note the comma after all these introductory words.)
  • As a final point…
  • On the one hand, …. on the other hand…
  • If on the one hand it can be said that… the same is not true for…
  • The first argument suggests that… whilst the second suggests that…
  • There are at least xxx points to highlight.

Adding elements

  • Furthermore, one should not forget that…
  • In addition to…
  • Moreover…
  • It is important to add that…

Accepting other points of view

  • Nevertheless, one should accept that…
  • However, we also agree that…

Personal opinion

  • We/I personally believe that…
  • Our/My own point of view is that…
  • It is my contention that…
  • I am convinced that…
  • My own opinion is…

Others’ opinions

  • According to some critics… Critics:
  • believe that
  • suggest that
  • are convinced that
  • point out that
  • emphasize that
  • contend that
  • go as far as to say that
  • argue for this

Introducing examples

  • For example…
  • For instance…
  • To illustrate this point…

Introducing facts

  • It is… true that…/ clear that…/ noticeable that…
  • One should note here that…

Saying what you think is true

  • This leads us to believe that…
  • It is very possible that…
  • In view of these facts, it is quite likely that…
  • Doubtless,…
  • One cannot deny that…
  • It is (very) clear from these observations that…
  • All the same, it is possible that…
  • It is difficult to believe that…

Accepting other points to a certain degree

  • One can agree up to a certain point with…
  • Certainly,… However,…
  • It cannot be denied that…

Emphasizing particular points

  • The last example highlights the fact that…
  • Not only… but also…
  • We would even go so far as to say that…

Moderating, agreeing, disagreeing

  • By and large…
  • Perhaps we should also point out the fact that…
  • It would be unfair not to mention the fact that…
  • One must admit that…
  • We cannot ignore the fact that…
  • One cannot possibly accept the fact that…


  • From these facts, one may conclude that…
  • That is why, in our opinion, …
  • Which seems to confirm the idea that…
  • Thus,…/ Therefore,…
  • Some critics suggest…, whereas others…
  • Compared to…
  • On the one hand, there is the firm belief that… On the other hand, many people are convinced that…

How to Write a Great Essay | Image 1

100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay 1

How to Write a Great Essay | Image 2

100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay 2

Phrases For Balanced Arguments


  • It is often said that…
  • It is undeniable that…
  • It is a well-known fact that…
  • One of the most striking features of this text is…
  • The first thing that needs to be said is…
  • First of all, let us try to analyze…
  • One argument in support of…
  • We must distinguish carefully between…
  • The second reason for…
  • An important aspect of the text is…
  • It is worth stating at this point that…
  • On the other hand, we can observe that…
  • The other side of the coin is, however, that…
  • Another way of looking at this question is to…
  • What conclusions can be drawn from all this?
  • The most satisfactory conclusion that we can come to is…
  • To sum up… we are convinced that…/ …we believe that…/ …we have to accept that…

How to Write a Great Essay | Image 3

100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay 3

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How to Describe Happiness: 100 Phrases

clouds and blue sky | How to Describe Happiness in Writing: A Master List for Writers #ways to describe happiness #how to describe happiness in writing #joy #how to express happiness in a sentence #list of excitement phrases #happy phrases

You’d think figuring out how to describe happiness would be easy…

but when you’re trying to think of how to express happiness in a sentence, it’s easy to draw a blank. That’s why I’m sharing this list of ways to describe happiness, excitement, and joy. I hope these happy phrases help with your novel, story, or whatever you’re writing!

When I shared my Master List of Ways to Describe Anger the other week, on my Facebook author page , one person told me she expected a paywall when she clicked. That was a pretty nice compliment! So I thought I’d do one on how to describe happiness, too. Most of the time, you can express emotions through internal monologue, dialogue, and actions. Once in a while, though, you run into the need to describe the feeling in the point of view of your character.

There are really infinite ways to convey emotion in writing. I have 100 ways here to write about happiness, joy, contentment, hope, and gratitude here. They’re not in any particular order — really, it’s just the order that I thought of them. 🙂

They aren’t all going to be ones you use personally, because every writer is different! Chances are, they’ll make you think of even more words and phrases.

woman holding up her arms in sunset - how to describe happiness in writing

How to Describe Happiness

his heart leaped up for joy

he felt a surge of happiness

I was paralyzed with happiness

their mood lifted

she was bursting with joy

he could hardly contain his happiness

his mood lightened

my spirits brightened

hope bloomed inside her

happiness glowed inside him

he felt a sudden flare of joy

I could barely conceal my delight

they were flabbergasted with joy

sunshine flooded her soul

his spirits were flying high

her hopes soared

she felt like her feet barely touched the ground

joy engulfed me

it cheered her soul

joy took hold of him

inside, she was smiling

she almost jumped for joy

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happiness overtook him

she took a defiant joy in it

happiness streaked through him like a comet

a quiet contentment spread through him

contentment filled her heart

happiness trembled inside of her

his heart dared to hope

happiness swelled within her

gratitude flowed through her

had she ever been happier in her life?

it elevated his mood

he couldn’t think of a time he’d ever been happier

their joy unfolded like a flower

tennis shoes and a daisy on the grass - how to describe happiness in writing

she felt a glimmer of happiness

he felt dizzy with excitement

joy rushed through me

my happiness was so intense it scared me

he thought he would die of joy

her heart was singing

she felt drunk with happiness

he was intoxicated with joy

his heart throbbed with happiness

she burned with a fierce joy

happiness crept over him

it was almost more happiness than she could take

he knew a profound joy

her happiness grew

I was wild with joy

happiness expanded inside him

they were suffused with happiness

joy sparkled inside her

happiness shimmered inside me

happiness danced through her thoughts

he almost collapsed with happiness

it raised his spirits

it brought my spirits up

contentment warmed her from within

happiness radiated through him

he’d never felt more alive

she felt fully and wonderfully alive

I was filled with joyful energy

she could’ve wept for joy

I wanted to shout for joy

he was weak with gratitude

his heart pounded with happiness

she savored the feeling of contentment

a sudden feeling of happiness surprised him

an unexpected happiness consumed her

happiness made me feel invincible

joy rippled through him

gratitude welled up inside her

he felt a flush of happiness

happiness resonated through him

she was transported with joy

it was almost too much happiness to bear

contentment tiptoed into her heart

he was overcome with happiness

he’d unearthed a greater joy than any he’d ever known

her spirits bounded higher

it brought him a ray of happiness

she felt a whisper of happiness

he felt an inkling of joy

she felt a stab of hope

satisfaction settled in his soul

happiness washed over her

his soul took flight

she felt in love with the whole world

he had no words for the gratitude he felt

she was buzzing with happiness

she felt like she was floating

young woman in restaurant blissfully listening to music - how to describe happiness in writing

he was in heaven

she was treasuring every moment

she surrendered to bliss

the weight lifted from my soul

he felt a solemn sense of happiness

joy bubbled up inside of her

his happiness overflowed

my heart almost broke with joy

I’m curious: if you read the whole list straight through, did it make you feel happier? It had that effect on me!

Either way, I hope you’re happy to have the list! And if you you like lists for writers, check out my book Master Lists for Writers, if you haven’t already!

Master Lists for Writers by Bryn Donovan

Do you have some ideas about how to describe happiness? Would you like to share an example of a description of happiness from your own writing? Please go ahead in the comments section below! Thanks for stopping by, and happy writing!

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Share this:

46 thoughts on “ how to describe happiness: 100 phrases ”.

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Bryn, your posts are always filled with such awesome information for the reader and writer in all of us! Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy life to do this. And, yes, I was smiling towards the end!

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Hi, Marcia! Oh, I’m so glad you like them. 🙂

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Yup! U r right!

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I love these lists. I print them out and use them regularly. They help inspire and find the right words. I use them as a cheat sheet.

Constance, I’m so glad they’re helpful! I do think of them as “cheat sheets” (except it’s not really cheating, of course!)

' src=

These are great! And SO helpful!! <3

Hi, Caro! Aw thanks. Hope you’re having a great week!

' src=

You helped me improve in my composition a lot.THANK YOU!???

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I absolutely love your lists. I refer to them all the time when I find myself needing inspiration or repeating too many phrases. Thank you so much for sharing.

Ohh, thank you friend. 🙂

' src=

Wonderful list! Thank you, Bryn.

' src=

Thank you so much. I’m so happy that I’ll no longer spend minutes trying to convey a simple emotion and it’s all thanks to you!

' src=

Thanks, Bryn. These are great descriptions. 🙂 — Suzanne

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Thanks Bryn, I’ve saved this and will use it often. Happiness has crept over me! Cary

How amazing! Where do you get all these ideas from?

Aw thanks! It took me a long time. 🙂

How long????

Thanks for this wonderful list about happiness

' src=

I was wondering on Google and I found this!!! Such a lovely article ? I too write on from India. Hopefully you’ll find something interesting on my blog. Well, love from India ♥️

This was so useful! I started using a few in my everyday writing and it’s made a huge difference

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This is a great post and a huge help for writers like myself. Amazing information! Thank you.

Hi Margie! Thanks—I am so glad you found it useful!

' src=

Hi! I kind of used this in my writing. Thank you so much!

What I wrote: The room erupted in cheers. People were laughing and smiles were everywhere. Thank GOODNESS! I could barely conceal my happiness. Joy and relief welled up inside of me, and I sighed. I let out the deep breath that I had been holding onto for what seemed like a long time. My job here was done and my dream… had come true.

Ashlyn, so glad it helped. And I love what you wrote! Thanks for sharing!

Wow! Amazing ?! I LOVE it!!!

' src=

what an amazing list of words, enjoyed it thank you!!

they helped me a lot in my creative writings.

Wow,Bryn! Thank you ?! I use it a lot on my Compositions!

' src=

OMG this is priceless, thank you thank you thank you thank you! Bless your soul for this.

thx, my child now gets high marks for her compo

  • Pingback: How to get rid of depression in 2020 and strongly learn the best from it even if it doesn't call for the past - Grow Your Health

awww you are soo sweet,you are helpful you are a role modelll:)

thanks this really helped with my compo ???

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my god! Amazing stuff!, huge round of Applause!!

I am Sheema Suroor Mohammad

' src=

Thanks heaps great list!!

' src=

Thank you. This is exactly what i was looking for. Please note that you are helping emerging authors with this your list that i personally refer to as inexhaustible list.

' src=

That is an impressive list! Thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback: Best sites for writers – You’re missing out if you aren’t using any of these - Shades of Zarah

' src=

Happy to learn happiness in so many words, Wonder how it comprehends so wide! Thank you so much.

' src=

this really helped me and i fucking hate you

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  • Pingback: How to Describe Happiness: Conveying Joy in Words – Boomers

' src=

I found this website a couple of days ago, and let me tell you, I love it so much! These are so helpful when trying to make things sound interesting without using the same phrases over and over again! Thank you for making these!

' src=

Simply amazing. Very well listed. we do find words but not phrases. And you have done an fantastic work by putting them in phrases and Its not just saved our time but you made me learn a many of them. Thank you so much.

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Using Creative Words and Phrases for Composition Writing & Essays

  • Primary School Composition Writing

Using Creative Words and Phrases for Composition Writing & Essays

Using Creative Words and Phrases for Composition Writing & Essays

How to use creative words and phrases for composition writing & essays.

This blog post will teach you how to use creative and inspired phrases for composition writing.  It will also give you examples and ideas of Idioms, Similes, Metaphors or Personification that you can use in your compositions.

But first, here’s a Free Ebook –  80 Awesome Phrases to Wow your Teacher !

(Tip: You can print out the free ebook for your child to read.)

good phrases for composition writing

Do You Really Need Good Phrases for Composition Writing?

No, you don’t.  Your child should not use good phrases just for the sake of impressing the reader.  Your child should concentrate on using the RIGHT PHRASE for the RIGHT SITUATION .  (In fact, our collection of Model Compositions for Primary School Students does not contain pompous, bombastic words or phrases.)

And to do so, your child needs to have a broad knowledge of a variety of phrases.  That way, he will be well-equipped with an arsenal of words to express himself fluently and smoothly.

Many parents misunderstand the use of good vocabulary words for essays.  They force their child to memorise bombastic words and phrases.  This should not be the case as memorisation does not equal application.  Students tend to memorise the phrases and then use them in the wrong context when writing.  This causes the students’ writing to become stilted and mechanical.  Some may even become addicted to the use of bombastic vocabulary and end up writing overly-complicated sentences or phrases to look smart.

Now which is smarter – expressing yourself in a short and sweet manner, or, writing a whole bunch of fancy and pompous words just to narrate a simple thought?

Instead of “good phrases”, focus on using – EFFECTIVE PHRASES.

It’s okay to use simple phrases!  Keep your sentences short, concise, and straight to the point.  Use the right words at the right time.  Express your ideas fluently.

Remember – You are writing to let the reader read for the sake of enjoyment.  You are not writing to IMPRESS the reader.

Bonus Video – How To Use Good Expressions in Composition Writing:

Here’s an online lesson I conducted some time back on how to use Good Expressions in your compositions.  It is very similar to what I address in the article later on How to Write Good Phrases.

It’s about 1 hour long so you may want to set aside some time to watch it. (You can also fast forward to 6:09 to skip straight to the introduction and then the lesson.)

Types of Descriptive Phrases

“Good Phrases” can be broken down into:


An idiom is an expression of words whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements. (Definition taken from )

In other words, an idiom is a quirky series of words combined to form a special meaning.

Idioms should be used sparingly in a composition.  Do not overuse them as it may make your overall composition sound very cheesy or old-fashioned.  Some idioms are also not commonly used in our everyday speech. Hence, over-usage of the less well-known idioms might make reading awkward.

Some Useful Idioms

1. An arm and a leg –  Very expensive or costly.

E.g: Dining at this high-class restaurant cost me an arm and a leg !  I will never return here again.

2. Blessing in disguise – something good that was not recognized at first.

E.g:  Missing that field trip turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the school bus met with an accident.

3. Piece of cake – used to describe something that is very easy to do.

E.g:  This assignment was a piece of cake .  I completed in less that fifteen minutes

4. Not to make head or tail of something – unable to decipher or understand the meaning

E.g:  The teacher was talking so fast that I could not make head or tail of what he was saying.

