15 Ways You Can Use Word Play To Delight Your Readers

15 ways to delight readers using word play

15 Ways You Can Use Word Play To Delight Your Readers

By Leigh Holland.

What is “Word Play”? Word play is also called “a play on words”. A word play is a literary technique writers use to imbue words with greater or different meaning, so that the main subject becomes the word. Word play is designed to produce an intended effect in the reader. Although often employed for the purpose of amusement, this technique can be used to convey any meaning a writer wants to.

Here are some types of word play.

  1. Onomatopoeia– The word is the sound. This has the benefit of setting the mood right away, is a literal word play that can’t be misunderstood, and immediately imparts imagery into the mind of the reader. Use appropriately and sparingly. Example: Rumble-boom went the sound of the dynamite, whoosh went the wind from the blast as it blew past Erin.
  2. Mondegreen- Homophones or near-homophones; a string of such words is called an oronym (“I scream for ice cream”). This device most commonly occurs in songs and poems.These work off of confirmation bias- we hear what we expect from our everyday lives rather than what is there. Our minds are continually trying to make sense of information entering them and sort words based on prior experience. In music, this is called “misheard lyrics” or “soramimi”. A lyrical example is “…and laid him on the green” misheard as “…and Lady Mondegreen”, from which the device takes its name. Warning: sometimes your reader may not understand what the intended effect was. Example: “Come You Nigh Kay Shuns” by Lawrence A. Perkins has as its title and plot a new communications system encoded with mondegreens. In my novel “2042”, the elusive yet omnipresent figurehead of the corporate-religious dystopian regime is called “the Profit” instead of “the Prophet” in order to drive home the financial corruption of this ‘spiritual’ leader.
  3. Spoonerism- A deliberate switching of consonants, vowels, or morphemes in multi-word phrases, quite often to humorous effect. Example: belly jeans (as opposed to jelly beans), sew me to another sheet (show me to another seat).
  4. Palindrome- A word that reads the same backwards and forwards. Example: Never odd or even, tacocat, “Doc: note, I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.”, able was I ere I saw Elba, Hannah, civic, kayak, level, A Santa lived as a devil at Nasa.palindrome image
  5. Acrostic- A hidden message within a text, usually comprised of the first letter of a repeating sequence, such as the first letter of each word, the first letter of each paragraph on a page, etc. Example: Edgar Allen Poe’s “An Acrostic”:

Elizabeth it is in vain you say

Love not”—thou sayest it in so sweet a way:

In vain those words from thee or L.E.L.

Zantippe’s talents had enforced so well:

Ah! if that language from thy heart arise,

Breath it less gently forth—and veil thine eyes.

Endymion, recollect, when Luna tried

To cure his love—was cured of all beside—

His follie—pride—and passion—for he died.

6. Backronym- An acronym is a word derived from the letters of a longer string of words. For example, the word “radar” comes from RAdio Detection And Ranging, the letters were chosen to fit the words they represent. In a backronym, the words are chosen to represent the letters. The can be used seriously or humorously. Example: Arby’s 1980 ad campaign slogan “America’s Roast Beef, Yes Sir!”, “Mother Of All Bombs”, AA’s ‘slip’ as “Sobriety Losing Its Priority”, SPAM= “something posing as meat”.

7. Contronym- A word with multiple meanings, one of which is the reverse of another. Example: Sarah’s outfit is sick, Tim’s jacket is bad as hell, a man should leave his parents and cleave to his wife; he cleaved the enemy in two.contronym example

8. Neologisms- A word not yet fully accepted into the language but that was created recently and is in common use. A portmanteau, for instance, is a word created by blending two or more other words together, such as “snark” (snake and shark), and “brunch” (breakfast and lunch). Often, acronyms will enter language as neologisms. Once the word is accepted it is no longer a neologism. Example: grok, McJob, quark, cyberspace, Catch-22, Orwellian, Kafkaesque, scrooge, pollyanna, coke when referring to any soft drink, affluenza, animatronic, bionic.beheadedness.jpg

 

9. Oxymoron- A rhetorical device putting together contradictory terms to form a self-contradicting phrase in order to make a point. Example: keenly stupid, barely clothed, affordable caviar, terribly good, be cruel to be kind, proudly humble, delightful sorrow, scalding coldness.

