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The Dimwit's Dictionary: 5,000 Overused Words and Phrases and Alternatives to Them [Paperback]

Robert Hartwell Fiske , Joseph Epstein
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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The Dimwit's Dictionary: More Than 5,000 Overused Words and Phrases and Alternatives to Them The Dimwit's Dictionary: More Than 5,000 Overused Words and Phrases and Alternatives to Them
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Product Description

Book Description

This compilation of overused words and phrases is the ultimate tool for the writer who seeks to weed out common, tired language and replace it with concise writing.

About the Author

Robert Hartwell Fiske is also the author of The Dictionary of Concise Writing. He is the editor/publisher of the Vocabula Review, an online journal about the English language.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
Fiske has written a strange book indeed. Its primary purpose would appear to be the dissemination of an idea that with Fiske somehow dim-wittedness can be removed from your language. Alas, his identification of so-called grammatical gimmicks, ineffectual phrases, moribund metaphors, wretched redundancies, and the like is seldom shared by well-known language critics such as R.W. Burchfield, Bryan A. Garner, and William Safire.
That said, he does tend to identify weak and rummy phrases. However, instead of suggesting ways of strengthening such phrases to unassailable idiomatic expressions, Fiske suggests their deletion or single word replacements, which tend to be as queer and eccentric as they are gestures of ill-will and contempt for English idiom and its admirers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You're a dimwit if you don't get this dictionary Nov. 26 2003
'Manglish' ~ the act of mangling the English language ~ is sadly alive and thriving in the world. And many writers aren't helping just adding to the growing trend of misspellings, tautologies and clichés as well as hackneyed metaphors, inane expressions and bloated or weak writing.
Fortunately, help is at hand. Robert Hartwell Fiscke has produced two powerful, literary weapons for protectors of the language ~ The Dimwit's Dictionary: 5000 Overused Words and Phrases and Alternatives to Them and The Dictionary of Concise Writing: 10,000 Alternatives to Wordy Phrases.
The key to good writing, according to Fiske who is also the author and publisher of The Vocabula Review (an online journal about the English language), is concise and precise writing ~ and that's just what he offers with these two excellent reference books.
At first glance, you may be offended by the Dimwit's title ~ what person would buy a book which suggests he or she is a dimwit? Well, after leafing through it, you'll know why you bought it and maybe even refer to some of your past efforts as dimwit. I know I did.
The 400-page book is divided into two parts. The first examines a wide range of examples of lazy and weak writing, showing scribes how to improve useage through better word choices and creativity with the language.
Part two is the dictionary portion of the volume. It offers literally an A to Z guide of thousands of overused words and phrases, and provides fresh alternatives.
As Fiske explains from the outset: "Dimwitticisms are worn-out words and phrases; they are expressions that dull our reason and dim our insight, formulas that we rely on when we are too lazy to express what we think or even to discover how we feel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars an in-your-face handy reference! Jan. 28 2003
THE DIMWIT'S DICTIONARY is not exactly a kind book - it will shred every linguistic prop a writer is comfortable with & proud to know & use. Not that I'm proposing writers reinvent the way they write, I am, however, encouraging they use this dictionary to discover how hackneyed their writing might be. It is a litmus test to learn what separates the ho-hum from the memorable; the bland from the interesting.
Discover just how original, or not, is your writing. Learn about Ineffectual phrases, Moribund metaphors & Infantile phrases; Overworked words, Inescapable pairs & Torpid terms; Withered words, Wretched Redundancies & Egregious English; Quack equations, Foreign phrases, Grammatical gimmicks & much, much more!
THE DIMWIT'S DICTIONARY is an invaluable tool all writers need to have on their tool shelf, not to be taken too seriously or too much to heart, or brain, as is the case, as an author could get dreadfully pompous!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Makes good reading Jan. 16 2003
Somewhat self-righteous and pedantic at times, but highly pertinent on the whole. Actually makes very good reading. Mister Fiske seems to entertain a pet hate for foreign metaphors, French in particular, except when it suits him (portmanteau is coat-hanger in English).
Would definitely recommends it as a teaching reference at university level.
As a last word, Mister Fiske would do us a great favour by publishing all his works into one single book. References to other work(s) smacks of (concerted) mercantilism.
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