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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
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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5.0 out of 5 stars Should be cover-to-cover reading Dec 8 2002
The Dimwit's Dictionary by Robert Hartwell Fiske (Editor of the online journal about the English language: "Vocabula Review") is filled cover to cover with alternatives to over 5,000 tiresome cliche phrases. The entries are of two types. One type offers synonyms for cliche words and phrases, from "Achilles' heel" (foible, deficiency, etc.) to "you name it" (and so forth, and the like). The other type of entry identifies flawed and horribly overused verbal expressions, and categorizes them by type: "zillions" is an infantile phrase; "advice is cheap" is a quack equation; and "nipping at your heels" is a moribund metaphor. The value of this second type of entry is straightforward - if one is using any such phrase in their writing, then reaching for synonyms simply isn't enough; it's time to completely rework the expressed thought. Both types of entries are presented alongside one another in this alphabetized volume. Overall, The Dimwit's Dictionary is easy to use, and should be cover-to-cover reading (not simply used sporadically as a reference, but a page-by-page reading and explicit indoctrination in what phrases to avoid) for every neophyte writer who aspires to effective and memorable writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dimwit's Dictionary not just for Dimwits! Oct. 10 2002
This delightfully clever though extremely helpful book opens with a section called 'Dimwitticisms' - or in the case of Chapter One, 'Expressions That Dull Our Reason and Dim Our Insight' - that immediately entices further perusing until the reader may realize they are reading every page, and though, while most of books of this type are to be thumbed through, this particular reader had trouble putting it down.
Topics' ranging from 'Plebeian Sentiments' to 'Wretched Redundancies' places this reference well beyond usual. Learning the difference between a moribund metaphor and an inescapable pair has never held such enjoyment. Impressively organized and detailed to the nth degree (sorry, I believe that was a moribund no-no), this compilation of wisdom is indispensable to lovers and writers of the English language. There is no word to describe... oops that was a plebeian sentiment, so let me rephrase that. The Dimwit's Dictionary is a great reference book. English majors and aspiring writers take note; you must have this on your reference shelf! You won't regret it.
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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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