5. See eye to eye – to agree with someone

E.g:  Jack and Diane kept on quarreling as they could not see eye to eye with each other.

For more useful idioms, you check out  our LIST of 88 AWESOME IDIOMS that you can learn and apply immediately.  Boost your language marks for compo writing and WOW your teacher!

Click the button below to download this free ebook for your child!

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

  • Simple & Easy-to-use
  • Minimal Memory Work
  • Examples provided
  • Learn the meaning of these idioms!

It is a figure of speech where one thing is compared with another thing of a different kind.

It is used to make a description more vivid or to draw out a particular quality of the subject being mentioned.

Similes are used with the words “like” or “as…as”.

Similes are best used when they are original, creative, relevant and logical.  A simile which has been used too many times  – “as fast as a cheetah” or “as fast as lightning” –  will not score you extra points.

Chattering like monkeys - how to use good phrases

Some Useful Similes

1.The students were chattering like monkeys .

2. The winner of the race paraded around the track like a peacock .

3. We tried to carry him but he was as heavy as an elephant .

4.  The signboards were as bright as daylight .

5. When she heard someone call her name in the dark, she turned as pale as a sheet .

6. Filled with rage, the bully charged towards me like a bull .

7. The boys were laughing like hyenas when they pulled off the prank.

8. Don’t worry about her.  She can handle it herself.  She is as tough as nails !

9. When the exams commenced, the classroom became  as silent as a grave .

10. On the last day of school, Jimmy dashed out of the school gates feeling as free as a bird .

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something that is not literally applicable to suggest a resemblance.  (definition taken from ).

In other words, it is almost like a simile, except you are not using the words ‘like’ or ‘as…as’.

as angry as a bull - how to use good phrases for composition writing

Simile:  He was as angry as a bull.

Metaphor: He was an angry bull.

Metaphors are slightly more difficult to use than similes.  But when they are used right, they can give an extremely vivid portrayal of a character or a situation in the story.

A metaphor applied correctly can be a very powerful tool in writing.

Some Useful Metaphors

1. She felt a whirlwind of emotions passed through her.  ( overwhelmed by emotions)

2. Don’t believe that fortune-teller.  He is selling you snake oil .  (metaphorical idiom, fake promises, products or services that fail to live up to expectations, something fraudulent)

3. Mr Tan is a teacher with a heart of gold .  ( very kind or generous)

4.  Stay away from him.  He is a loaded gun . (dangerous)

5.  When the basketball team got off the bus, we could smell the stench of defeat on them.  ( they acted in such a way that it was easy to deduce that they have lost)

6. After failing her exams, Shirley wallowed in a sea of self-pity .  ( metaphorical idiom, overwhelmed by self-pity)

7. He was so sad that he was crying rivers . (a lot of tears)

8.  Sean’s stomach was a bottomless pit . ( extremely hungry, describe someone who cannot stop eating.)

9. Completing this assignment was a breeze . ( very easy to complete)

10.  Hearing her laughter was music to my ears .  (a pleasant sound)

Personification is done by attributing human characteristics to something non-human.

This is used to give a clearer picture of whatever that’s being described.  It enables the reader visualise and see the imagery in their minds.

Personification can be done by simple usage of verbs or action words.

Just like metaphors, personification can count as good vocabulary words for essay writing.

personification -sun - how to use good phrases for composition writing -edited

Some Useful Ideas for Personification

1. The thunderstorm raged on outside my window.

2. The soft, cool sand caressed my feet.

3. The sun peeked out from behind the clouds.

4. I could hear the faint wail of the ambulance in a distance.

5. The moment I stepped out into the streets, I was greeted by the strong diesel fumes.

6. The trees shadowed the soldiers as they trekked through the forest.

7. The sports car roared  with ferocity as it zoomed past the spectators.

8. The road was treacherous and unforgiving .

9. The expensive handbag seemed to call out to her.  “Buy me!”

10. By the time the firemen arrived, the flames were already dancing on the roof.

How to come up with your own phrases?

The best descriptions are often ones that you come up with on the spot, that can fit the scenario or context that you are describing perfectly.

Coming up with good phrases for composition writing is not that hard.  All you need is an inquisitive mind that is able to draw comparisons between 2 unrelated objects.

You need to be creative –  a trait that is inherent in most children.

You need to be able to come up with fresh ideas and fresh perspectives.

Some questions to ask yourself when coming up with good vocabulary words for essays:

  • How can I better depict this character/scene/object by comparing it with something else?
  • What’s a better verb I can use to personify this object?
  • How can I make this phrase or sentence more interesting for the reader?
  • How can I better convey my point across to the reader?
  • How can I help the reader to visualise better?

How to write a good essay in English?

DON’T be so preoccupied with employing gargantuan words in your expositions that your sentence ends up reading like this. See what I did there?

Often students pepper their essays with “smart-sounding” words to impress their examiners. This has the opposite effect; readers are left scratching their heads, wondering what message the student is trying to convey.

The best way to resist this impulse is to replace bombastic words with effective ones. “Bombastic”, according to Oxford Languages, means “high-sounding but with little meaning”. When you use bombastic words, you may just end up using words in the wrong context . You also tend to make errors of repetition by force-fitting all the words you know into your compo.

Consider this sentence: “The enraptured onlookers were jolted and entranced by the spine-tingling sight of the sunset.”

Did you spot the errors?

1. “Enraptured” and “entranced” mean the same thing. (Repetition)

2. “Jolted” means “shocked”. (Wrong context. This is a sunset, not a horror movie!)

3. “Spine-tinging” means “scary”. (Again, wrong context.)

Here’s the revised sentence: “The onlookers were left mesmerised by the breathtaking sunset.”

By replacing bombastic words with effective ones, you’re well on your way to writing a good essay in English.

Good vocabulary words for essays

vector image showing girl studying on good vocabulary for writing good phrases

Good vocabulary forms the bedrock of an essay, so it is important to use vocabulary that is appropriate, yet not overused and therefore, cliched. Let’s begin with the introduction.


The introduction is where you set the scene for your reader. Use descriptive phrases that vividly describes the setting. Word of caution: do not overdo the setting descriptions, especially when the setting plays no role in your story plot.

  • Use vivid vocabulary instead of vague adjectives :

For instance, replace vague adjectives like “beautiful” with more precise vocabulary. If you’re describing places like a quiet beach or park, “ serene ” and “tranquil ” can be used instead.

If you’re describing greenery, “verdant” is more appropriate and paints a more vivid picture in your reader’s mind:

e,g, “My parents and I were at the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, enjoying a peaceful afternoon amidst the verdant expanse of lush trees and vibrant flower beds, blissfully unaware that things would soon take an unexpected turn.”

  • Use creative phrases instead of cliches :

It’s high time we ditch cliched phrases about how “fluffy clouds dotted the azure sky”. This does not impress your reader!

Consider this other cliched phrase: “The smell of buttery popcorn wafted into my nostrils.”

What a yawn! Let’s improve by rewriting it as follows: “The smell of buttery popcorn beckoned to me, tantalising my senses.” You have effectively personified the smell of the popcorn and in doing so, you convey just how tempted you were by it!

Rising Action

vector image of man hopping on graph chart showing rising action for writing

Things are heating up here and if you want to keep your readers on their toes, use suspenseful language to plant clues. This is especially useful if your story is about an unfortunate event or something unexpected.

When something seems a little amiss, hint at the impending problem using phrases such as:

1. Something gnawed at the back of my mind, but I brushed it off.

2. I could not shake the feeling of…

3. I could feel it in my bones; something was not right.

4. I felt a tug of apprehension in my gut, subtle but persistent.

5. The birdsong abruptly ceased, as if nature itself were holding its breath.

This is where the main conflict or action occurs and where vocabulary should be impactful . Once again, stand out from the crowd by using high-intensity words (and avoid using “very”) to create excitement!

  • Use impactful, highly charged vocabulary instead of dull phrases :
  • Use “show, not tell” instead of stating the facts :

This means showing, not telling , the reader what your character is thinking and feeling. In doing so, you engage the reader and make your writing a whole lot more immersive! When the reader can picture your character, you evoke a deeper emotional response.

Consider these two descriptions:

  • Jane was devastated but determinedly continued on.
  • Hastily wiping her tears away, Jane bit her lip and marched ahead.

Ask yourself: which one is more impactful? Which description draws you in and allows you to feel Jane’s pain?

Falling Action

vector image of young man reading a book - falling action for writing

Here’s the part where the dust settles. Common emotions experienced by characters include relief (usually after negative events) and happiness (for positive outcomes).

  • Use body language to convey emotions like relief or joy

Your characters don’t always have to ‘heave/ breathe a sigh of relief”. There are plenty of other “show, not tell” or body language phrases we can use to convey relief:

1. Unclenching my fists, I…

2. Marcus slumped in his chair in relief .

3. She let out a long breath , thankful for the brief reprieve.

4. A soft smile played on her lips as worry washed away.

5. He wiped his brow as anxiety finally ebbed away

  • Explore using new idioms and metaphors to convey emotions

While “jumped for joy” and “over the moon” do show happiness, it’s time to retire these and adopt some new lingo! Try these instead:

1. Benjamin was walking on air after winning the championship.

2. The blushing bride graced us with a smile that could light up a room .

3. I was tickled pink after being personally invited to Taylor Swift’s birthday bash.

Belle walked up on stage with a spring in her step .

  • Capture complexity of emotions to create round (not flat) characters

More advanced writers might want to play around with describing more nuanced feelings because human emotions are complex! We often experience bittersweet emotions like joy tinged with melancholy.

Consider descriptions that capture this complexity. For instance, if describing a graduation,  you can try: “The valedictorian gave the graduating class a wistful smile as he prepared to throw up his mortarboard for the final hurrah.”

This lends more depth to your characters; this makes your characters three-dimensional, rounded … and real.

vector image of 6 different characters - good vocabulary characters

Leave the reader with a thought-provoking statement as you wrap up your final scene. You do your essay no favours by ending with crutch phrases about how “this memory will always be etched in his mind”.  

  • Use reflective vocabulary and words that convey closure:

1. Mulling over the day’s events, she…

2. Sandra was lost in a pleasant reverie as the jubilant cheers of her teammates faded into the backdrop.

3. Cristopher kept turning things over in his mind until he finally concluded that…

  • Use vivid descriptions to end with imagery:

1. Rain pattered against the window, washing away the dust of the day.

2. I stared at my reflection in the gleaming medal and saw, for the first time, a champion.

Remember, the best conclusions should leave the reader satisfied, bring closure, and create a lasting impression. And that’s how you end with a bang. 

See other related articles on Writing Samurai:

  • Proverbs are Phrases Commonly Used in Compositions
  • 6 Tips On How to Write a Good Composition For Primary School Students
  • Great Phrases To Use For Composition Writing & Essays
  • Situational Writing For Primary School Students

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100 Word Prompts for Writing: Boost Your Creativity with These Simple Words

By: Author Paul Jenkins

Posted on August 1, 2023

Categories Writing

If you’re a writer looking for inspiration, one of the best tools at your disposal is word prompts. These are single words or short phrases that can spark your creativity and help you come up with new ideas for your writing. Whether you’re struggling with writer’s block or just looking for a fun challenge, word prompts can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing.

There are many different types of word prompts available, ranging from simple nouns like “tree” or “book” to more complex phrases like “lost in the woods” or “abandoned mansion.”

Some prompts are specific to certain genres, like romance or horror, while others can be used for any type of writing. No matter what kind of writing you’re interested in, there’s sure to be a word prompt that can help you generate new ideas and explore different directions for your work.

Using word prompts can have many benefits for writers. They can help you break out of your comfort zone and try new things, as well as provide a starting point for your writing that you might not have thought of otherwise.

Additionally, by using prompts regularly, you can develop your writing skills and become more confident in your ability to generate ideas and write creatively. So if you’re looking for a way to boost your writing practice, consider incorporating word prompts into your routine.

Key Takeaways

  • Word prompts are a useful tool for writers looking for inspiration and new ideas.
  • There are many different types of word prompts available, including genre-specific prompts and prompts for different age groups.
  • Using word prompts regularly can help writers break out of their comfort zone, develop their skills, and become more confident in their writing abilities.

Understanding Word Prompts for Writing

When it comes to writing, prompts are an excellent way to get your creative juices flowing. A writing prompt is a word, phrase, or sentence that serves as a starting point for your writing. It can be a tool to help you overcome writer’s block or a way to challenge yourself to write something new and exciting.

One type of writing prompt that has gained popularity in recent years is the one-word writing prompt. These prompts are exactly what they sound like – a single word that serves as the inspiration for your writing. One-word prompts can be especially useful for generating new ideas and exploring different themes in your writing.

To make the most of a writing prompt, it’s essential to understand what it’s asking you to do. Before you start writing, take some time to analyze the prompt and consider what it means. Look for key words and phrases that can guide your writing and help you stay on track.

When working with a one-word prompt, think about the different meanings and associations that the word has. Consider how the word makes you feel and what images or ideas it brings to mind. Use this information to guide your writing and create a piece that is both unique and engaging.

In summary, writing prompts can be a powerful tool for writers of all levels. One-word prompts, in particular, are a great way to challenge yourself and explore new themes in your writing. By taking the time to understand the prompt and using it as a starting point, you can create something truly special and unique.

