Monday, 7 April 2014

Using My Dictionary of Appropriate Adjectives

I’ve been doing quite a bit of freelance writing lately and one of the most useful reference books I’ve been using is The Cassell Dictionary of Appropriate Adjectives.

This is an old book and was origianally intended to be used by Foreigners whose first language was not English.

But I find it to be an extremely useful book for writers.

For instance, I was searching for an adjective for prices because I didn’t want to keep using the word ‘competitive’.

So I searched the adjective dictionary and it gave me these options (this was not the whole list just the ones that may/may not have been useful):


  • affordable
  • reasonable
  • realistic
  • fair
  • manageable
  • unbeatable
  • cut-rate
  • rock bottom
  • unbelievable
  • record
  • right
  • unprecedented
  • lucrative
  • modest
  • below market


When I was writing fiction I needed a word for a pair of staring eyes. When I consulted the adjective dictionary I found that it had an extensive list for all types of eyes and I settled for ‘hawk-like’ which fitted what I needed exactly.

Even a simple word like ‘feather/feathers’ had some intersting adjectives such as


  • glossy
  • iridescent
  • small
  • hard
  • innumerable
  • soft
  • delicate
  • fluffy
  • weightless
  • light
  • bristle-like
  • speckled
  • spiky
  • capricious
  • auricular


(auricular means shaped like an ear or ear lobe - had to consult an ordinary dictionary for that one).

But this is just a small example of how useful this book can be.

I bought it years ago and even then it wasn’t easy to get a hold of a copy because it’s out of print.

But you can still pick up a used copy for around $20 to $40.

And in my opinion, it’s a worthwhile investment if you do a lot of writing.

You can find used copies on Amazon.com.

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