10. Malapropism- When an incorrect word is used that is nonsensical in context, but sounds similar to the intended word. Example: It is beyond my apprehension, she plummeted to the top, going up and down like a metronome, we cannot let terrorists hold our allies hostile, he was a man of great statue, they have miscalculated me as a leader.

11. Aptronym- The use of a personal name for a character that describes their profession. Example: Anthony Weiner (politician with a sex scandal), Jules Angst (anxiety disorder psychologist), Sara Blizzard (BBC Meteorologist), Thomas Crapper (sanitary engineer), Francine Prose (American novelist), Rosalind Brewer (Starbucks Executive).

12. Paraprosdokian- A figure of speech in which the last part of a sentence or dialogue is so surprising the reader must return to think about the first part. Often used in comedy. Example: On his feet, he wore blisters; Take my wife-please; I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it; I haven’t slept for ten days, because that would be too much; I don’t belong to an organized political party, I’m a Democrat; on the other hand, you have different fingers.

13. Conversion- Creating a new meaning or alternate part of speech for a word by deriving it from itself. Examples: The golf green is called a green because it is the color green, Beer me, He was eyeing her, she googled the info, he was texting, Let’s not Rumsfeld Afghanistan, she downed a pint, Petruchio is Kated.

14. Paronomasia- A “pun”. This form of word play exploits multiple meanings of words, or of similar sounding words, for rhetorical effect, based on ambiguities. It treats homonyms as synonyms. Many forms of word play fall under this category as it can arise from metonymic, homophonic, or figurative language. Examples: When it rains it pours (Morton Salt), time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana (Groucho Marx), Kings worry about a receding heir line, I used to be a tap dancer until I fell in the sink.

15. Double Entendre- A phrase that has a double meaning, one often being demeaning or insulting. One meaning is obvious, the other meaning is often implied through innuendo. Example: “I’m having an old friend for dinner.”(Hannibal Lecter) “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.”(Mae West)

 

“Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns, he should be drawn and quoted.”

-Fred Allen

 

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Conquering the “Look”

Conquering the “Look”

By Leigh Holland.

Reviewing my chapter today, I searched the document for the word “look”. Gasping in horror, I realized I’d used the word “look”, or some conjugation of it, far too often. I was engaged in an epic mental struggle with the “Look”, a condition that’s tormented me for as long as I can recall. How can I conquer the “Look” once and for all?

Expressiveness of the Eyes

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They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. By that, they mean the eyes are so expressive that they give away the truth behind them. Here are some ways we can describe “looking” with the eyes.

Emotion

Expression of Eyes

Agitation Gaze bouncing from place to place, Avoided meeting her eyes
Amazement, Disbelief, Surprise Eyes widened, Rapidly blinked repeatedly, An open stare, Glancing at companions to see if they’re amazed, Lifting one brow, Incredulous stare
Anger, Contempt, Hatred Eyes protruded, a cold, hard glare, eyes narrowing
Anguish, Sadness Crying, wailing, weeping, reddened eyes, tears shimmering, tears welling up, Glistening eyes, Wincing
Annoyance, Irritation Raising eyebrows, giving a glassy stare, Narrowed eyes, eye-rolling, Focusing gaze elsewhere
Conflicted, Ambivalence Avoiding eye contact, increased blinking, Ping-ponging gaze
Confusion Narrowed eyes, eyebrows squishing together, Eyes cluding, Distant gaze, Staring at the ground, Blinking
Curiosity A sidelong glance, Raised eyebrows
Defeat, Depression Vacant eyes, Downward gaze, Staring at one’s own hands, Infrequently blinking, dark circles under eyes
Defensiveness Squinting eyes, a fixed gaze, Lowering brow, Eye-rolling
Desire Solid eye contact, Shining eyes, Glossed over eyes, softened gaze,
Desperation, Loneliness Wet eyes, Glossy eyes, Darting gaze, Feverish stare, Over-bright eyes, A longing gaze, Lack of eye contact
Dread, Fear Downward gaze, hair over face, Avoiding eye contact, Rapid blinking, Staring without seeing
Excitement, Happiness Sparkling, gleaming eyes, Making eye contact, Dancing eyes
Impatient Glancing repeatedly at watch, Narrowed eyes, Intense focus, Raised eyebrows, Massaging the temples with eyes closed
Love Strong eye contact, little blinking, Yearning gaze, Beaming eyes, Soft gaze
Nostalgia Unfocused gaze, Tear-filled eyes, Eyes bright with memories
Paranoia Scouting for exits upon entry, Unfocused darting gaze.
Regret, Remorse Eyebrows gathering inward, Staring at one’s feet, Tears
Resignation Quiet tears, Dull eyes, Staring off at nothing
Satisfaction, Peacefulness A raised eyebrow, A closed eye lidded look, Sparking eyes, A dazzling gaze

