Finding the Perfect Synonym

I’ve been writing a lot of birthday cards lately, and one thought that kept running through my head was “What’s another word for…?” You’d think it’d be super easy to just get down your thoughts and feelings about someone you’ve known for many years and have many memories with, and it is. That’s not the real problem. The real problem is making those thoughts and feelings sound nice. Sure I could just list the qualities that I love and I appreciate about that person, but how many times can I write the sentence “I love that you… I love your… I love doing this and that with you” before it starts to sound super repetitive? That’s how we wrote in elementary school when we first learned about sentence structure and how to write complete sentences; we’d begin every sentence with “I” + verb and it was fine. But as adults, we now also care about the way words sound and look, which can influence meaning.

So I looked to a thesaurus for synonyms for “I love”, “I hope”, “awesome”, “great”, etc. but a lot of the words it provided, though close in meaning, just didn’t seem good enough to me. It’s frustrating when you have the perfect idea in your head, but you can’t find the right words to express it, and when you finally do, you can’t overuse otherwise it’ll become overworked. Does anyone else have this problem?

I realized this struggle happens a lot when I write papers too. Most of my time spent on a paper is on editing and coming up with ways to make the words sound smart (let’s be honest, we all do it). I don’t see how “flowering things up” can be avoided when so much of our world depends on how things appear and sound, but I wish it wasn’t so time consuming.

3 thoughts to “Finding the Perfect Synonym”

  1. I can totally relate to this struggle for the right word. I feel like sometimes that is the hardest part about writing. Another thing I notice is that I can sit in front of a computer for about 15 minutes trying to figure out what word I am looking for and then when I finally yell out to the person next to me “what’s that word.. you know… like its kind of…. OH! I know it now, thank you!

    So if you’re ever stuck on a word, just embarrassingly try to describe it to someone

  2. This happens to me ALL the time. Except I’m super weird and usually just sit there and frustrate myself trying to think of a synonym without a thesaurus. I also gesture a lot when I talk, so when I’m trying to think of a synonym for a word I usually just do the gesture that I think goes with it until I figure something out.

  3. I am struggling with this a ton in my about me section of the portfolio. I’m describing pictures of friends, family, places, etc that are meaningful to me. It should be so easy yet I find myself staring at the picture forever at a loss for words. Everyone in the pictures is “amazing” and the places are all “beautiful” but this just isn’t cutting it.
    Even though I hate to do it, sometimes it’s best just to write out a basic idea of what you want to say even if the language sounds ugly and wrong. Then you can go back later and really hone in on the word choice and tone you want.

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