What kind of writer are you?
Writing styles are as distinct as personality traits—and debates about which way of writing is “best” can often be just as volatile. Where one writer might luxuriate in the complexities and varieties of the lexicon, another might prefer to tell it like it is in the most familiar way possible. Such was the case, in fact, with celebrated novelist William Faulkner, who famously griped that his contemporary, Ernest Hemingway, “had never been known to use a word that might send his reader to the dictionary.” Hemingway retorted, “Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.” It’s neither productive nor accurate to argue over whether or not there can even be a “best” style of writing, but it is certainly entertaining to figure out which one we most prefer.
To celebrate the publication of the Oxford American Writers Thesaurus, Third Edition, we invite you to explore the world of word choice. Do you fashion yourself a champion of Plain English or do you like readers to have to jump through hoops of meaning to understand your prose? Find out what kind of writer you are, or aspire to be, by taking our interactive synonym quiz below:
The opinions and other information contained in OxfordWords blog posts and comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Oxford University Press.