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Likewise, I’m Sure

My favorite holiday movie is White Christmas. Okay, I'll admit it’s hokey, but I love Bing Crosby and I love the Irving Berlin songs. And I can’t help laughing every time one of the minor characters, a show girl with an unmistakable Brooklyn accent, says “Likewise, I’m sure” when she’s introduced to someone.

We’ve already seen why Your Spell Checker is Not Your BFF, so now meet your thesaurus. Likewise, I’m sure.

A thesaurus is that handy little tool in your word processor that shows you synonyms for whatever word your cursor is in. It’s supposed to help you find substitutes for words you tend to overuse. Worthy goal indeed, but beware – your thesaurus suffers from evil twin syndrome!

Take my favorite holiday movie for example. Did I really want to say:

  • OMGmy favored holiday movie?
  • my pet holiday movie?
  • my preferred holiday movie?
  • my admired holiday movie?
  • my esteemed holiday movie?
  • my loved holiday movie?
  • my best-selling holiday movie?
  • my popular holiday movie?

Not a chance! Yet those are the eight synonyms my word processor thesaurus gives me for favorite. Thanks but no thanks.

I could give you numerous other examples, but try it yourself in your own word processor. You might luck out and find a few usable synonyms for various words, but you’re more likely to wind up ROFL (do people still use that acronym??) or, worse yet, upchucking!

Always remember that words have power. They’re the only means we have to convey our message to others, especially to the others who read what we’ve written. Those people are not standing in front of us talking with us. They can’t hear our inflections, see our facial expressions, or see our body language. All they’ve got are our words.

Write what you mean, not what some word processor thesaurus thinks you might mean. Oops, sorry, a thesaurus doesn’t think. That’s the whole point. Enough said!



Kitty Price

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