The Meanings of Words – Synecdoche

SynecdocheSynecdoche. What a wonderful word!

Someone mentioned the film, ‘Synecdoche, New York’ to me the other day. I’d never heard of it. I’d never heard the word synecdoche either so (as it was such a tantalising word) I decided to look it up – of course.

That’s what we writers and readers do because we want to extend our repertoire of words and understanding.

The best definition I found was on Wikipedia.

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Surprise yourself with simple language

Making yourself understood

Language is what we rely on to understand something we are being told. We expect to know what it means.

The only way we can do that is if the giver of the information delivers it clearly.

Your choice of words, the sequence you put them in and the structure of your sentences will set the feel and flavour of your writing as well as making it legible and intelligible.

Write in your own words

One of the tricks about writing is not to be grand. If you try for that memorable phrase or sentence, it won’t come and your writing will appear false and pretentious.

Write as you speak. Write in your own words. Forget the amazingly profound and just write. You will surprise yourself now and again. Sometimes it is the most simply put phrase that has the most effect.


That place we call imagination is a meditative process where we lose ourselves in the world we are creating. It is from that place that words and phrases arise. When you are writing ‘in the zone’ your mind will start making connections between concepts and thoughts almost subconsciously.

It is those subconscious processes that will widen your range of description and put the words on the page that please you. They can almost seem to come from nowhere.

Feed your creativity

Reading helps to feed your imagination and writing helps to exercise and express it. Without either you will not have the language or the words to make something beautiful and memorable.

What Would You Of Done?

What would you of done?

In England, particularly, the word have is often pronounced to sound like of, as in, “What would you of done?” or “I could of done something about it”. This is also how people will write it!

Actually, in that very English of ways, what people are really saying is, “I could ‘av done something about it”. They’ve dropped the h in have and it sounds like of.

It doesn’t take much investigating to reveal that of is the wrong word to be using given the context demonstrated above.

The dictionary definition of the word of is as follows:  Continue reading

They’re There Their

This is one you often see written incorrectly (usually it’s there and their that are confused). All three words sound just the same – a homophone.

However, each one has a very distinct meaning. When in doubt consult your dictionary or style book.

A good proofreader will pick up mistakes such as these but it’s best to get it right in the first place.

To put it simply: Continue reading

Finding Your Writing Voice

You’ll often hear the word ‘voice’ in relation to writing style. What does it mean?

For some it’s an ever-elusive writing style that escapes them, a way of writing that gives you a unique style. It’s probably elusive because they keep searching for it.

Don’t look too hard. When you are relaxed and telling a story in your own way, you are already using your writing voice. It’s something that comes naturally and sounds almost conversational – as if you are telling it aloud.

Of course you still have to pay attention to grammar, punctuation, style, and all the other writing rules. You need to investigate them and read about them. A good writer will never presume they know it all. You need to know enough about them to be able to break the rules and still be readable.

Keep writing and rewriting and you will find your own style – your own voice.



Well, I learnt a new word today: ‘toponym’.


The dictionary defines it thus: noun: a place name, especially one derived from a topographical featureIts origins are from the Greek topos place + -onym ‘name’.

Wikipedia defines toponymy as the study of place names (toponyms), their origins, meanings, use, and typology.

The word can refer to a non-specific feature, such as lover’s leap (or lovers’ leap or lovers leap – for the apostrophe-minded amongst you), hence it is anywhere that lovers may leap from. It also refers to a name that describes the place (I suppose lovers leap does that too if you know where it is); Northumberland is the ancient territory (land) of those living north of the River Humber.

Are you getting the drift of it now?

What other toponyms can you come up with?

Alarmed Doors

alarmed doorThe door in the photograph looked quite calm to me and not at all alarmed.

Is there another way of wording this statement? Probably. But it would probably be a wordier statement to get the same message across.

Do doors have emotions?

The long and short of it is that we know what this sign means. The door pictured here cannot experience emotion, hence it cannot feel alarmed. We, the readers, know this and so we apply the meaning that makes most sense without really thinking about it.

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Finger sandwiches and baby oil – the strangeness of the English language

sandwiches that look like fingersThe English language is a strange affair at times. Meaning is usually gathered from the words we use in the literal sense; the words and the order they are placed in a sentence tell you what the sentence as a whole means. But we don’t talk and write literally, neither do we hear or read, and consequently understand, literally.

I take it you are catching my drift so far? (I’m not really taking anything or expecting you to catch a drift, but I presume you know what I mean.)  Continue reading