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

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2003

    A brilliant book

    '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.' Not only are there nearly 400 pages of cliches (or 'dimwitticisms,' as the author cleverly calls them) and, as in a thesaurus, synonyms for them, the two introductory chapters (Chapter 1, 'Expressions That Dull Our Reason and Dim Our Insight,' and Chapter, 2 'Writing That Demands to Be Read Aloud, Speech That Calls to Be Captured in Print') argue compellingly for 'giving recognition to speech and writing that is beyond standard, or everyday, English -- to elegant English.' Elegant English, Fiske maintains, is the opposite of everyday, or dimwitted, English. 'Elegant English is exhilarating; it stirs our thoughts and feelings as ably as dimwitted English blurs them.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2003


    What a sad, dull world this would be if we all spoke and wrote like this. The few entries that actually include alternatives make the writer sound nothing short of pompous.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2002

    Great book for writers and English teachers

    I'm enjoying both books by Fiske. The Dictionary of Concise Writing has sharpened my awareness of unnecessary words. Although I've just received it, The Dimwit's Dictionary is just the book I have been looking for. I see two uses for the DD in my work. (1) I teach a communications course for adults in Beijing studying for an MBA degree. They have to write position papers in English and this book can help more than a thesaurus alone. Also, (2) many Chinese living in the U.S. are stumped by the idioms in our language. For example, when I taught first in China in January 2002, no one knew the meaning of "thinking on your feet." DD can help understand stale phrases and find fresh alternatives. Idioms can keep cultures from communicating. I shall include both books in all my writing bibliographies from now.

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