Who’s got a great word? I do!

Every now and then I come across a word which stops me in my tracks because it is simply fabulous. Today that happened. The word is:

Honeyfuggle

It’s not from Harry Potter and it’s not a Muppet. In fact it’s a 19th century US word.

President Roosevelt was considered a “prize honey-fugler” by the Syracuse Herald in 1934 . So what does it mean?

Well, according to the Dictionary of American Regional English it means “to hoodwink or entice by flattery”.

I think this could be appropriately applied to many people in the 21st century, so it’s a shame it’s fallen out of fashion. Perhaps, together, we people of the internet might bring it back. I think you’re all good enough to do it. You’re attractive and you’ll get a lot out of it. You’ll feel like a million bucks, so who’s with me? Anyone?

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Recurrence vs. Reoccurrence

A mate recently asked me about the difference between ‘recurrence’ and ‘reoccurrence’. He firmly believed that ‘reoccurrence’ was ugly (I tend to agree) and that recurrence should be used instead.

Although my initial thought was that he was right. I was ready to get on my soapbox and demand that ugly words like ‘reoccurrence’ (and to a lesser extent ‘bewigged’) be defenestrated. However, I dug a little deeper and found a subtle difference.

Both appear in the Oxford English with essentially the same definition. The only difference being that recur mentions the word ‘periodic’.

Recur – verb (recurs, recurring, recurred)
occur again periodically or repeatedly:

“when the symptoms recurred, the doctor diagnosed something different.”

Reoccur – verb (reoccurs, reoccurring, reoccurred)
occur again or repeatedly:

“ulcers tend to reoccur after treatment has stopped.”

The difference is subtle, but with the definition of ‘recur’ (the inclusion of periodically) you can infer that a recurrence happens more than once, whereas a ‘reoccurrence’ might only be a once off repeat.

Although it seems to me that they can be used pretty much interchangeably (noting the subtle difference) there is a perception that reoccur is incorrect and ugly, and so might be avoided in formal documentation.

That’s how I see it anyway.

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There are more than a thousand words to write

I recently met with a photographer to discuss her new website and burgeoning photography business Julie Turner Photographer. I’m an enthusiastic amateur photographer myself and always enjoy meeting photographers and discussing their craft. But, it got me thinking about that old expression: a picture is worth a thousand words…

It is very true, a picture is a very powerful thing. We live in an ever increasingly visual world – people are reading less, watching more screen entertainment etc. and I started to wonder where that left me as a writer of words.

Young girl smelling a flower.

Beautiful photo, but what is she thinking?

Although powerful, pictures are limited. There are more than a thousand words to write. The Mona Lisa is a beautiful painting – one that evokes so much emotion and intrigue, but the picture only tells part of the story. Some 500 years later, people still wonder why Lisa is smirking.

Words can explain that which cannot be seen. Pictures are purely visual, whereas words can describe all of the senses. We can infer meaning from the visual but words can explain the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’. A beautiful photo of a child smelling a flower in a field may evoke emotion and even tell a story, but why is the child in the field? What emotions or memories does that situation evoke in the child? What does the flower smell like?

For the record, this blog smells like beetroot.

My recent blog post on the writing tip ‘Show Don’t Tell’ touches on this idea. Don’t limit your writing to describing that which can be seen only. Use the power of words to evoke all of your reader’s senses, and your writing will be better for it.

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