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“In the search for words, thesauruses are useful things, but they don’t talk about the words they list.  They are also dangerous.  They can lead you to choose a polysyllabic and fuzzy word when a simple and clear one is better.  The value of a thesaurus is not to make a writer seem to have a vast vocabulary of recondite words.  The value of a thesaurus is in the assistance it can give you in finding the best possible word for the mission that the word is supposed to fulfill.  Writing teachers and journalism courses have been known to compare them to crutches and to imply that no writer of any character or competence would use them.  At best, thesauruses are mere rest stops in the search for the mot juste.  Your destination is the dictionary.” – John McPhee, “Draft No. 4″

Published inJohn McPheeLit & Crit

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