University Writing Center Blog

Posted on February 29th, 2016 in Language by Jennifer Mahoney

by Sarah Evans, Student Consultant, University Writing Center

With thousands of words available in the English language, there’s no reason not to spice up your papers with some snazzy words. What are your favorite words to use?

1. Allege: claim or assert that someone has done something illegal or wrong, typically without proof

The conspirators alleged that the government faked the landing on the moon.

2. Quintessential: representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class

The nineteenth-century costume was completed by a quintessential feathered hat.

3. Juxtapose: to place (different things) together in order to create an interesting effect or to show how they are the same or different

In the art exhibit, the bright red colors were juxtaposed with muted black and white photographs.

4. Inevitable: impossible to avoid or evade

Becoming reliant on coffee is simply inevitable for many college students.

5. Auspicious: showing or suggesting that future success is likely

After an auspicious interview, the candidate was offered the job.

6. Alacrity: promptness in response, cheerful readiness

To have a successful career in customer service, you need enthusiasm and alacrity.

7. Exorbitant: exceeding the customary or appropriate limits in intensity, quality, amount, or size

At seven dollars, the price of the latte was exorbitant.

8. Capricious: changing often and quickly, often changing suddenly in mood or behavior; not logical or reasonable

It’s often said that Indiana weather is incredibly capricious, going from 40 degrees to 80 degrees overnight.

9. Innocuous: not harmful or offensive

The reporter’s question about rumors of embezzlement was hardly innocuous, and the spokesperson did his best to evade the question.

10. Posit: assume as a fact; put forward as a basis of argument

The company posits that their advanced technology results in the best-tasting chocolate.

For more great words, check out Merriam-Webster and remember: “Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice.”