Here Are 100 One-Word Writing Prompts

1. Sunset 2. Raindrop 3. Butterfly 4. Seashell 5. Feather 6. Rose 7. Wind 8. Wave 9. Forest 10. Mountain 11. River 12. Desert 13. Island 14. Ocean 15. Lake 16. Morning 17. Night 18. Dawn 19. Dusk 20. Journey 21. Adventure 22. Discovery 23. Mystery 24. Secret 25. Surprise 26. Imagination 27. Courage 28. Hope 29. Dream 30. Vision 31. Success 32. Failure 33. Friendship 34. Loyalty 35. Betrayal 36. Forgiveness 37. Regret 38. Memory 39. Childhood 40. Growing 41. Learning 42. Searching 43. Finding 44. Losing 45. Waiting 46. Returning 47. Leaving 48. Arriving 49. Beginning 50. Ending 51. Change 52. Stillness 53. Silence 54. Noise 55. Darkness 56. Light 57. Shadow 58. Fear 59. Joy 60. Sorrow 61. Anger 62. Calm 63. Storm 64. Shelter 65. Escape 66. Refuge 67. Peace 68. War 69. Victory 70. Defeat 71. Strength 72. Weakness 73. Pride 74. Humility 75. Kindness 76. Cruelty 77. Love 78. Hate 79. Truth 80. Lies 81. Freedom 82. Captivity 83. Wisdom 84. Folly 85. Courage 86. Danger 87. Safety 88. Risk 89. Reward 90. Loss 91. Serenity 92. Chaos 93. Order 94. Confusion 95. Clarity 96. Obscurity 97. Light 98. Darkness 99. Life 100. Death

Types of Word Prompts

There are different types of word prompts that can help spark your creativity. Here are some of the most common types:

Action Prompts

Action prompts are words that suggest movement or activity. They can be used to write about a character’s physical actions or to describe a scene. Some examples of action prompts include:

Using action prompts can help you create dynamic scenes and add energy to your writing.

Emotion Prompts

Emotion prompts are words that evoke a particular feeling or mood. They can be used to explore a character’s emotions or to set the tone of a scene. Some examples of emotion prompts include:

Using emotion prompts can help you create more nuanced characters and add depth to your writing.

Setting Prompts

Setting prompts are words that suggest a particular location or environment. They can be used to describe a scene or to create a sense of atmosphere. Some examples of setting prompts include:

  • Underground

Using setting prompts can help you create vivid, immersive worlds that draw readers in.

By using different types of word prompts, you can generate a wide range of writing ideas and explore different aspects of your characters and stories. Experiment with different types of prompts and see what works best for you.

Benefits of Using Word Prompts

Using word prompts can offer a variety of benefits to writers of all levels. Here are some of the benefits you can expect when using word prompts:

1. Inspiration

Word prompts can be an excellent source of inspiration for writers who are struggling to come up with ideas. They can help you break out of writer’s block and get your creative juices flowing. By providing a starting point, word prompts can help you generate new and exciting ideas that you might not have considered otherwise.

2. Creativity

Word prompts can also help you develop your creativity by encouraging you to think outside the box. When you’re given a specific word or phrase to work with, you’re forced to come up with creative ways to incorporate it into your writing. This can help you develop your creativity and expand your writing skills.

3. Imagination

Word prompts can also help you tap into your imagination and explore new ideas and concepts. By providing a starting point, word prompts can help you imagine new worlds, characters, and scenarios that you might not have considered otherwise. This can help you develop your imagination and expand your writing skills.

4. Productivity

Using word prompts can also help you become more productive as a writer. By providing a starting point, word prompts can help you get started on your writing more quickly and easily. This can help you overcome procrastination and writer’s block, and can help you produce more writing in less time.

Overall, using word prompts can be an excellent way to improve your writing skills and develop your creativity, imagination, and productivity. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced writer, using word prompts can help you take your writing to the next level.

How to Use Word Prompts Effectively

Word prompts can be a powerful tool to help you generate ideas, begin your writing, and provide direction for your writing journey. Here are some tips on how to use word prompts effectively:

1. Choose the Right Word Prompt

Choose a word prompt that resonates with you or sparks your imagination. Don’t be afraid to choose a word that challenges you or takes you out of your comfort zone. The goal is to use the word prompt as a starting point for your writing, so choose a word that inspires you to write.

2. Use the Word Prompt as a Starting Point

Use the word prompt as a launching pad for your writing. Don’t try to force the word into your writing, but let it guide you in a natural way. The word prompt can be used as a way to brainstorm ideas or as a way to begin your writing.

3. Let Your Writing Take You on a Journey

Let your writing take you on a journey. Don’t worry about where your writing is going or how it will end. The journey is the destination, and the word prompt is just the beginning.

4. Embrace the Process

Embrace the process of writing. Writing is a journey, and it’s important to enjoy the process along the way. Don’t worry about being perfect or having all the answers. The beauty of writing is in the journey, and the word prompt is just the beginning of that journey.

By following these tips, you can use word prompts effectively to generate ideas, begin your writing, and provide direction for your writing journey.

Word Prompts for Different Genres

If you’re a writer, you know that sometimes it can be difficult to come up with new ideas. That’s where word prompts come in. Word prompts are a great way to get your creative juices flowing and to help you come up with new and exciting story ideas. Here are some word prompts for different genres that you can use to get started.

Fiction Prompts

If you’re looking for fiction prompts, there are plenty of options out there. You can use a single word or a phrase to get started. Here are a few examples:

  • “The last time you saw her”
  • “A knock at the door”
  • “The sound of footsteps”

Using these prompts, you can create a story that is unique and engaging. You can use them as a starting point and build your story from there.

Mystery Prompts

Mystery stories are all about suspense and intrigue. Here are some prompts that can help you create a compelling mystery:

  • “A missing object”
  • “A secret room”
  • “A mysterious phone call”

With these prompts, you can create a story that will keep your readers on the edge of their seats. You can use them to create a plot that is full of twists and turns.

Adventure Prompts

Adventure stories are all about excitement and danger. Here are some prompts that can help you create an adventurous tale:

  • “A lost city”
  • “A treasure map”
  • “A dangerous journey”

With these prompts, you can create a story that is full of action and adventure. You can use them to create a plot that is full of challenges and obstacles.

No matter what genre you’re writing in, word prompts can be a great way to get started. They can help you come up with new and exciting ideas that you may not have thought of otherwise. So the next time you’re feeling stuck, try using a word prompt to help you get started.

Creating Your Own Word Prompts

If you’re looking to invent unique writing prompts, you can use your imagination and creativity to come up with words that inspire you. Here are some tips to help you create your own word prompts:

  • Think about your interests and hobbies. What are some words that come to mind when you think about these topics? For example, if you’re interested in gardening, you could use words like “soil,” “seeds,” or “bloom.”
  • Consider using words that evoke strong emotions. Words like “love,” “hate,” “fear,” or “joy” can be powerful prompts that encourage you to explore your feelings in your writing.
  • Use random word generators to spark your creativity. There are many online tools that can generate random words for you to use as prompts. You can use these words as they are or combine them to create your own unique prompts.
  • Create a list of words that you find interesting or unusual. You can use these words as prompts for your writing, or combine them with other words to create more complex prompts.

Once you have a list of word prompts, you can use them in a variety of ways. You can choose one word each day and write a short story or poem inspired by that word. You can also use multiple words to create more complex prompts that challenge you to explore different themes and ideas in your writing.

The key to creating your own word prompts is to be open to new ideas and willing to experiment with different approaches. With a little creativity and imagination, you can come up with word prompts that inspire you to write and help you develop your skills as a writer.

Word Prompts for Different Age Groups

Prompts for children.

Word prompts are a great way to encourage children to write creatively. They can help children to develop their vocabulary, improve their writing skills, and express their thoughts and feelings. Here are some word prompts that are suitable for children:

Prompts for Teens

Teens often have a lot on their minds, and word prompts can be a great way to help them express themselves. Here are some word prompts that are suitable for teenagers:

Prompts for Adults

Word prompts can be a useful tool for adults who want to improve their writing skills or explore their creativity. Here are some word prompts that are suitable for adults:

No matter your age, word prompts can be a fun and effective way to get your creative juices flowing. Whether you’re a student, a parent, or just someone who loves to write, try using some of these word prompts to inspire your next writing project.

Word Prompts for Group Writing Activities

If you are looking for a fun and engaging way to get your writing group to work together, using word prompts is a great option. Word prompts can be used to inspire creativity, encourage collaboration, and provide a starting point for group writing activities.

One way to use word prompts in a group writing activity is to give each member of the group a different word and then have them write a paragraph or short story that incorporates all of the words. This activity can help to build unity within the group as everyone works together to create a cohesive story.

Another option is to use a single word prompt and have everyone in the group write their own story or poem based on that word. This activity allows for individual creativity while still providing a common starting point for everyone.

When choosing word prompts for group writing activities, it is important to consider the interests and skill levels of everyone in the group. You want to choose words that are challenging but not so difficult that they discourage participation.

Here are a few examples of word prompts that could be used in group writing activities:

By using word prompts in your group writing activities, you can encourage everyone to work together, inspire creativity, and have fun while writing.

Incorporating Word Prompts in Daily Writing

If you’re looking to improve your writing skills or simply want to write more frequently, incorporating word prompts into your daily writing routine can be an effective strategy.

Word prompts can be a single word, phrase, or sentence that inspires you to write on a specific topic or theme. Here are a few ways you can incorporate word prompts into your daily writing:

Use Word Prompts in Your Journal

If you keep a journal, using word prompts can help you explore new topics and ideas. You can use a different word prompt each day or week to challenge yourself to write about something new.

For example, if your word prompt is “adventure,” you could write about a recent adventure you had or imagine a future adventure you’d like to take.

Use Word Prompts in Your Letters

If you enjoy writing letters to friends and family, using word prompts can help you add variety to your correspondence. You can use a different word prompt for each letter you write or use the same prompt for multiple letters to explore different angles or perspectives.

For example, if your word prompt is “memories,” you could write about a favorite childhood memory or ask your recipient to share a memorable experience of their own.

Use Word Prompts to Write News Articles

If you’re interested in journalism, using word prompts can help you practice writing news articles on different topics. You can use a different word prompt each day or week to challenge yourself to write about a newsworthy event or issue. For example, if your word prompt is “climate change,” you could write about the latest climate change research or the impact of climate change on a specific community.

Use Word Prompts for Daily Writing Practice

If you want to improve your writing skills, using word prompts for daily writing practice can be a helpful tool. You can set aside a specific time each day to write on a different word prompt or use the same prompt for multiple days to explore different angles or perspectives.

For example, if your word prompt is “time,” you could write about the importance of time management or reflect on a significant moment in your life.

Incorporating word prompts into your daily writing can help you stay motivated, explore new topics, and improve your writing skills. Whether you’re writing in a journal, writing letters, or practicing journalism, using word prompts can be a fun and effective way to enhance your daily writing routine.

Special Word Prompts

If you are looking for some unique and exciting writing prompts, then special word prompts can be a great option to explore. These prompts can help you to unleash your creativity and come up with some truly amazing ideas. In this section, we will explore some of the most popular types of special word prompts that you can use to spark your imagination.

One-Word Prompts

One-word prompts are an excellent way to get started on a writing project. They are simple, yet effective, and can help you to focus your thoughts and ideas. Some examples of one-word prompts include “love,” “fear,” “adventure,” “mystery,” and “hope.” You can use these prompts to write a short story, a poem, or even a novel. The possibilities are endless.

Picture Prompts

Picture prompts are another great option for writers who are looking for something a little different. These prompts involve using a photograph or image as inspiration for your writing. You can use the image to create a setting, a character, or even a plot. Some examples of picture prompts include a deserted beach, a crowded city street, or a spooky forest. You can use these prompts to write a descriptive paragraph, a short story, or even a novel.

Music Prompts

If you are a music lover, then music prompts can be a great way to get inspired. These prompts involve using a song or piece of music as inspiration for your writing. You can use the lyrics or the melody to create a mood, a character, or even a story. Some examples of music prompts include “Yesterday” by The Beatles, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, or “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. You can use these prompts to write a poem, a short story, or even a screenplay.

In conclusion, special word prompts can be a great way to get inspired and come up with some truly amazing writing ideas. Whether you prefer one-word prompts, picture prompts, or music prompts, there is something out there for everyone. So, go ahead and give them a try. You never know what you might come up with.

Word Prompts for Self-Exploration and Personal Growth

Writing is a powerful tool for self-exploration and personal growth. When you write, you can explore your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a safe and private space. Word prompts can help you get started and guide you on your writing journey. Here are some word prompts for self-exploration and personal growth:

Writing about yourself can help you gain a deeper understanding of who you are and what makes you unique. Here are some word prompts to explore yourself:

  • Describe your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Write about a time when you felt proud of yourself.
  • What are your values and beliefs?
  • What are your goals and aspirations?
  • What are your fears and insecurities?

Writing can help you explore new ideas, perspectives, and experiences. Here are some word prompts to help you explore:

  • Write about a place you’ve never been before.
  • What are your thoughts on a controversial issue?
  • Write a letter to your future self.
  • Describe a challenge you overcame.
  • What are some things you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t yet?

Writing can help you reflect on your experiences and learn from them. Here are some word prompts to help you grow:

  • Write about a mistake you made and what you learned from it.
  • What is something you’ve changed your mind about?
  • Describe a time when you had to step out of your comfort zone.
  • Write about a person who has had a significant impact on your life.
  • What are some areas you want to improve in?

Personal Growth

Writing can help you track your progress and set goals for personal growth. Here are some word prompts to help you focus on personal growth:

  • What are your priorities in life?
  • Write about a time when you had to make a difficult decision.
  • Describe a time when you felt fulfilled.
  • What are some habits you want to develop or break?
  • Write about a goal you’ve achieved and how you did it.

In conclusion, word prompts can be a valuable tool for self-exploration and personal growth. By using these prompts, you can gain a deeper understanding of yourself, explore new ideas and experiences, reflect on your experiences, and track your progress towards personal growth.

Word Prompts for Story Development

When it comes to developing a story, word prompts can be a great tool to help you get started and overcome writer’s block. These prompts can be used for short stories, novels, or any other type of writing project.

Using word prompts can help you to create a plot and develop characters. They can also help you to explore different themes and ideas. Here are some tips for using word prompts for story development:

1. Choose a Word Prompt

Choose a word prompt that resonates with you and fits the type of story you want to write. You can find word prompts online or create your own. Some examples of word prompts include “love,” “fear,” “betrayal,” “adventure,” or “mystery.”

2. Brainstorm Ideas

Once you have chosen a word prompt, brainstorm ideas for your story. Think about how the prompt can be used to develop characters, create conflict, or drive the plot forward. You can use mind maps, index cards, or other brainstorming tools to help you generate ideas.