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Other Words Related To “Look”

ADMIRE ATTENTION AUDIT BORE BABYSIT BEHOLD BLINK BEAM CONSIDER CONTEMPLATE CASE COUNT CHECK CONTEMPLATION DELVE DO A SLOW BURN DEEM DISCOVER DISTINGUISH EVIL EYE EXAMINE EYE EYEBALL EXPLORE EXPRESSION FACE FERRET FLASH FRISK FORAGE GET A LOAD OF GAPE GLARE GLIMPSE GANDER GAZE GOGGLE GLOWER GRIMACE GLIMMER HEED INSPECT INTROSPECT INVESTIGATE JUDGE LEAF THROUGH LOOK-SEE LEER MOON MARK MOPE NOTICE NOTE ONCE-OVER OGLE OBSERVE PEEK PRY PROBE RUMMAGE RECONNAISSANCE RIFLE REGARD RECOGNIZE RESEMBLE SEARCH TAKE STOCK OF SCRUTINIZE SPECULATE SIMPER SEE SLANT SIFT SENSE SQUINT SPY STARE SIZE UP SWEEP SUPERVISE SURVEILLANCE SWIVEL WITNESS WATCH VIEW

Interested in other body language your characters can express? Check out The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression.

Happy Writing!

 

It’s Very…

60 Words to Substitute for “Very” In Your Writing

It’s very…. No, it’s….
ANNOYING EXASPERATING
ANGRY FURIOUS
BEAUTIFUL GORGEOUS
BRIGHT LUMINOUS
BUSY SWAMPED
CALM SERENE
CLEAN SPOTLESS
COLD FREEZING
COLORFUL VIBRANT
CONFUSED PERPLEXED
CROWDED BUSTLING
DEAR CHERISHED
DEPRESSED DESPONDENT
DETAILED METICULOUS
DIFFICULT ARDUOUS
EMPTY DESOLATE
EXCITING EXHILARATING
FANCY LAVISH
FRIENDLY AMIABLE
FRIGHTENED ALARMED
GLAD OVERJOYED
HOT SWELTERING
HAPPY ECSTATIC
HURT BATTERED
INTERESTING CAPTIVATING
LAZY INDOLENT
LONG EXTENSIVE
MESSY SLOVENLY
NOISY DEAFENING
NERVOUS APPREHENSIVE
OLD FASHIONED ARCHAIC
OFTEN FREQUENTLY
PALE ASHEN
PAINFUL EXCRUCIATING
POWERFUL COMPELLING
QUIET HUSHED
RICH WEALTHY
SHINY GLEAMING
SHARP KEEN
SERIOUS GRAVE
SCARED PETRIFIED
SAD SORROWFUL
SKINNY SKELETAL
SMALL PETITE
SMELLY PUNGENT
SMOOTH SLEEK
SORRY APOLOGETIC
SPECIAL EXCEPTIONAL
TALENTED GIFTED
TALL TOWERING
THIRSTY PARCHED
TIGHT CONSTRICTING
TINY MINISCULE
UGLY HIDEOUS
UPSET DISTRAUGHT
WEAK FRAIL
WIDE EXPANSIVE
WISE SAGE
WORRIED DISTRESSED

