Big words suck. Gargantuan expressions fail to fulfill your readership’s expectations. See how small words win the day?
Have you ever felt the need to use big words to sound more important or authoritative, or just to fill up space? Big words usually just make you sound pompous, at best. At worst, you make your text more challenging to read, and people do exactly what you might expect; they stop reading. Your writing should be as easy-flowing as possible. You should use the simplest words possible.
K.I.S.S. stands for “Keep it simple, stupid.” You want to K.I.S.S. your readers.
Let’s look at a few commonly overused words that should be replaced with simpler ones.
UTILIZE. Wow, just three syllables to replace one. Honestly, have you ever heard anyone utilize this word in real life, like in the bleachers or at the movies or at the coffee shop?
“Hang on, I’ll be right there as soon as I utilize the washroom.”
“Should we utilize pepper in the stir fry?”
“He was just being my friend because I had box seats at the arena. I feel so utilized.”
“Aaargh! All the best utilizer names on Twitter are already taken.”
Yes, there is a much simpler word to use: use. And “use” is a fine word, even if it doesn’t sound pretentious.
ACCOMPLISH. Do you often accomplish things? OK, maybe. But “achieve” still flows off the tongue easier. And “do” flows easier still. Most of the time, I don’t accomplish things. I just do them, and then they are done. And then I’m done with it (I don’t want to be accomplished with it, just done with it.).
PURCHASE. More pretentiousness, perhaps? I buy things, I don’t purchase them. How about you? Why the extra syllable? Because some advertisers think you will spend more money if you purchase than if you buy? Or because they don’t want you to feel pressured into buying things. Instead they pressure you into purchasing things. Makes perfect sense to me.
Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious!
If you say it loud enough, you’ll always sound precocious “
ACTUALLY. This is an amazing word, because most of the time it can be replaced with nothing at all – and not lose any of its meaning! For instance…
I actually have twenty dollars.
I have twenty dollars.
What does that actually mean?
What does that mean?
I’m actually quite amazing.
I’m quite amazing.
See? Four syllables replaced by none. Just like magic. Let’s see Harry Potter do better.
ACQUIRE. This is the word that inspired this article. I had read the following message that was posted on the Warrior Forum :
In one of my titles, I had a confusion of whether to use “get customers” or “acquire customers”.
The former is simple but the later looks more sophisticated.
Google Search Says:
“acquire customers” 283,000 results
“get customers” 1,500,000 results!
So now the choice is obvious. I don’t want to look sophisticated. I just want to CONNECT with the readers with the right titles.
“Acquire” is another laughable word that people just don’t use in normal conversation. Can you imagine…
“Mommy, please can I acquire another toy.”
“I hear ringing. Can you please acquire the phone?”
“I need to acquire some new glasses. My eyesight isn’t what it used to be.”
And everybody loves that classic song: I’ve Acquired Rhythm.
Whether you are writing a book, an article, a press release or a blog post, your goal should be to connect with your readers. K.I.S.S. your readers. Use their language. Unless you are writing a sales page for an expand-your-vocabulary course, you should almost always use the simplest word possible. Or to put it more bluntly, use the world with the least syllables.
Don’t utilize the littler word. Use the smaller word.
PS: If you find this challenging, let our professional writers KISS your readers for you.