3. Develop Your Characters

Use the word prompt to develop your characters. Think about how the prompt relates to their backstory, personality, or motivations. Use the prompt to create conflict between characters or to drive their actions forward.

4. Create a Plot

Use the word prompt to create a plot for your story. Think about how the prompt can be used to create tension, build suspense, or drive the action forward. Use the prompt to create a twist or surprise ending.

5. Explore Themes

Use the word prompt to explore different themes and ideas in your story. Think about how the prompt relates to larger issues or questions. Use the prompt to create a message or moral for your story.

In conclusion, word prompts can be a powerful tool for developing a story. They can help you to create a plot, develop characters, and explore different themes and ideas. By following these tips, you can use word prompts to overcome writer’s block and create a compelling story.

Challenges in Using Word Prompts

Using word prompts for writing can be a fun and engaging way to get your creative juices flowing. However, it can also present some challenges that you may need to overcome to fully benefit from this exercise. Here are some of the difficulties you may face when using word prompts:

Challenge 1: Feeling Stuck

Sometimes, the word prompt you are given may not inspire you or may not seem interesting. You may feel stuck and unable to come up with any ideas. In such cases, it is important to remember that you do not have to write a masterpiece every time. Just start writing whatever comes to mind, even if it seems silly or unimportant. This can help you get past the initial hurdle of feeling stuck and may lead to more creative ideas later on.

Challenge 2: Lack of Direction

Another challenge you may face when using word prompts is a lack of direction. You may not know where to take your writing or what direction to go in. In such cases, it may be helpful to brainstorm some ideas before you start writing. You can also try breaking down the prompt into smaller parts and focusing on one aspect at a time.

Challenge 3: Overthinking

When using word prompts, it is easy to overthink and try to come up with the perfect idea. However, this can lead to writer’s block and prevent you from actually writing anything. To overcome this challenge, try to let go of your expectations and just write without worrying about the outcome. Remember that writing is a process, and not every idea has to be perfect.

Challenge 4: Limited Vocabulary

Using word prompts can also be challenging if you have a limited vocabulary. You may find it difficult to come up with different words or phrases to use in your writing. In such cases, it may be helpful to read more and expand your vocabulary. You can also use a thesaurus to find synonyms for words you commonly use.

Overall, using word prompts for writing can be a fun and rewarding exercise. However, it is important to be aware of the challenges that may arise and to find ways to overcome them. By doing so, you can unlock your creativity and improve your writing skills.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some unique one-word writing prompts.

There are many unique one-word writing prompts that can inspire creativity. Some examples include “Surrender,” “Mirage,” “Euphoria,” “Enigma,” and “Serendipity.” One way to find more unique prompts is to think of uncommon words or concepts and use them as a starting point for your writing.

Where can I find a good writing prompts book?

There are many writing prompt books available online or in bookstores. Some popular options include “642 Things to Write About” by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, “The Daily Prompt: A Year of Writing Exercises” by Hannah Braime, and “The Writer’s Block: 786 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination” by Jason Rekulak. You can also find many free writing prompt resources online.

What are some creative writing prompts for adults?

Creative writing prompts for adults can vary depending on your interests and writing goals. Some examples include “Write a story from the perspective of a tree,” “Describe a character’s dream job and how they achieve it,” or “Write a letter to your future self.” You can also find many creative writing prompt generators online that can provide unique and unexpected prompts.

What is an example of a successful writing prompt?

A successful writing prompt is one that inspires creativity and encourages writers to explore new ideas and perspectives. An example of a successful writing prompt might be “Write a story about a character who discovers a hidden door in their house and what they find behind it.” This prompt provides a clear starting point for a story while also leaving room for the writer to explore their imagination.

What are some two-word writing prompts?

Two-word writing prompts can be a fun and challenging way to spark creativity. Some examples include “Broken Dreams,” “Silent Thunder,” “Whispered Secrets,” “Hidden Treasure,” and “Fading Memories.” You can also create your own two-word prompts by combining words that have interesting or contrasting meanings.

Where can I find a daily word prompt generator?

There are many daily word prompt generators available online that can provide a new prompt every day. Some popular options include “OneWord,” “The Daily Post,” and “Writing Prompts.” These generators can be a great way to challenge yourself to write regularly and explore new ideas.

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Have you ever read a report, article, or book, and wished that your writing sounded as good? All writers feel as though what they write is not nearly as good as works written by someone else. However, a few stylistic aspects set the great writers apart from the amateurs.

The stylistic aspects we are talking about are easy to learn. It is just learning alternatives to the way you may write now. Who knows what makes these styles sophisticated over any other way of writing; but in today's world, they are considered the better, more sophisticated way of writing, so it only benefits you to use them.

The first stylistic aspect of your writing that will make it sound more sophisticated is in your sentence structure. Two common structures that are attributed to amateur writers are in examples listed below:

Running to the store, she tripped and fell over a rock.

As she ran to the store, she tripped and fell over a rock.

Both the "as" and the "ing" construction are grammatically correct; however, they are constructions that are known to be used by newer, less experienced writers. The problem with using these is that they are lazy. Although they show action, they can be a shortcut used by the writer to show action as quickly and easily as possible, or they can be an unneeded distraction from the action that is taking place. Either way, they weaken your writing.

Use an alternative to these constructions, such as:

She tripped and fell over a rock on her way to the store.

Since "tripped" and "fell" are the verbs in this sentence, it is important to construct the sentence to show this. "On her way to the store" is simply what she was doing when she tripped and fell. It is not the action.

Another way to avoid looking like an amateur is to avoid using clichés. Clichés are expressions that are commonly used when speaking. For example: "Living life in the fast lane," or "not being worth a plugged nickel" are both worn-out clichés. They are used so often, they no longer mean anything when you use them in your writing. They are not adequate descriptions, and they do not show your readers anything except that you do not know how to be original.

Beware of other clichés that are not only over-used, they do not make any sense anyway. Editors and publishers particularly get tired of expressions such as "she tossed her head." When is the last time you saw anyone toss his or her head? How far did they toss it? While this may sound good to you as the writer, and you may think you are being clever, your descriptions should never rely on clichés or figures of speech that describe an impossible action.

Do not create clichéd characters, either. The computer geek with the pocket protector is a stereotype. He is clichéd. The characters that you create are individuals . Do not follow stereotypes or clichés when you create them. Instead, make them three-dimensional beings that are believable and unique. If you resort to using stereotypes and clichés, your characters will seem more like cartoon characters or bad parodies that are uninteresting and unbelievable. Nothing will turn your reader off more quickly than that.

There are so many clichés in the English language that it is impossible never to use one. You may find yourself in a position where you need to use a cliché to adequately describe a situation. However, before you just type out the cliché, try altering it a bit. Make it less familiar to the reader and tailor it to the situation you need it for. Look at the example below.

The fog was thicker than pea soup that night.

The fog was thicker than watered-down pea soup that night.

When we discuss dialogue avoid using "-ly" adverbs with your speaker attributions. These adverbs serve to tell the reader how something was said, but your dialogue and descriptions should show, instead. It is also easy for newer writers to use these adverbs in sentences to show action, as in the example below.

Angrily she set her coat on the couch.

This may be okay in a first draft because you convey the action taking place, but when you edit, weed out these adverbs. They tell. They do not show.

Try this instead:

She slung her coat onto the couch.

In the first example, the verb is weak and does little to show action, so the writer added an "-ly" adverb to try to strengthen it. However, it only weakened it even more. When you find yourself in a position where you feel that you need to use an "-ly" adverb, try using a stronger verb instead.

Of course, there are always exceptions. If using an "-ly" adverb is the only way that you can completely describe the action taking place, and you are using a strong verb already, then it is not unacceptable or unprofessional to use an adverb.

Nobody is going to tell you to quit using "-ly" adverbs altogether. What experts will tell you is that amateur writers use them frequently. Weed out as many as you can and replace them with stronger verbs. Keep your writing strong. Make sure it shows the action, and make sure you are not whimping out on showing action by using "shortcuts." The more you write using proper mechanics and advanced stylistic techniques, the less you will be inclined to make amateur mistakes. Before you know it, everything you write will come out sounding better than your best piece does right now.

Style is simply defined as the manner of "voice" that a writer uses to tell the audience what is going on. Style is evident in syntax and diction, as well as figures of speech, such as metaphors. With fiction, the style you use may be influenced by the era in which the story takes place, the setting, or the education or background of your narrator or characters.

In non-fiction and journalism, style may be partially dictated by style guides. Style guides give examples of acceptable uses of words, proper spellings, punctuation, and typography to be used when preparing work for publication. Writers use style guides, as do copy editors and proofreaders to ensure factual accuracy and consistency.

Making sure that your style is consistent throughout a body of work lends to the sophistication of your writing. If you have a character who talks with a southern twang early in the book, make sure it carries throughout the book. On the other hand, if you spell "judgement" (British English) in one place in a body of work, make sure you do not spell it as "judgment" (American English) later on. You can always create a style sheet to make note of things like this, so you do not forget when creating longer pieces or sequels.

A list of style guides is included below for your reference:

AIP Style Manual: For Guidance in Writing, Editing, and Preparing Physics

The AMA Style Guide for Business Writing

The AMS Author Handbook (Mathematics) Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors ( Medical editing and proofreading) The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual (Journalism, non-fiction, and fiction as well) Geowriting: A Guide to Writing, Editing, and Printing in Earth Science

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Law) The Chicago Manual of Style (Non-fiction, fiction) Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers The ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors A Style Manual for Citing Microform and Nonprint Media

Other Ways to Make Your Writing More Sophisticated

  • Avoid using too many exclamation points to show emotion. It makes you seem as though you are insecure with the strength of your dialogue.
  • Avoid using italics to put emphasis on words. They are not needed if your dialogue is strong.
  • Avoid flowery, poetic figures of speech. Oftentimes, this pulls the reader out of the story. Use clear descriptions that apply to the scene. There is no need to try to impress anyone with your poetic ability unless you are writing poetry.
  • Avoid a lot of profanity. Amateur writers use profanity for shock value and sophistication, but using it does not achieve either. If your character swears a lot, just make sure it fits with the scene. Otherwise, one profane word in a book has a lot more effect than a dozen on each page.

Substitutions and Poor Phrasing

There are hundreds of phrases that can enhance your writing, but sometimes writers err on the side of "wordiness." They use phrases they believe sound more formal, more interesting, or more unusual than common alternatives. Unfortunately, if these phrases are using more words than needed to get the point across, they just end up cluttering the sentence. Below are several examples of poor phrasing, along with better alternatives.

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400 Descriptive Words List to Make Your Writing Shine

Do you want to make your writing more engaging? Check out this descriptive words list with 400 words you can use today.

As you strive to be a more engaging writer, using  descriptive words  can help. It’s easy to overuse these words, but sprinkling them in here and there is a great way to colorize your writing.

Descriptive words are adjectives , which describe nouns and pronouns, or adverbs, which describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. Identifying and using these will help you write stronger pieces and descriptive essays .

This descriptive word list is a good place to start. It also pairs nicely with our list of mood words .

Descriptive Words List: 400 Words to Make Your Writing More Colorful

Example sentences using adjectives, common endings for adjectives, list of adverbs in english, example sentences using adverbs, a final word on descriptive words list, what are some good descriptive words, what words describe movement.

Descriptive words list

Descriptive words take writing from boring to engaging. Consider this sentence:

  • She swam across the water.

While this tells you what is happening, it has little to help you imagine the scene. If you add some adjectives and adverbs and transform the statement to this:

  • She swam speedily across the choppy water.

Now you have a better picture of what happened. In order to transform your writing in this way, you need a number of descriptive words at the ready, and this list of descriptive words will help.

List of Descriptive Adjectives in English

Ruins of abandoned factory architecture

Adjectives are the most common type of descriptive words, so first we will look at these. These words describe features like shape, texture, color, and size. They help differentiate between items in a group by calling out distinguishing features.

In  English  grammar, you can use the following to describe nouns and pronouns:

  • Adventurous
  • Accomplished
  • Comfortable
  • Embellished
  • Enthusiastic
  • Everlasting
  • Fashionable
  • Intelligent
  • Quarrelsome
  • Querulous 
  • Questionable
  • Thoughtless
  • Uninterested

This list is not exhaustive, and there are many synonyms and other words that could be added. In addition, all colors are considered adjectives and describing words . Nationalities, like American or English, can also fit this list.

As you work on creating descriptive writing, get used to using these and similar words. You might also find our list of pronouns useful.

To better understand how adjectives look in sentences, consider these examples:

  • The fuzzy red fox jumped over the tall fence. (red, tall)
  • We like to visit the beautiful forest (beautiful)
  • The garden shed feels damp this morning. (garden, damp)
  • The trip to Disney World was magical. (Magical)
  • The beautiful bird sat on the rough branch and sang. (beautiful, rough)
  • The woman is short, but her husband is tall. (short, tall)
  • I prefer cold climates. (cold)
  • The luxurious hotel included soft robes for each guest. (luxurious, soft, each)

Because listing all adjectives in the English language is impossible, knowing their endings is helpful, especially for ESL language learners. Some of the common endings for adjectives include:

If you see a word ending in one of these, and you know it isn’t a noun, chances are high it is an adjective.

The English language also uses adverbs to describe verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. These descriptive words show intensity, number, and extent. They often end in -ly.

  • Accidentally
  • Aggressively
  • Apathetically
  • Assertively
  • Astronomically
  • Beautifully
  • Begrudgingly
  • Blearily 
  • Deceivingly
  • Deliberately
  • Differently
  • Dramatically
  • Emotionally
  • Exceptionally
  • Frightfully
  • Frenetically
  • Frivolously
  • Hysterically
  • Inquisitively
  • Intelligently
  • Impressively
  • Ludicrously
  • Methodically
  • Mysteriously
  • Neglectfully
  • Obnoxiously
  • Occasionally
  • Pointlessly
  • Significantly
  • Splendidly 
  • Substantially
  • Technically
  • Unexpectedly
  • Victoriously
  • Vitally 
  • Vivaciously
  • Voluntarily

Again, this is not an exhaustive list. As you learn to identify adverbs or use them in your writing, look for words that describe verbs and other descriptive words that end in -ly.