132 Beautiful Words in English

132 Beautiful Words in English

Abeyance A state of temporary disuse or suspension
Acquiesce To accept something reluctantly but without protest.
Ailurophile A cat-lover.
Anaphora The repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses.
Aquiver Trembling
Assemblage A gathering.
Azure A shade of blue.
Becoming Attractive.
Beleaguer To exhaust with attacks.
Brood To think alone.
Bucolic In a lovely rural setting.
Bungalow A small, cozy cottage.
Callipygian Pertaining to having beautiful buttocks.
Chatoyant Like a cat’s eye.
Chinoiserie Imitation of Chinese motifs in Western art, furniture and architecture in the 18th century.
Comely Attractive.
Conflate To blend together.
Cromulent Acceptable.
Cuspidor A large bowl serving as a receptacle for spit.
Cynosure A focal point of admiration.
Dalliance A brief love affair.
Defenestration Act of throwing a thing out the window.
Demesne Dominion, territory.
Demure Shy and reserved.
Denouement The resolution of a mystery.
Desuetude Disuse.
Desultory Slow, sluggish.
Diaphanous Filmy.
Dissemble Deceive.
Dulcet Sweet, sugary.
Dulcimer A modern folk instrument related to the guitar and plucked with the fingers.
Ebullience Bubbling enthusiasm.
Effervescent Bubbly.
Efflorescence Flowering, blooming.
Elision Dropping a sound or syllable in a word.
Elixir A good potion.
Eloquence Beauty and persuasion in speech.
Embrocation Rubbing on a lotion.
Emollient A softener.
Ensconce To settle securely or snugly.
Ephemeral Short-lived.
Epiphany A sudden revelation.
Epoch A particular period of time marked by distinctive features.
Erstwhile At one time, for a time.
Ethereal Gaseous, invisible but detectable.
Evanescent Vanishing quickly, lasting a very short time.
Evocative Suggestive.
Fetching Pretty.
Felicity Pleasantness.
Forbearance Withholding response to provocation.
Fugacious Fleeting.
Furtive Shifty, sneaky.
Gambol To skip or leap about joyfully.
Glamour Beauty.
Gossamer The finest piece of thread, a spider’s silk
Halcyon Happy, sunny, care-free.
Harbinger Messenger with news of the future.
Heirarch A person who rules or has authority in sacred matters.
Imbrication Overlapping and forming a regular pattern.
Imbroglio An altercation or complicated situation.
Imbue To infuse, instill.
Incipient Beginning, in an early stage.
Ineffable Unutterable, inexpressible.
Ingénue A naïve young woman.
Inglenook A cozy nook by the hearth.
Insouciance Blithe nonchalance.
Inure To become jaded.
Iridescent Displaying a play of lustrous colors like those of the rainbow.
Juxtaposition The state of being close together or side by side.
Labyrinthine Twisting and turning.
Lagniappe A special kind of gift.
Lagoon A small gulf or inlet.
Languor Listlessness, inactivity.
Lassitude Weariness, listlessness.
Lilt To move musically or lively.
Lissome Slender and graceful.
Lithe Slender and flexible.
Love Deep affection.
Luminescence The emission of light not caused b incandescence and occurring at a temperature below that of incandescent bodies.
Mellifluous Sweet sounding.
Moiety One of two equal parts.
Mondegreen A slip of the ear.
Murmurous Murmuring.
Nefarious Villainous, iniquitous.
Nemesis An unconquerable archenemy.
Offing The sea between the horizon and the offshore.
Onomatopoeia A word that sounds like its meaning.
Opulent Lush, luxuriant.
Palimpsest A manuscript written over earlier ones.
Panacea A solution for all problems
Panoply A complete set.
Pastiche An art work combining materials from various sources.
Penumbra A half-shadow.
Petrichor The smell of earth after rain.
Plethora A large quantity.
Precocious Advanced or mature in development.
Propinquity An inclination.
Pyrrhic Successful with heavy losses.
Quintessential Most essential.
Quixotic Foolishly impractical, especially in pursuit of ideals.
Ratatouille A spicy French stew.
Ravel To knit or unknit.
Redolent Fragrant.
Riparian By the bank of a stream.
Ripple A very small wave.
Scintilla A spark or very small thing.
Sempiternal Eternal.
Seraglio Rich, luxurious oriental palace or harem.
Serendipity Finding something nice while looking for something else.
Sonder To test the depth of something.
Sonorous Capable of giving out a deep, resonant sound, as a thing or place.
Somnambulist Sleepwalker.
Sovereign Superior, ruler, master.
Summery Light, delicate or warm and sunny.
Sumptuous Lush, luxurious.
Superfluous Beyond what is needed.
Surreptitious Secretive, sneaky.
Susquehanna A river in Pennsylvania.
Susurrus Whispering, hissing.
Sycamore An American plane tree.
Synecdoche A figure of speech in which a part is made to represent the whole, or vice versa.
Talisman A good luck charm.
Tintinnabulation Tinkling.
Turpitude Depravity, wickedness.
Umbrella Protection from sun or rain.
Untoward Unseemly, inappropriate.
Vellichor The strange wistfulness of used book stores.
Verisimilitude Appearance of being true or real.
Vestigial In trace amounts.
Wafture The act of wafting.
Wherewithal The means.
Woebegone Sorrowful, downcast.

