Sound Words
Smell Words
Touch Words
Words for "See" and "Look"
Quiet Words
"Fear" Words
Onomatopoeia (Words that Sound Like Their Meaning)
The Sound of Words
Character Traits
Pesky Words


Sound Words:

scritch     crick       rap                  fissle        crinkle
scratch    creak     tap                   swish       crunch
scrunch    chirk       smack             whish       jangle
crunch     chirp        whack             zip            jingle
burr          chirrup    thwack            sniff          thud
chirr         rattle        whomp          snuffle       babble
buzz         clitter       whap               sputter     splat
clang        clatter     hiss                 whoosh    splash
twang       clack       siss                 wheeze    splosh
squeak     flutter      shush              squish      splatter
squawk     sputter   sizzle               crack       zing
screech     patter    fizz                   crash       zap

 [from: Creative Writing: A Handbook for Teaching Young People, p. 49] 

Smell Words:

pungent            acrid               stinky              fetid                 fulsome
spicy               peppery            aromatic         noxious           yeasty
tangy               rank                 perfume           malodorous     fusty
salty                gamy               sweet               rancid                frowzy
brine               brackish          savory             reeky                 stuffy
piquant            smoky             musky             foul                    moldy
sharp              stench             musty              vile                     mildewed
reek                flowery            putrid              miasmal 

[from: Creative Writing: A Handbook for Teaching Young People, p. 50] 

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Touch Words:

flossy              gooey             pocked          tingle               throb
silky                 plush               squishy          prickle             pound
fluffy                 crumbly          squushy         sting                chafe
knobbed         chalky              stringy         tickle               twitch
scaly               mealy              bouncy          shiver              rankle
gritty                shaggy            rubbery        creep              numb
slimy               gossamer        wiry              itch                  grate
sticky              nubby              brittle            smart              irritate
barbed            scratchy        crisp              ache                wince 

[from: Creative Writing: A Handbook for Teaching Young People, p. 50-51] 

Words for "See" and "Look":

watch              glimpse          gape               witness            observe
leer                  gaze                goggle            spy                  scout
glance             glare               ogle                 note                 reconnoiter
peek               glower             inspect            discern            scrutinize
peep               stare                view                peer                survey
gawk               squint              pore over       study              

 [from: Creative Writing: A Handbook for Teaching Young People, p. 52] 

Quiet Words:

hushed            peaceful
silent                tranquil
still                   noiseless
calm                speechless
placid              taciturn
soundless       mute

 [from: Creative Writing: A Handbook for Teaching Young People, p. 101] 

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"Fear" Words:

alarmed           daunted
anxious            scared
nervous            terrified
timid                 intimidated
cowardly          fainthearted
craven             chickenhearted 

[from: Creative Writing: A Handbook for Teaching Young People, p. 101] 

Onomatopoeia (Words that Sound Like Their Meaning):

bang               hum                 clipclop
boom              hiss                 howl
screech          fizz                   murmur
clang               buzz                whine
tinkle               sizzle               twitter
varoom           crack               chirp
pop                 slosh               cuckoo
ratatattat        crunch             whippoorwill

 [from: Creative Writing: A Handbook for Teaching Young People, p. 106] 

The Sound of Words: 

Hurry-up, Action Words:             Slow and Quiet Words: 

hop                  jump                            hush                lazily
fly                     leap                             lullaby              silently
quick               slap                             loiter                smoothly 

Sounds That Imply Mood: 

joke                 quiver              query               sleazy
jest                  quake             question          slimy
jolly                  quaver            quiz                 slippery
joy                   quail                                        slush
jovial                                                               sludge 

[from: Creative Writing: A Handbook for Teaching Young People, p. 109-110] 

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Character Traits:

ambitious         energetic       neat                stupid
awkward          excitable        patient            stubborn
bitter                 fanciful            poetic             sweet
brave                forgiving         proud              superstitious
boastful            gentle              practical         understanding
boring               hateful            quarrelsome   vain
careful              honest             romantic        wasteful
cheerful            imaginative    self-centered        
clever               intelligent        selfish             wise
creative            kind                 shy                 
clumsy              lonely              sincere         
cowardly           loving             smug              
dignified           lazy                 silly                 
dishonest         loyal                sloppy            
dull                    mean              stingy             

 [from: Creative Writing: A Handbook for Teaching Young People, p. 78] 

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Pesky Words:
Words that Cause Writers Headaches

 1.  Affect vs. effect:

Affect is a verb that means to influence, to change.

Effect is a nouns that usually means result.

Effect can also be used as a verb meaning to bring about, to accomplish.


His story affected my nerves, creating a chilling effect on my subconscious.

The high-pressure front effected a change in the weather.

2. Regardless vs. Irregardless:

Use regardless.  There is no such word as "irregardless."  It's a double negative.  The suffix less at the end of regardless already makes the word negative; no prefix is needed.

 3.  As to whether vs. whether and as yet vs. yet:

Whether is sufficient.

Yet is enough.


Whether the President will give a speech on the issue is not yet known.

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 4.      Done vs. finished:

Rule of thumb:  "The task or chore is finished, but the cooking (e.g., chicken, spaghetti) is done.

 5.      Farther vs. further:

Farther should be used when referring to physical distance or space (e.g., how far?)

Further should be used when referring to all else (e.g., time, quantity, greater in degree).


Alice skied farther down the hill than Bob, but Bob ran farther than Alice.

Jill is further along in the book than Joe.

 6.      Fewer vs. less:

Fewer should be used with things that can be counted (e.g., days, pieces).

Less should be used with things that can NOT be counted (e.g., time, sense).


Jill has less time to finish her book than Joe, but Joe has fewer pages to read.

Jill has fewer hours to finish her book than Joe, but Joe has less material to read.

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 7.      That vs. which:

That is a defining pronoun.  It tells the reader what you are talking about.  If you leave out the phrase that follows that, you lose the meaning of the sentence.

Which is a descriptive pronoun and is used with parenthetical phrases.  Such phrases enhance the meaning, but are not essential to understanding the sentence.


These are the time that try men's souls.

Tonight, Abby is going to watch the basketball game, which is the last of the season.

 8.      All right vs. alright:

There is no such word as "alright."  Use all right.

 9.      Comprise vs. compose:

Comprise means to contain.

Compose means to make up.  Never use "composed of."


A zoo comprises animals, but animals compose a zoo.

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 10.  Continuous vs. Continual:

Continuous means without interruption, like water cascading over falls (it ends with us, as in the uninterrupted sound of a waterfall).

Continual means often repeated or continually.

 11.  Imply vs. infer:

A speaker implies.

A listener infers.

 12. Nauseous vs. nauseated:

Nauseous means sickening.

Nauseated means feeling sick.


The nauseous fumes were coming from the blazing warehouse.

I get nauseated whenever I read in the backseat of a car.

 13. Hope vs. hopefully:

Hopefully is an adverb describing a state of mindówith hope.

 Correct: I hope I will sell this book.

Incorrect:  Hopefully, I will sell this book.

Correct:  Abby looks hopefully toward the future when she will sell her first book.

 14. Lay vs. lie:

Lay is a transitive verb.  Lay, laid, laid, laying.

Lie is an intransitive verb.  Lie, lay, lain, lying.


The hen lays an egg.

The dog lies down.

The man went home and lay down.

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Copyright © 2011 by Marisa Montes. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Nov 2011 13:07:02 -0500 .