Editing tip: Sometimes adverbs can also serve as filler words that you can remove or use to slow down or speed up a piece.

To better understand how adverbs show up in sentences as descriptive words, consider these examples:

  • The electric car drove so quietly we didn’t hear it coming. (so, quietly)
  • My dog barked angrily at the intruder. (angrily)
  • The girls sang beautifully. (beautifully)
  • He swam across the pool quickly. (quickly)
  • The box is surprisingly heavy for its size. (surprisingly) 
  • The toddler walked very carefully across the slippery floor. (very, carefully)
  • Language learning is incredibly easy for some students, and incredibly hard for others (incredibly)

As you learn how to become a better writer , descriptive language is a big part of the picture. Adjectives and adverbs are the parts of speech that allow you to describe other things vividly. While you can overuse them, they can add color and interest to your writing when used well.

Keep this list of descriptive words handy. When you have a need, pull it out and find one that fits your writing. Whether you’re writing a sentence, a short story, or an entire novel, you’ll find it easier to get descriptive when you have these words on hand.

Check Like this? Check out our list of sensory words .

FAQs on Descriptive Words List

Descriptive words are words that make something easier to identify by describing its characteristics. Some good words that fit this include: Bright Adventurous Jovial Charming Peaceful

Some descriptive words describe the movement of an object. These include: Swiftly Fluidly Gracefully Smoothly Disjointedly

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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10 Beautiful Words You Can Use in Narrative / Descriptive Writing | Secondary School

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Have you ever asked yourself: what makes a word beautiful? Is it because of what it means or the way it sounds? According to British linguist David Crystal in his article titled, “Phonaesthetically Speaking”, we tend to love words that have three or more syllables and include letters that we enjoy enunciating like “ m ” and “ l ”. Simply put, beautiful words are lovely to read and sound pleasant to our ears.

For Secondary English students, such charming words with positive connotations can be used to bedazzle your reader. Let’s explore ten beautiful words which not only sound great but will also be useful in painting vivid pictures for your examiners (especially for narrative and descriptive writing). With the examples provided below, try coming up with your own sentences to use these words! (:

Narrative / Descriptive Writing

1. Compelling (adj.)

Meaning: (something e.g. a reason, argument) that makes you pay attention to it because it is interesting and exciting

Synonym: enthralling, captivating, gripping

Sentence examples:

I found it hard to look away from his compelling eyes that seemed to ask me to inch closer. It was such a compelling story that I ended up reading the entire book in one sitting.

Narrative / Descriptive Writing

2. Effervescent (adj.)

Meaning: (of people and their behaviour) excited, enthusiastic and full of energy

Synonym: vivacious, animated, bubbly

She has a warm effervescent personality that made her easy to get along with. The effervescent host spoke with infectious energy and was able to bring a smile to not only the contestants on the show, but also the audience at home.

Narrative / Descriptive Writing

3. Euphonious (adj.)

Meaning: (of a sound, especially speech) pleasing to the ear

Synonym: pleasant-sounding, sweet-sounding, honeyed

The euphonious chimes of the bell lulled the baby to sleep. Her euphonious tone made her sound like an angel and I was immediately all ears to what she was explaining.

Narrative / Descriptive Writing

4. Evocative (adj.)

Meaning: bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind

Synonym: reminiscent, suggestive

The writer uses descriptive vocabulary to paint evocative images, moving his readers to tears. The evocative music that she often heard as a child in her grandparents’ house made her miss them dearly.

Narrative / Descriptive Writing

5. Halcyon (adj.)

Meaning: denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful

Synonym: happy, carefree, blissful

My grandmother would often recall the halcyon days of the past when her grocery store business boomed and she was healthy and free to do what she liked. The halcyon summer holidays where we could play outdoors freely in groups without our masks are long gone.

Narrative / Descriptive

6. Lissom (adj.)

Meaning: (of a person or their body) thin, supple, and graceful

Synonym: lithe, elegant, svelte

The lissom dancer mesmerised the audience as she swayed to the music. Perry grew up with horses and always admired how graceful they looked trotting around the stables with their lissom bodies.

Narrative / Descriptive Writing

7. Resplendent (adj.)

Meaning: very bright, attractive and impressive in appearance

Synonym: splendid, magnificent, brilliant

Dressed in resplendent costumes, the children created a beautiful rainbow of colours on the stage. During the Singapore Night Festival in 2019, a resplendent underwater scene full of marine animals was projected onto the building of the National Museum of Singapore.

Narrative / Descriptive Writing

8. Redolent (adj.)

Meaning: having a strong pleasant smell

Synonym: aromatic, perfumed

Although my mother had left for work, the entire house was redolent with the fragrance of her perfume. The kitchen was redolent with the aroma of freshly baked bread, making my mouth water.

Serendiptous | Vocab

9. Serendipitous (adj.)

Meaning: occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way

Synonym: coincidental, lucky

The serendipitous encounter with my primary school classmate after not seeing him for two years led to an enjoyable chat about our shared experience. The scientists made a serendipitous discovery which could lead them to the cure for cancer.

Sublime | Vocab

10. Sublime (adj.)

Meaning: of great excellence or beauty

Synonym: outstanding, grand, majestic, stellar

The Great Barrier Reef is known for its sublime natural seascape full of unique marine life and vibrantly coloured corals. Having devoured the delectable food, we complimented the chef for the sublime meal.

Were you able to come up with your own examples to use the beautiful words in your narrative writing as you were reading this post? Feel free to look them up in a dictionary to familiarise yourself with more contexts where you can use these charming words appropriately.

I hope you would use these beautiful words in your narrative writing. Go forth and apply the new knowledge you have acquired to impress your readers. See you in future posts!

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31 Stylistic Devices for Creative Writers

Today’s guest post is by Rose Scott:

Without figurative language , writing would be plain and shallow. The more stylistic devices you know, the more unique your writing can be. If writing is your passion, you probably already know a dozen or so stylistic devices, but I’m betting there are a few on this list you’ve never heard of.

Take a look at this comprehensive list of stylistic devices and see if any might work in your current WIP (work in progress). Of course, you want to be reasonable and not go overboard with forced prose. But I’m sure you can find great places to utilize these wonderful literary techniques.

1. Adnomination

Repetition of words with the same root. The difference lies in one sound or letter. A nice euphony can be achieved by using this poetic device.

Examples: “Nobody loves no one.” (Chris Isaak). Someone, somewhere, wants something.

2. Allegory

Representation of ideas through a certain form (character, event, etc.). Allegory can convey hidden meanings through symbolic figures, actions, and imagery.

Example: Animal Farm by George Orwell is all about the Russian Revolution. And characters stand for working and upper classes, military forces, and political leaders.

3. Alliteration

The repeated sound of the first consonant in a series of words, or the repetition of the same sounds of the same kind at the beginning of words or in stressed syllables of a phrase.

Examples: A lazy lying lion. Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers. Sally sells seashells by the seashore.

4. Allusion

Reference to a myth, character, literary work, work of art, or an event.

Example: I feel like I’m going down the rabbit hole (an allusion to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll).

5. Anaphora

Word repetition at the beginnings of sentences in order to give emphasis to them.

Example: “Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.” (Martin Luther King)

Opposite: Epiphora. Word repetition at the end of sentences.

Example: “And that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (Abraham Lincoln)

6. Antithesis

Emphasizing contrast between two things or fictional characters.

Example: “Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

7. Apostrophe

Directed speech to someone who is not present or to an object.

Example: “Work on, my medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught.” (William Shakespeare)

8. Assonance

Repetition of vowels in order to create internal rhyming.

Example: “Hear the mellow wedding bells.” (Edgar Allan Poe)

Related: Consonance. Repetition of consonants.

9. Cataphora

Mentioning of the person or object further in the discourse.

Examples: I met him yesterday, your boyfriend who was wearing the cool hat. If you want some, here’s some cheese. After he had received his orders, the soldier left the barracks.

Arranging text in such a manner that tension gradually ascends.

Example. He was a not bad listener, a good speaker and an amazing performer.

Opposite: Anticlimax. Tension descends.

11. Charactonym (or Speaking Name)

Giving fictional characters names that describe them.

Example: Scrooge, Snow White.

12. Ellipsis

Word or phrase omission.

Example: I speak lots of languages, but you only speak two (languages).

13. Euphemism

Replacing offensive or combinations of words with lighter equivalents.

Example: Visually challenged (blind); meet one’s maker (die)

Opposite: Dysphemism . Replacing a neutral word with a harsher word.

14. Epigram

Memorable and brief saying, usually satirical.

Example: “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” (Virginia Woolf)

15. Hyperbole

Exaggeration of the statement.

Example: If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times.

Opposite: Litotes. Understatement.

Asking a question and answering it right away.

Example: Are you going to leave now? I don’t think so.

There are three types of irony:

  • Verbal (Antiphrasis) – using words to express something different from their literal meaning for ironic effect (”I’m so excited to burn the midnight oil and write my academic paper all week long”).
  • Situational – result differs from the expectation (Bruce Robertson, a character of Filth, is a policeman. Nonetheless, he does drugs, resorts to violence and abuse, and so on).
  • Dramatic – situation is understandable for the audience but not the fictional character/actor (audience sees that the fictional characters/actors will be killed now, though the characters don’t expect it).

Describing people/objects by enumerating their traits.

Example: Lock, stock, and barrel (gun); heart and soul (entirety)

18. Metalepsis

Referencing one thing through the means of another thing, which is related to the first one.

Example: “Stop judging people so strictly—you live in a glass house too.” (A hint at the proverb: people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.)

19. Metaphor

Comparing two different things that have some characteristics in common.

Example: “Love is clockworks and cold steel.” (U2)

20. Metonymy

Giving a thing another name that is associated with it.

Example: The heir to the crown was Richard. (the crown stands for authority)

21. Onomatopoeia

Imitating sounds in writing.

Example: oink, ticktock, tweet tweet

22. Oxymoron

Combining contradictory traits.

Example: Living dead; terribly good; real magic

23. Parallelism

Arranging a sentence in such a manner that it has parallel structure.

Example: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I will learn.” (Benjamin Franklin)

Opposite: Chiasmus . An inverted parallelism.

Examples: “To stop, too fearful, and too faint to go.” (Oliver Goldsmith); “My job is not to represent Washington to you but to represent you to Washington.” (Barack Obama)

24. Parenthesis

Interrupting a sentence by inserting extra information enclosed in brackets, commas, or dashes.

Example: Our family (my mother, sister, and grandfather) had a barbeque this past weekend.

25. Personification

Attributing human characteristics to nonhumans.

Example: Practically all animals in fairy tales act like human beings. They speak and have traits that are typical of people.

A kind of wordplay. Here are a few types of puns:

  • Antanaclasis – repetition of the same word or phrase, but with a different meaning (“Cats like Felix like Felix.”—“Felix” catfood slogan).
  • Malapropism – usage of the incorrect word instead of the word with a similar sound (“optical delusion” instead of “optical illusion”).
  • Paradox – self-contradictory fact; however, it can be partially true (“I can resist anything but temptation.”—Oscar Wilde).
  • Paraprosdokian – arranging a sentence in such a manner so the last part is unexpected (You’re never too old to learn something stupid).
  • Polyptoton – repetition of the words with the same root (“The things you  own  end up  owning  you.”—Chuck Palahniuk).

27. Rhetorical question

Questioning without expecting the answer.

Example: Why not? Are you kidding me?

Direct comparison.

Example: “Your heart is like an ocean, mysterious and dark.” (Bob Dylan)

29. Synecdoche

Generalization or specification based on a definite part/trait of the object.

Example: He just got new wheels. (car)

30. Tautology

Saying the same thing twice in different ways.

Example: first priority; I personally; repeat again

31. Zeugma (or Syllepsis)

Applying a word to a few other words in the sentence in order to give different meaning.

Example: Give neither counsel nor salt till you are asked for it.

Quite a huge list, right? With all these stylistic devices, your writing can potentially be so much more attractive. If you find it difficult to memorize them all, here’s what I recommend you do: make flashcards. Write a stylistic device on one side of the flashcard and its meaning on the other side, then work on memorizing a few a day. Voila! Enjoy your learning and writing.

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great post! thanks Rose, for a super stellar list of dynamic devices! i’ve saved the list for future and fair-constant reference. there’s always something good on this blog! Merry Christmas everyone!!

Oh man, it’s like Christmas has come early. I love posts like this – and I’ll both share it *and* copy it to my desktop ha!

Items I didn’t know about but immediately fell in love with: adnomination, anaphora, hypophora (I hadn’t realised, but I do this all of the time, which now seems pretty annoying!), and zeugma. Thank you once again!

Glad you enjoyed this post! Have a happy Christmas!

Thanks much for you “31 Stylistic Devices … …” I was in the process of writing a transcript when I sort of stumbled across the need to correctly define a scenario.

I did a quick surf, directly asking for what I wanted, this popped up. I scanned your list and had the “Eureka!” moment. “METAPHOR!”

It’s really great of you also sharing without obligation. We do a lot of that in our realm of things.

Okay! Thanks again! Please, have a great weekend!

P.S. For you Ms. Lakin. Thanks for making this site available! Please, have a great weekend, as well!

Thanks for the kind words! Glad you are getting some benefit from the blog’s content!

Do you have a list of stylised paragraphs? Not just the main 4 (descriptive, narrative, expository, and persuasive), but other types of paragraphs that apply rhetorical ornaments and devices.

Forgot to say thank you for this lovely and informative post.

Wow this post has boost my understanding of the analysing the prose techniques in a book. Thank u very much

I greatly appreciate the time and effort you put into constructing this list. I especially enjoy how you introduced me to unfamiliar and complex stylistic devices. I will attempt to incorporate these techniques in my future writing. Synecdoche is a wonderful device that I have not heard of before, I’ll have to steal it :P. Is there any way I can contact you? I would love to have a nerdy conversation about English!

Sincerely, Jenny Wales

It was interesting when you talked about how parallelism arranges sentences so their structure is parallel to each other. I’ve been wanting to find some poetry online to help me sort through my emotions from a loved one’s death last month. Thanks for teaching me these writing devices to look out for so I can understand the poems as effectively as possible.