30 Fabulous Words to Describe Someone’s Voice

30 Fabulous Words to Describe Someone’s Voice

Breathy With loud breathing noises
Brittle About to cry
Dead Showing no emotion
Appealing Speaker wants help, agreement, or approval
Gravelly Low and rough
Gruff Low and rough and a bit savage
Fruity Deep and strong in a pleasant way
Croaky Low voice that sounds like the speaker had a sore throat
Disembodied Speaker is not visible
Honeyed Sounds nice, don’t trust them
Hoarse Speaker sounds like he’s losing his voice
Guttural Deep and in the back of the throat
Husky Deep, hoarse, yet attractive
Monotonous Boring and unpleasant
Nasal Sounds like they’re speaking through the nose
Penetrating High or Loud- makes listener uncomfortable
Raucous Loud and rough
Silvery Clear, light, and pleasant
Rough Unpleasant and not soft
Shrill Loud, high, unpleasant
Grating Unpleasant and annoying
Smoky Sexy and mysterious
Taut Nervous or angry
Singsong Like musical notes
Plummy High Class British speaker, word shows dislike
Throaty Low, deep in the throat
Tight Nervous and annoyed
Tremulous Shaky, nervous
Wobbly Up and down, possibly scared or going to cry
Wheezy Speaks but sounds like hard to breathe

Words Ending in “LY” That Aren’t Adverbs

Words Ending in “LY” That Aren’t Adverbs

Nouns:

Ally Alley Anomaly Assembly Belly Bully Doily Dolly Family Gully Holly Jelly Lily Monopoly Panoply Rally Sally Underbelly

The Flies:

Butterfly Dragonfly Firefly Gadfly Mayfly Horsefly Blowfly Barfly

Verbs:

Apply Bully Comply Dally Imply Multiply Ply Rally Rely Reply Supply Tally

Adjectives

Annually Silly Bubbly Burly Chilly Comely Costly Courtly Cuddly Curtly Daily Dastardly Deadly Disorderly Early Friendly Frilly Ghastly Goodly Gravelly Grisly Heavenly Hilly Holy Homely Hourly Jolly Kindly Likely Lively Lovely Lonely Lowly Mannerly Measly Melancholy Oily Only Orderly Pearly Pebbly Leisurely Scaly Shapely Sickly Sly Smelly Spritely Squiggly Stately Surly Timely Ugly Weekly Wily Whirly Wobbly Wooly Worldly Wrinkly Yearly

