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Dimwit's Dictionary

by Robert Hartwell Fiske

Whereas a witticism is a clever remark or phrase -- indeed, the height of expression -- a "dimwitticism" is the converse; it is a commonplace remark or phrase. 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. The more we use them, the more we conform -- in thought and feeling -- to everyone else who uses them.
The Dimwit's Dictionary is a compilation of thousands of dimwitticisms (clichés, colloquialisms, idioms, and the like) that people speak and write excessively.

Many of the entries in this book are followed by synonyms that may be used in place of the worn-out word or phrase, and by sentence examples taken from a miscellany of publications; others are followed by commentary; and still others by both. But even the mere inclusion of an entry -- that is, one unaccompanied by synonyms or commentary -- damns it as a dimwitticism.

Along with the many individual entries -- as well as sections on egregious English, everyday English, and elegant English -- The Dimwit's Dictionary discusses the following categories of dimwitticisms:

  • foreign phrases
  • grammatical gimmicks
  • ineffectual phrases
  • inescapable pairs
  • infantile phrases
  • moribund metaphors
  • overworked words
  • plebeian sentiments
  • popular prescriptions
  • quack equations
  • suspect superlatives
  • torpid terms
  • withered words
  • wretched redundancies
Dimwit's Dictionary - worthy adversary to moronocisms and stalwart defender of the rights of non-soundbites or pretentious collection of linguistic pet-hates promising a heightened language ability to those who adhere to its teachings? A pinch of each, perhaps. As you read through the collections of 'infantile phrases' and 'torpid terms' you may well find yourself appreciating the sense of liberation that could derive from the cessation of their use - at the very least, you may find yourself finally putting a stop to your own use of those most tragic of phrases inherited from generations past.

About Robert Hartwell Fiske: author of The Dimwit's Dictionary or the Thesaurus of Worn-Out Words and Phrases, owns Vocabula Communications Company, a writing and editing service in Andover, Massachusetts. Founded in 1986, Vocabula offers business and technical writing, creative writing, copyediting, developmental editing, proofreading, literary criticism, and the like.

© 1998-2005

Ebook Cover
  • Version 1.0
  • Date: 11/13/1999
  • File Size: 1304kb
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By the same author:
Dictionary of Concise Writing