Hi Rose I like your terms and I am using it on my writing my thesis on stylistics.

Actually, there are 32 stylistic devices in your list, since there are two no. 17.

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Transitional Words and Phrases

One of your primary goals as a writer is to present ideas in a clear and understandable way. To help readers move through your complex ideas, you want to be intentional about how you structure your paper as a whole as well as how you form the individual paragraphs that comprise it. In order to think through the challenges of presenting your ideas articulately, logically, and in ways that seem natural to your readers, check out some of these resources: Developing a Thesis Statement , Paragraphing , and Developing Strategic Transitions: Writing that Establishes Relationships and Connections Between Ideas.

While clear writing is mostly achieved through the deliberate sequencing of your ideas across your entire paper, you can guide readers through the connections you’re making by using transitional words in individual sentences. Transitional words and phrases can create powerful links between your ideas and can help your reader understand your paper’s logic.

In what follows, we’ve included a list of frequently used transitional words and phrases that can help you establish how your various ideas relate to each other. We’ve divided these words and phrases into categories based on the common kinds of relationships writers establish between ideas.

Two recommendations: Use these transitions strategically by making sure that the word or phrase you’re choosing matches the logic of the relationship you’re emphasizing or the connection you’re making. All of these words and phrases have different meanings, nuances, and connotations, so before using a particular transitional word in your paper, be sure you understand its meaning and usage completely, and be sure that it’s the right match for your paper’s logic. Use these transitional words and phrases sparingly because if you use too many of them, your readers might feel like you are overexplaining connections that are already clear.

Categories of Transition Words and Phrases

Causation Chronology Combinations Contrast Example

Importance Location Similarity Clarification Concession

Conclusion Intensification Purpose Summary

Transitions to help establish some of the most common kinds of relationships

Causation– Connecting instigator(s) to consequence(s).

accordingly as a result and so because

consequently for that reason hence on account of

since therefore thus

Chronology– Connecting what issues in regard to when they occur.

after afterwards always at length during earlier following immediately in the meantime

later never next now once simultaneously so far sometimes

soon subsequently then this time until now when whenever while

Combinations Lists– Connecting numerous events. Part/Whole– Connecting numerous elements that make up something bigger.

additionally again also and, or, not as a result besides even more

finally first, firstly further furthermore in addition in the first place in the second place

last, lastly moreover next second, secondly, etc. too

Contrast– Connecting two things by focusing on their differences.

after all although and yet at the same time but

despite however in contrast nevertheless nonetheless notwithstanding

on the contrary on the other hand otherwise though yet

Example– Connecting a general idea to a particular instance of this idea.

as an illustration e.g., (from a Latin abbreviation for “for example”)

for example for instance specifically that is

to demonstrate to illustrate

Importance– Connecting what is critical to what is more inconsequential.

chiefly critically

foundationally most importantly

of less importance primarily

Location– Connecting elements according to where they are placed in relationship to each other.

above adjacent to below beyond

centrally here nearby neighboring on

opposite to peripherally there wherever

Similarity– Connecting to things by suggesting that they are in some way alike.

by the same token in like manner

in similar fashion here in the same way

likewise wherever

Other kinds of transitional words and phrases Clarification

i.e., (from a Latin abbreviation for “that is”) in other words

that is that is to say to clarify to explain

to put it another way to rephrase it

granted it is true

naturally of course

finally lastly

in conclusion in the end

to conclude


in fact indeed no

of course surely to repeat

undoubtedly without doubt yes

for this purpose in order that

so that to that end

to this end

in brief in sum

in summary in short

to sum up to summarize

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

Improving Your Writing Style

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Clear, Concise Sentences

Use the active voice

Put the action in the verb

Tidy up wordy phrases

Reduce wordy verbs

Reduce prepositional phrases

Reduce expletive constructions

Avoid using vague nouns

Avoid unneccessarily inflated words

Avoid noun strings

Connecting Ideas Through Transitions

Using Transitional Words and Phrases

English Harmony

Robby Kukurs

I’m Robby, and I’m a non-native English speaker. Throughout my entire life I’ve always wanted to speak in English fluently, but because of the way English is taught in schools, I always struggled with my spoken English.

I couldn't learn to speak fluent English for 5 years - read about what I was doing to learn to speak fluently HERE - are YOU in the same situation?

Then, one fine day, after years of constant pursuit of English fluency, I realized the key aspect of spoken English improvement – learning English phrases and word combinations instead of studying grammar rules and trying to construct sentences in your head from scratch!

If you’re interested in improving your English fluency too, please check out the English Harmony System which is a product I created to help all my fellow foreigners to better their spoken English and achieve so much more in professional, social and personal life.

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

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Useful Sophisticated English Words & Phrases

If you are new here please read this first.

Sophisticated English Vocabulary

When I arrived in Ireland 15 years ago, I went onto a mission of learning English vocabulary because I thought it was going to help me overcome my fluency issues.

As a result, I acquired hundreds upon hundreds long English vocabulary lists also containing plenty of words that even native English speakers don’t use and they simply didn’t have a clue what they meant when I tried using them in real life!

I like to call such English vocabulary “sophisticated” , and I’ve also written extensively on this topic on my blog, here’s a couple of articles:

  • Don’t Learn Some Obscure English Words that Even Native Speakers DON’T KNOW!
  • Simple vs Sophisticated Vocabulary? It’s All Just Semantics (Interpretation)!

Now I know better than to learn English words that nobody uses in day-to-day communication; I’d rather use to learn the vocabulary I already know in DIFFERENT WAYS thus enabling me to speak about virtually any topic.

Sometimes, however, knowing how to use certain sophisticated English words comes in handy and as it was pointed out by one of my YouTube commentators, some English tests and exams may include such vocabulary.

So, without further ado, let’s learn some useful English expressions containing words that you may not have heard before – or maybe you’ve heard them a few times and wondered what they actually mean.

Needless to say, it’s strongly advised you acquire this sophisticated vocabulary by learning the entire word combination thus ensuring you’ll be able to USE the word in question! ( Read this article to understand what exactly I’m talking about here )

NEW!  Clairvoyant – you know the way sometimes people would assume that you know something while in reality you haven’t got any idea what they’re talking about? In situations like that I’d normally say “Do you think I’m a psychic or what?” You can, however, use this sophisticated word instead – clairvoyant – it describes pretty much the same concept. “Do you think I’m a clairvoyant or what?”

NEW! Serendipity  – personally I love this word – and you’d use it to describe an event which is a result of a very, very big, almost impossible coincidence that has a very happy ending. A typical example would be two people meeting each other against all odds and finding out that they were almost destined to meet.

NEW! Seismic shift   – this English collocation will come in really handy when describing a massive, fundamental change: “There’s been a seismic shift in the government’s stance in relation to the water charges – believe it or not, but they’ve been abolished which nobody could see coming!”

NEW! Pivotal role   – when you want to describe something or someone playing a central role in the process, this is exactly the kind of expression to use: “My master’s degree in IT played a pivotal role in the recruitment process – without it I wouldn’t have been hired.”

NEW!  Obnoxious  behavior – this word is used to described something extremely unpleasant – typically other people’s behavior or their qualities. Here’s a good example: “I’m sorry, but I just can’t stand Allison’s obnoxious behavior so I end up avoiding her company altogether.”

NEW!  Ludicrous  – have you ever experienced a situation that is absurd to the point of being funny? Imagine, for instance, being pulled over by the cops, getting checked for alcohol in your breath and actually being tested positive despite the fact you hadn’t been drinking before… It would be ludicrous simply because it would be very last thing you’d ever expect and if you’re a person endowed with a sense of humor you’d be able to laugh about it and demand a second opinion on the basis of the breathalyzer being wrong!

Exhilarating experience – super-exciting experience such as a parachute jump, for example.

Ad nauseam – when some activity is repeated all over and over again till you’re sick of it, you can use this phrase to describe how you feel about it. For example – “I’ve tried to explain it to him ad nauseam but he just doesn’t understand what I’m talking about…”

Atrocious crime – especially vicious and cruel crime resulting in a number of victims.

Begging and cajoling – when you’re trying to convince someone to change their mind and they finally give in, you can say that “After plenty of begging and cajoling I finally managed to convince my mom to allow me to go to the trip to Utah.”

Detrimental effect – a bad, negative effect.

Eliminate from the equation – exclude something from a number of factors to be considered in relation to the main issue. Example: “When talking about day-to-day stress management, it’s important to eliminate unnecessary distractions from the equation so that you can be more focused on your tasks at hand.”

Endowed with the ability – When someone or something is endowed with the ability, it simply means they possess (have) this particular ability. “All human beings are endowed with the ability to love and take care of others.”

Evoke emotions – when something makes us feel a certain way. For example – “Hard rock evokes depressive emotions whereas upbeat, cheerful music lifts up our mood.”

Gain momentum – normally used in business English to describe economical processes that require some time to reach their full potential. A good example would be a start-up business that demands a lot of investment and effort to establish, but when it’s gained momentum, it practically starts to run itself.

Heinous crime – especially gross and unhuman crime.

Unilateral decision – decision made by only one person or group of people without taking others’ opinion into consideration. This phrase was used a lot during the financial crisis a few years ago in Ireland (it’s where I live so that’s why I’m using the example of Ireland!) when the government decided to guarantee bank losses without taking into account the opinion of other political parties.

Hinder communication – to prevent communication. The word “hinder” can be used pretty much as a substitute to the word “prevent” in any context!

Conditions that exacerbate … – this phrase is most commonly used in medical context when speaking about diseases that may get worse because of certain factors. Here’s a good example – “Are you aware that you work in conditions that may exacerbate your asthma? You should change your job immediately!”

Illicit affairs – “illicit” simply means “illegal” – so when you hear the word “illicit” used in combination with words such as “affairs”, it means that some criminal, unlawful activities are being discussed.

Oblivious to – totally unaware of something. When a person is going through a really intense emotional suffering, they may become oblivious to their surroundings and people around them at times. Also, when you’re simply deep in your thoughts, you may become temporarily oblivious to what’s going on around you.

Ambiguous situation – a situation that can be interpreted in two ways; it’s when there’s no clear-cut answer to a particular problem. In sports, for example, judges’ decisions are sometimes disputed but it’s all because the situation during a game is so ambiguous that it’s almost impossible to ascertain (find out) the truth. Also, when someone sends you an e-mail, for example, and you can interpret their instructions in many ways, you can say that the instructions are ambiguous and you can’t really take action in case you get it wrong.

Eloquent – fluent, someone who has a way with words. If you can speak fluent English and you’re really good at it, you can say you’re an eloquent English speaker. Just bear in mind – you have to be REALLY good at it to be considered eloquent – not every native English speaker is eloquent, for that matter.

Media- perpetuated – when certain subject is being constantly mentioned in media – Internet, newspapers, radio and TV – it’s said that it’s “media-perpetuated”. Let’s say, for example, the current obsession with dieting and slimming has led to an increasing number of eating disorders among teenagers, and it’s strongly believed it’s a direct result of the media-perpetuated images of skinny models and celebrities.

Transcends boundaries – surpasses, goes beyond certain limits. Love and compassion transcends any racial and religious boundaries – meaning that the concepts of love and compassion don’t choose people based on their origin and religious beliefs.

He’s adamant that… – he insists that… You can use this sophisticated English word when describing a 100% certainty of someone or yourself. “He’s adamant that the goods were sent out to the customer.”

Unsolicited advice – advice that hasn’t been asked for. If someone is telling you what to do without you having asked them for advice, you can say it’s unsolicited advice.

Amalgamate the data – you can use this expression when you’re putting some figures together. For example, when you’re doing a stock take of inventory and then all those figures have to be combined, you can say that you’re going to amalgamate the data so you won’t be able to attend to other work-related duties. Personally I love this English sophisticated word because it originates from the noun “amalgam” which means “ an alloy of mercury with another metal” and I think it’s got a unique vibe to it!

Irrevocably linked – you can say that something’s irrevocably linked when it can’t be undone, when it can’t be taken apart. This English sophisticated collocation is best used in figurative speech – for example: “The tobacco trade and government tax income are irrevocably linked and I simply don’t believe the State wants us to quit smoking for good.”

Subliminal aversion to – subconscious (you’re not even aware of it) disgust towards something.

Excruciating pain – very intense, strong pain.

Perseverance is the key to success – “perseverance” describes the quality of someone who’s being very persistent and hard-working.

Good luck with your future endeavors – good luck with your future attempts to achieve something, to achieve goals etc.

Paramount – very, very important, top-priority, of the utmost importance. “It’s paramount that you log out of the system first before shutting the PC down or else all the data will be lost!”

Don’t exert yourself too much – don’t put too much pressure on yourself, don’t work too hard. You can say this kind of thing to a friend of yours who’s just been sick and has just returned back to work, for example.

Reciprocal – something that goes both ways; mutual. If someone tells you “It was nice meeting you!”, you can say – “Reciprocal!” – which means the experience of you meeting them was also pleasant. Of course, it’s going to sound very smart, but it’s going to be correct nonetheless. Another use of this word – “ reciprocal links ” – it’s used among website owners and bloggers to describe links pointing to each other’s websites.

Fluctuations – this economy related English word describes a process that changes over time – especially price changes. Here’s an example: “Forex traders make money by trading on currency price fluctuations”. It can be also used in other contexts; I, for example, like to describe the changing English fluency (one day you can speak fluently, the next day it’s gone down followed by another day of good fluency) with this word – “ English fluency fluctuations “.

Adjacent  street – if you describe a street using the word “adjacent”, it simply means that the street in question meets another street you were talking about previously; basically when two streets meet at an angle, they’re called “adjacent streets”. A simpler way to explain the same thing would be by saying that the two streets meet – but you can use this fancy word just as well.

Common denominator – strictly speaking, this is a maths term and it’s used when operating with fractions. In everyday English speech though, this fancy expression containing the word “denominator” can be used when referring to common traits in people and common characteristics in pretty much anything. Here’s an example: “All rich and powerful people share the same common denominator – they know exactly what they want in life and they aren’t afraid of taking risks.”