100 Words Similar to Said

*Roughly* 100 Words Similar to Said

Acknowledged, added, admitted, admonished, affected, agreed, allowed, amplified, announced, answered, apologized, articulated, asked, assured, avowed, backpedaled, barked, began, begged, bellowed, blathered, bleated, boasted, burst out, cackled, cajoled, calculated, called out, chanted, chastised, chattered, cheered, chimed in, chirped, choked out, chuckled, clarified, coaxed, commanded, commented, complained, complemented, concluded, concurred, confided, confirmed, contemplated, contended, continued, conversed, conveyed, corrected, cooed, cursed, claimed, declared, denied, demanded, dictated, digressed, disagreed, disclosed, echoed, elucidated, embellished, emphasized, emoted, ended, enlightened, enunciated, eluded, exclaimed, explained, exaggerated, expounded, expressed, exuded, exulted, fabricated, fibbed, finished, fired back, flattered, flirted, flung, foreshadowed, forewarned, formulated, fumed, gasped, giggled, gloated, goaded, grated, growled, grunted, guessed, gushed, harangued, hissed, howled, hollered, huffed, hurled back, insisted, insulted, importuned, implied, informed, injected, inquired, interrupted, intoned, interrogated, interpreted, interrupted, joked, jumped in, justified, kidded, laughed, lectured, lied, mentioned, mocked, mumbled, murmured, muttered, nagged, narrated, nted, noticed, objected, offered, opined, ordered, opined, outlined, paraphrased, placated, pointed out, pondered, pontificated, pouted, praised, predicted, preened, presented, proclaimed, proffered, presented, projected, promised, pronounced, proposed, provided, purred, pursued, put forth, queried, questioned, quipped, quoted, raged, rambled, rationalized, raved, read, recalled, recounted, reiterated, repeated, related, remarked, replied, reported, restated, responded, retorted, reviewed, rhymed, ribbed, riddled, riposted, rolled onward, rumbled, sang, scolded, screamed, screeched, shared, sighed, shouted, simpered, simplified, snapped, sneered, sniffled, sniped, snitched, snorted, sobbed, scolded, soothed, snapped, spewed, spoke, sputtered, squacked, squeaked, stammered,started, stated, stressed, stuttered, submitted, suggested, supplied, swore, taunted, teased, temporized, threatened, thought, thundered, toasted, told, translated, trumpeted, twittered, uttered, vented, verbalized, verified, vocalized, volunteered, vowed, warbled, warned, wept, wheedled, wheezed, whimpered, whined, whispered, wondered, yapped, yawned, yelled, yelped, zinged.

60 Words We Frequently Confuse

60 words

stationary

stationery

Fixed in a spot

Materials, such as paper

affect

effect

To act upon or make a difference to

The result of an action

whether

weather

Expressing a choice between alternatives

The state of the atmosphere at a place and time

everyday

every day

Encountered routinely

The set time at which something occurs or is encountered

minor

miner

Inferior in importance or degree

One who digs in the ground

pedal

peddle

A foot lever by which a mechanism is activated

To travel with wares for sale

navel

naval

Bellybutton

Pertaining to ships or shipping

accept

except

To willingly receive

To omit or exclude

farther

further

Used to describe a measurable distance

Used to describe a broad generalized comparison

figuratively

literally

Metaphorically

This actually happened

few

less

Describes countable nouns

Describes uncounted nouns

may

might

Expresses permission

Implies possibility over permission

capitol

capital

A specific building where government officials meet

Wealth; or the most important city in a region

lightning

lightening

Flashes of electricity during a storm

To light up

complement

compliment

A thing that completes another thing

To communicate admiration

illusion

allusion

A mistaken belief

A reference

flaunt

flout

To show off

To communicate a dislike for someone or something

emigrate

immigrate

Leaving a place

Coming to a place

flare

flair

A sudden blaze of fire

Style, skill, talent

inflammable

flammable

Easily caught on fire

Easily caught on fire

ordinance

ordnance

A rule or law

Military artillery

spade

spayed

A tool for digging

Remove the ovaries of an animal

wither

whither

To fade away; shrivel

To what place? Where?

insight

incite

Capacity for gaining understanding

To stir up or encourage

allude

elude

To refer to casually or indirectly

To avoid or escape through cleverness

historic

historical

Famous or important in history

Having the character of history

counsel

council

Advice

Assembly

eminent

imminent

High in rank or importance

Likely to occur at any moment

click

clique

A sharp and short sound

A small group of people with shared interests

prostrate

prostate

To lie face down on the ground in submission or humility

Of or pertaining to the prostate gland