Dispel a stereotype – sounds really smart, doesn’t it? Here’s how the same expression would sound using simpler English words – “bust a myth”. Now you start getting the idea, don’t you? Basically dispelling a stereotype means to prove that a certain belief is wrong, for example – the typical stereotype of blonde women being stupid, or foreign English speakers being bad at understanding English just because their speech isn’t fluent.

Elaborate on something – this sophisticated English word can be used to describe the process of providing more details on something. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, you’re sitting in a class and your teacher wants you to explain a particular concept. Here’s what he’d say: “Alright, but now could you elaborate on it, please?” Just please bear in mind that the word “elaborate” can be pronounced in two different ways – depending on whether it’s an adjective or a verb. In this case it’s a verb, so its pronunciation is as follows: [ɪˈlæbərəit] – pay a particular attention to the last syllable which is pronounced as in the word “ATE”.

Gravitate towards – does this word have anything to do with Earth’s gravitation? Well, yes and no! No, because it’s not about physics, and yes, because it does in fact entail a movement in a certain direction due to a certain level of attraction by something. Basically you can use it when talking about your future plans and explaining what you are most likely to do – in other words, what attracts you, what you are gravitating towards. And here comes an example: “Well, even though I graduated as an engineer, I’m gravitating towards more academic approach – something like a university lecturer.”

Predict all eventualities – “eventuality” is just a fancy word for “possibility”, so to predict all eventualities means to predict all possibilities, all possible outcomes of a certain event. Most likely you’d be using this expression to say that it’s not really possible to predict all eventualities and you’ll always end up with taking a certain amount of risk no matter what you do.

Now, this list is by no means an exhaustive list of all sophisticated English vocabulary that you may ever need.

It’s a good place to start, however, and you can rest assured that all these words are actually used in media and also in conversations by real English speaking people unlike some other obscure words that 99.9% of English speaking people have NEVER heard.

So basically this list has been created based upon my own years’ long experience communicating with English speaking people at work and various institutions as well as consuming plenty of written English material.

P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!

English Harmony System

P.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out the English Harmony System HERE!

I know many of these words, but the challenge is to use these phrases in right context in practice. That’s why practicing these words are utmost important.

i was looking for fancy words but i somehow already knew what 80% of this meant, might be that i read too much and im dumb or im actually alot less dumber than i thought lol

searches a page about exquisite vocabulary, comments agains exquisite vocabulary

I mean, i wouldn’t think i would use it on a day to day basis, but for elaborating your writing and for your stories i think that’s interesting to know, because if not, it could get boring or maybe you would have a bunch of overused words.

Thank you for your sophisticated vocabulary list. It is quite instrumental for all non-native speakers including me to improve my English skills. And then, I admire your effort to learn English.

Agreed very good article.

what other word for sophisticated

I suggest NOT using that exquisite vocabulary, keep it simple. I’ve been there in multiple locations and native English speakers don’t have a clue what that bunch of words mean.

thanks, I do hope that with this, my vocabulary can gain momentum!

No. Adjacent would not be at all applicable to parallel whatsoever. Adjacent means to be connected at some point. His explanation is accurate.

May I suggest adding immaculate, it means perfect or without flaw. I use it in America often and in my opinion sounds sophisticated.

It is actually thank you, I guess you have to learn spellings too

Noone gives a damn, for natives like us its not surprising

My bad, I wasn’t able to view it since the last 2 weeks. Rest assured though, that I will consider it in my reading. THANKS SO MUCH!

Thank you for your appreciation. Have you checked also the resources available on English Harmony System as well ?

I respect your effort, although I request for definitions for the new words please. Thank you for the list!

very good but not wholely correct Illicit would be more immoral rather than illegal – an illicit affair would be something you shouldn’t really do – like have an affair, not necessarily illegal but immoral adjacent literally translates as next to so would refer to roads running parallel to each other not crossing or to a road running past a park. – the adjacent roads were either side of the park – the road were adjacent to the park.

how can I get this vocabulary list

Hi Robby, these are some of the best and most heard words/phrases now a days..keep up the good work man.. waiting for more from you

On further examination I knew all of these words.

This is a fairly simple list. Knew all but one or two.

These word are very helpful to my IELTS test. Thanks a lot.

You are welcome! Happy to hear that!

Happy to hear that! Good luck for the exams!

These are really helpful thankyou

That’s gonna be real helpful for my igcse exams

You’re welcome, I’m glad you like it! 😉

Thankiew for these remarkable bombastic vocabulary!

Thanks Diana for the feedback, much appreciated!

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Bank of ambitious vocabulary for creative writing

Bank of ambitious vocabulary for creative writing

Subject: English

Age range: 11-14

Resource type: Worksheet/Activity

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Last updated

8 August 2023

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Just a bank of ambitious vocabulary for creative writing.

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English Language Paper 1 Question 5 and Paper 2 Question 5

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Will be really useful as a resource students can build on!

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Excellent, thanks.


Some terrific vocabulary here - going straight up on my ambitious vocab board, and being updated weekly with target vocab! Thanks!

Gillian Deller

really useful

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sophisticated phrases for creative writing

170 cool, unique, and beautiful English words to spark a little joy

Karolina Assi

Karolina Assi

Have you ever experienced serendipity? Do you have a nemesis? Are you a flibbertigibbet? Unless you know what these words mean, you won’t know the answer to these questions!

And if you don’t know what these words mean - don’t worry! It’s estimated that there are 171,146 words in use in the English language, plus around 47,156 obsolete words. That’s a lot of words! No wonder you don’t know all of them, especially if you’re not a native speaker.

However, if you’re as passionate about learning languages as we are (and if you’re reading our blog, then you must be), you know how fun it can be to learn new words in a foreign language. Having a vast vocabulary can not only help you express yourself better, but it’ll also make you sound more eloquent.

So, in this list, we’ve gathered over 170 unique, cool, and beautiful English words that you will love.

Script writers enjoying cool, unique and beautiful English words.

Beautiful English words and their meanings

While it’s often said that French and Spanish are the most romantic and beautiful languages, English also has its fair share of beautiful words. You may already know a couple, such as solitude , euphoria , or labyrinth .

If you want to expand your vocabulary with beautifully-sounding words, below you’ll find a list of what we believe to be the most beautiful English words, accompanied by their meanings.

Beautiful English words

While the beauty of a word is subjective and may differ for each of us, many English words are undeniably mellifluous (yes, that’s one of them). This list is the quintessence of the most beautiful English words.

Ready to further your career with a new language?

Get the language skills, cultural understanding and confidence to open up your world with Berlitz.

Beautiful English phrases, sayings, and idioms

Beautiful words lead to beautiful phrases and expressions. English is full of literal and metaphorical expressions that inspire us, bring us joy, or make us wonder about the meaning of life.

Below is a list of some of the most beautiful English phrases, sayings, and expressions.

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

Cool English words that will make you chuckle

The English language is full of strange, funny words. Some of them are so odd that you can’t help but wonder how they became part of the language! Others sound so funny that they’ll certainly make you chuckle. Love a bit of gibberish? You might enjoy being flabbergasted when you discover the longest words in English here !

Popular slang words in English you need to know

If you’re an internet person who scrolls through Instagram and watches TikTok, you might have seen some words you thought you knew used in a completely different context. While some vocabulary may seem like some sort of a Gen Z code to you, it’s actually quite fun to play around with once you understand it.

With this list of the most popular slang words in English, you’ll be fluent in the TikTok lingo in no time. You can also find 321 more fun American slang expressions here .

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

And even more unique English words…

Did you know that English has a word for throwing someone out of the window? You’ll be surprised to find out that there are lots of English words that even native speakers aren’t always aware of!

From clinomania to petrichor , you’re about to discover a whole new world of unique words in English that you had no idea existed.

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

Feeling effervescent?

Learning English words can leave you feeling light-headed!  But there’s no need to be lackadaisical or woebegone about it. Everyone can learn new beautiful words in English with a bit of practice, even if it’s a lot of gobbledygook.

We hope that this list of the weirdest, funniest, and most beautiful English words will turn you into a true logophile with an ineffable epeolatry.

Keep up the free English vocabulary fun here.

Expand your knowledge of English

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Say What You Feel: 15 Advanced English Phrases for Expressing Emotions

Advanced English phrases allow you to express yourself more fully.

In this post, we’ll explain how you can recognize the key elements of advanced English phrases that’ll help you talk about emotions—and practically anything else—in a precise, engaging way.

Then, we’ll show you 15 specific advanced English phrases you can add to your toolbox right away.

15 Advanced English Phrases for Better Expressing Emotions

Ways to keep learning advanced english expressions, phrasal verbs, and one more thing....

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

Now that you know how to recognize the building blocks of advanced English phrases, here are some great expressions you can use when describing emotions . These phrases are organized by the emotion they represent.

Girl smiling in front of trees

1. Flying high

Meaning: very happy.

She’s flying high after the successful product launch.

2. Pumped up

Meaning: very excited about something.

He’s pumped up for his first half-marathon race this weekend.

3. On cloud nine

Meaning: to be extremely happy

He’s been on cloud nine ever since he got the job.

Girl with a sad expression putting a hand in her hair

4. Be down in the dumps

Meaning: to feel unhappy or without hope.

I always feel down in the dumps when I go back to work after a long weekend.

5. Be at the end of your rope (American); Be at the end of your tether (British)

Meaning: to feel very upset because you’re no longer able to deal with a difficult situation.

Helen is at the end of her rope after looking for a job for months without any luck.

6. Grief-stricken

Meaning: extremely sad.

After his partner died in a car accident, he was left grief-stricken.

Man with an angry expression

7. Bite someone’s head off

Meaning: to respond with anger to someone.

I just asked one question to confirm his request, and my boss bit my head off.

8. In a foul mood

Meaning: to be irritable, angry or depressed.

She’s scared to ask for a day off as her boss is in a foul mood today.

9. Drive up the wall

Meaning: to annoy or irritate someone.

His constant whining drove me up the wall, so I left.

Girl looking scared in bed with the covers pulled over her mouth

10. Have/get/feel butterflies in your stomach

Meaning: to feel very nervous or excited about something that you have to do, especially something important.

I’m going to have the first meeting with a big client tomorrow, and I’m feeling butterflies in my stomach.

11. Afraid of your own shadow

Meaning: very easily frightened.

After reading “Dracula,”  she became afraid of her own shadow.

12. Petrified of

Meaning: extremely frightened, especially so that you cannot move or decide what to do.

In the  “Harry Potter”  series, Ron Weasley is petrified of spiders.

Confused woman scratches her head

13. Feel out of it

Meaning: to not feel in a state of one’s normal mind.

He just woke up from a night of heavy drinking and felt so out of it.

14. Puzzle over

Meaning: to think carefully about someone or something for a long time and try to understand them.

I puzzled over the assignment for a few days before I decided to ask my professor for clarification.

15. Ambivalent about

Meaning: feeling two different things about someone or something at the same time, for example, that you like them and dislike them.

He’s ambivalent about quitting his job to start his own business; he wants his freedom, but there are risks.

Recognizing phrases and linguistic (language) patterns will help you become fluent much faster.

There are a lot of emotion-related phrases that can be confusing if you try to break them into their individual words. Understanding the key elements that typically make up these expressions will help you remember new advanced phrases faster.

Something that is also difficult when understanding English phrases is the surrounding context. A simple phrase such as “I’m sorry” in English can express regret, sympathy or can even be used before asking an embarrassing or difficult question.

Thus, it is essential to understand the context and how it changes a specific phrase when learning English phrases for emotions. For example, check out the video below to see how expressions and phrases related to “I’m sorry” can change depending on the context.

Immersing yourself in English from home is incredibly helpful for learning cultural context. You could also make use of a virtual immersion program for additional structure.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

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In the meantime, here are different aspects of English that you can study so you’ll better at learning advanced expressions:

Many English expressions for emotions rely on idioms.  Idioms can seem nonsensical at first, but once you’re familiar with them, they allow you to express a lot of information in just a few words.

Some idioms and expressions come with elaborate background stories. Take “Catch-22” as an example.

This idiom comes from Joseph Heller’s novel of the same name. In the book, an army psychiatrist uses the term to explain the regulations that made it impossible for pilots to be excused from flying dangerous missions. The pilots need to be declared insane in order to be excused from service, but any pilot who wants to be excused from these harrowing (troubling and distressing) missions must be sane. So there’s no escape.

English speakers have since used this phrase when they refer to a dilemma or a paradoxical situation, or a situation from which there’s no escape because the rules contradict each other.

Check out these guides that’ll help you become an English idiom pro:

  • Awesome Color Idioms That Will Improve Your English Fluency
  • 103 English Idioms You Should Know to Sound Fluent
  • Speak English Naturally with 37 Common English Idioms
  • 172 Essential Business English Phrases and Idioms to Get You Through Any Business Interaction

A collocate is a word that is habitually juxtaposed (put next to) another word. It means certain combinations of words appear more frequently than others, making them sound more natural.

For example, the word “impact” is regularly found in the collocation “make an impact.” You wouldn’t hear a native speaker say “invent an impact,” even though both “make” and “invent” have similar meanings. There’s also the word “create,” another similar word to “make” and “invent,” which is only sometimes used alongside the word “impact.”

Thus, in comparison:

  • If you were to write the phrase  “make an impact,” your text would read effortlessly.
  • If you wrote  “invent an impact,” people might still understand what you meant. However, it doesn’t flow and most would mark this as an incorrect usage if you were taking a test.
  • If you used  “create an impact,” some readers might stop and consider if there’s anything special about this impact. Is the effect unique? Is it that no one else ever “creates” such an impact and this is the first of its kind?

You’ll find collocations in the list of emotional phrases above (for example: “grief-stricken,” “flying high”). Memorizing these word pairings will quickly make your English sound much more natural.

If you want to learn more about collocation, you can start with a good online dictionary or acquire a decent reference book, such as “A Dictionary of Active Fluency Combinations”  or the “Shortcut to English Collocations.”

Phrasal verbs are a great tool for  learning advanced English expressions , as they allow you to describe many different actions or states of being simply by combining one word with different prepositions.

Take the word stand  (to be in an upright position). You’ve probably studied this word from the very beginning. You probably also know your prepositions : against, aside, at, by, for, in, over, etc. Just put them together, and you have:

  • stand against (oppose)
  • stand aside (resign)
  • stand by/with [someone or something] (support [someone or something])
  • stand for (signify)

You can see how these simple combinations can help you easily expand your vocabulary without having to make a whole new set of vocabulary flashcards.

Phrasal verbs can commonly be found in expressions regarding emotion. You might get  carried away  (absorbed, overly excited) by a movie you love. A frustrating situation at work might  get to (bother) you, or you might  get over it (cease to be bothered by it).

Advanced English phrases provide you with the flexibility to get your messages across and the chance to impress native speakers and potential employers . Start with these 15 expressions to let your family, friends, colleagues or even strangers know exactly how you feel.

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials , as you can see here:


If you want to watch it, the FluentU app has probably got it.

The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.


FluentU lets you learn engaging content with world famous celebrities.

For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:


FluentU lets you tap to look up any word.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.


FluentU helps you learn fast with useful questions and multiple examples. Learn more.

The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.

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50 Sophisticated Words You Should Start Using

It might be time for phasing out some of the played-out words in your vocabulary and replacing them with creative alternatives? Don’t feel bad; everyone you know has been guilty of letting a “fail” or an “LOL” slip at least once in a while. But those words are tired. They need a long rest. Here are 50 sophisticated utterances to deploy instead.

Cyber Substitutes

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

  • Supreme : Epic doesn’t mean what you think it means. Use this instead, meaning classic or perfect.
  • Blunder : For the love of grammar, “fail” is not a noun. On the other hand, “ blunder ” works as both a noun and a verb. How supreme.
  • Triumph : Instead of “ FTW ,” you can say, “ For The Triumph! ” We bet you money you can’t say it without feeling like Maximus.
  • Fidus Achates : More than some internet acquaintance, a fidus Achates (“ FEED-us uh-KAH-tays “) is a true friend. It’s like “ BFF ” in Latin.
  • Fancy : It’s only a matter of time before you’ll be able to “ fancy ” a link or status update for which you wish to show appreciation.
  • Cachinnate : Forget about laughing your a** off. Tell them you’re cachinnating (CACK-in-ate-ing) heartily.
  • Woe is me : It sounds a bit like Yoda-ese, but instead of saying FML, go biblical with “ woe is me .”
  • Piquant : If you simply must inform the world how scrumptious the food you are currently eating is, please refrain from saying “ nom nom nom .” Use this descriptor instead to convey appetizing flavor.
  • Baffling : It’s too easy to just drop a “WTH” (or some variation) on some activity or news that perplexes you. Why not be baffled ?
  • Indubitably : The “ Really ?” ship has sailed. To express ironic dismay, go with, “ Indubitably ?” Trust us, it’s a can’t-miss.
  • Desultory : Don’t be a serial “ random “-dropper. If something is unexpected, call it “ desultory .”
  • Ergo : Starting a status update with “ so ” is nonsensical because “ so ” means “ therefore .” But if you’re going to use “ so ” correctly, “ ergo ” works just as well and makes you sound twice as classy.

Better Buzzwords

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

  • Donjon : Men, have you been relegated to a small segment of the house referred to as your “ man cave ?” You don’t have to take that. Call it your donjon , like the stronghold of a castle.
  • Garrison : “ Occupy ” has been done to death. Use this if you’re moving in and taking over.
  • Aspiration : Something that goes on your Bucket List (which hopefully you’re not still saying) is an aspiration .
  • Pater familias : Bad: “ baby daddy .” Better: “ father .” Best: “ pater familias .”
  • Minutiae-peddling : This phrase is our own creation. Since 40% of all tweets are pointless babble , instead of saying “ I’m tweeting ” you could say, “ I’m peddling minutiae. “

Underage Upgrades

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

  • Alas : “ Oh, snap ” is so out. All the cool kids are saying “ alas! ” after their putdowns.
  • Forsooth : All the kids (and some adults) simply adore saying, “ I know, right? ” Kick it old school Archaic with “ forsooth ,” meaning “ indeed .”
  • Jocular : People’s eyes glaze over when they read “ LOL .” Send them scrambling for a dictionary when you reply, “ How jocular! “
  • Gamin : It means “ street urchin ,” but we can change the meaning to be more neutral if we put our minds to it. After all, we did the same thing with “ dude .”
  • Paraphernalia : Remember the nice officer who referred to your “ drug paraphernalia? ” That was a fancier way of saying drug stuff .
  • Incogitable : To the kids, everything’s “ wack ” or “ crazy .” But the silver-tongued teenager of 2012 will be sharing his or her disbelief with this mouthful.

Professional Pick-me-ups

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

  • Demiurgic : “ Innovative ” is the second-most overused resume filler word. Since you’re already tooting your own horn, compare yourself to a Gnostic creative deity with this word.
  • Ambitious : “ Motivated ” is another résumé snooze-inducer. Go ahead and say you’re ambitious; it’ll add a little edge to it that will help you stand out from the pack.
  • Assiduous : Don’t bother telling employers you are “ dynamic ;” everyone they’ve interviewed has been dynamic. But if you want an original way to tell them you are hardworking, use this.
  • Henceforth : For some reason, “ going forward ” has caught on as a tack-on to the end of serious statements to make them sound more complete. We’re not sure how you can go any way but forward, but at least use “ henceforth ” instead.
  • “_________” : That’s a blank to represent an alternative to saying, “ It is what it is . ” “ It is what it is ” is the equivalent of saying nothing, thus it has no alternative. Just keep quiet for once instead.
  • Pandemic : Sure, a video can go viral by getting a few million clicks. But aim higher for your company; shoot for a billion clicks. People will be forced to admit your work has gone pandemic .
  • Withal : You’re not still using “ irregardless “, are you? Make the point of “nevertheless” with withal , a great word that people will think you misspelled.
  • Veritably : Love, Actually would have been so much more original if it had been called “ Love, Veritably .”
  • Impetus : When you execs talk about giving your employees an impetus , you might be discussing raises or donuts in the break room or some other motivational tool.

Romantic Retools

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

  • Cherish : Take a lesson from The Association and discover another way to say “ I love you. “
  • Paragon : Tell your girlfriend she is a paragon of beauty and you’ll score major brownie points once she’s looked it up.
  • Pulchritudinous : …Or you could call her “ pulchritudinous .” How fantastic is that word? Of course, you will have to quickly assure her it’s a compliment.
  • Recherché : Your wife’s dress isn’t just elegant, it’s exquisite, refined, exotic… recherché .
  • Despondent : Sad is what you are when you spill wine on your pants. When your baby leaves you high and dry in the cold, cruel world, you’re despondent .
  • Loathe : People say “ hate ” is a strong word, but it’s got nothing on “ loathe. “
  • Abjure : There’s no doubt saying you “ dumped ” someone is colorful, but if you want to say it in style and with authority, say you abjured that cheatin’ man.
  • Yearn : Do justice to your desire to possess that special someone. You don’t want to date them, you yearn for them.

Dignified Descriptors

sophisticated phrases for creative writing

  • Atrocious : You spilled your coffee, broke a shoelace, smeared the lipstick on your face. That’s not a bad day , it’s atrocious .
  • Spanking : The only socially-acceptable way to incorporate “ spanking ” into a polite conversation is to use it instead of the word “ good .”
  • Transcendent : If you say something is “ awesome ,” you’re saying it inspires fear or awe in you. So pizza cannot be awesome. What it can be is transcendent or excellent.
  • Gobs : Make your old English teacher happy and stop using “ lots .” “ Gobs ” is so much more fun to say anyway.
  • Opined : “ Said ” is perfectly functional and perfectly acceptable and perfectly boring. If someone is giving their opinion, say they “ opined .”
  • Parry : Really, there’s no reason to use “ said ” unless you write for a newspaper. Parry back and forth with your debate partner using your newfound word gems.
  • Asseverate : Last one: To asseverate is to declare earnestly or solemnly. So help you God.
  • Altitudinous : Get creative when referring to your tall friend from high school. “ That guy was downright altitudinous! “
  • Corpulent : If you’re going to call someone fat, at least find an unusual way to do it, like with this word.
  • Lummox : So many great insult words, so little time. Take a line from Stewie and call that moron a “ bovine lummox .”

13 wonderful old english words

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2 responses to “50 sophisticated words you should start using”.

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Zoe, I am an Indian. English is not my mother-tongue, but I am quite comfortable with the language. I love using correct, appropriate and beautiful words and expressions in my day-to-day life. I have to say that I have learnt quite a few words and usages here. This is great piece of work. Loved it! Keep it up.

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    21. Up to the minute. This phrase describes the most recent or newest knowledge about a specific subject or circumstance. Note for writers. Use this phrase to represent circumstances when the data ...

  6. Use Vocabulary in Creative Writing to Make Brilliant Stories

    Beautiful - A word that is often used without giving any specific details or personal viewpoints. Brilliant - The word "brilliant" is often used to say something is really good or smart, but it might sound overused. Cool - An informal word that many people use a lot, but it doesn't give a clear meaning anymore.

  7. 100+ Useful Words and Phrases to Write a Great Essay

    Sharing is caring! How to Write a Great Essay in English! This lesson provides 100+ useful words, transition words and expressions used in writing an essay. Let's take a look! The secret to a successful essay doesn't just lie in the clever things you talk about and the way you structure your points.

  8. How to Describe Happiness: 100 Phrases

    happiness overtook him. she took a defiant joy in it. happiness streaked through him like a comet. a quiet contentment spread through him. contentment filled her heart. happiness trembled inside of her. his heart dared to hope. happiness swelled within her. gratitude flowed through her.

  9. How to Use Good Phrases for Composition Writing

    3. "Spine-tinging" means "scary". (Again, wrong context.) Here's the revised sentence: "The onlookers were left mesmerised by the breathtaking sunset.". By replacing bombastic words with effective ones, you're well on your way to writing a good essay in English.

  10. 100 Word Prompts for Writing: Boost Your Creativity with ...

    Consider using words that evoke strong emotions. Words like "love," "hate," "fear," or "joy" can be powerful prompts that encourage you to explore your feelings in your writing. Use random word generators to spark your creativity. There are many online tools that can generate random words for you to use as prompts.

  11. How to Polish Your Writing to be Sophisticated and Professional

    They are not needed if your dialogue is strong. Avoid flowery, poetic figures of speech. Oftentimes, this pulls the reader out of the story. Use clear descriptions that apply to the scene. There is no need to try to impress anyone with your poetic ability unless you are writing poetry. Avoid a lot of profanity.

  12. 400 Descriptive Words List To Make Your Writing Shine

    These words describe features like shape, texture, color, and size. They help differentiate between items in a group by calling out distinguishing features. In English grammar, you can use the following to describe nouns and pronouns: Abandoned. Abrupt. Academic. Acute. Admirable. Adorable.

  13. 10 Beautiful Words You Can Use in Narrative / Descriptive Writing

    Redolent (adj.) Meaning: having a strong pleasant smell. Synonym: aromatic, perfumed. Sentence examples: Although my mother had left for work, the entire house was redolent with the fragrance of her perfume. The kitchen was redolent with the aroma of freshly baked bread, making my mouth water. 9. Serendipitous (adj.)

  14. 40 Big Words That Make an Impact In Speech and Writing

    Whether you're writing an essay or speaking in front of a group, there are certain big words you can use to impress your audience.

  15. 31 Stylistic Devices for Creative Writers

    Word or phrase omission. Example: I speak lots of languages, but you only speak two (languages). 13. Euphemism. Replacing offensive or combinations of words with lighter equivalents. Example: Visually challenged (blind); meet one's maker (die) Opposite: Dysphemism. Replacing a neutral word with a harsher word. 14.

  16. Transitional Words and Phrases

    Transitional words and phrases can create powerful links between ideas in your paper and can help your reader understand the logic of your paper. However, these words all have different meanings, nuances, and connotations. Before using a particular transitional word in your paper, be sure you understand its meaning and usage completely and be sure…

  17. Useful Sophisticated English Words & Phrases

    He's adamant that… - he insists that…. You can use this sophisticated English word when describing a 100% certainty of someone or yourself. "He's adamant that the goods were sent out to the customer.". Unsolicited advice - advice that hasn't been asked for.

  18. Bank of ambitious vocabulary for creative writing

    A range of worksheets and activities aimed at building ambitious vocabulary for different purposes. £4.00. See more. Report this resource to let us know if it violates our terms and conditions. Our customer service team will review your report and will be in touch. Not quite what you were looking for?

  19. 170 Cool, Unique & Beautiful English Words to Spark a Little Joy

    Below is a list of some of the most beautiful English phrases, sayings, and expressions. English. Meaning. A change of heart. To suddenly change your mind. Adventure is the champagne of life. Adventure is what makes life bubbly! Every cloud has a silver lining. Even a negative situation has something positive.

  20. How to describe settings

    Make your description vivid. Consider more senses than just vision. Choose a type of setting you like to work with and learn words attached to that setting so you can include more specific vocabulary. Match your description to the mood of your story. Link your description symbolically to a theme in your story.

  21. 15 Advanced English Phrases for Better Expressing Emotions

    Say What You Feel: 15 Advanced English Phrases for Expressing Emotions. Advanced English phrases allow you to express yourself more fully.. In this post, we'll explain how you can recognize the key elements of advanced English phrases that'll help you talk about emotions—and practically anything else—in a precise, engaging way.. Then, we'll show you 15 specific advanced English ...

  22. 50 Sophisticated Words You Should Start Using

    Garrison: " Occupy " has been done to death. Use this if you're moving in and taking over. Aspiration: Something that goes on your Bucket List (which hopefully you're not still saying) is an aspiration. Pater familias: Bad: " baby daddy .". Better: " father .". Best: " pater familias .".

  23. GCSE Creative Writing Vocabulary Flashcards

    4 words to describe the sky. inky; overcast; dim; colourless. 4 verbs for shouting. shriek; roar; yell; bellow. 7 verbs for talking quietly. whisper; buzz; mumble; murmur; mutter; sigh; breathe. Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like 5 words for bright, 2 words for walking slowly, 4 words for walking lightly and more.