Category: Word of the week

Word of the week
Australian Writers' Centre Team

Word of the week: Avuncular

Avuncular (adjective) “When I first heard this word, my friend was describing an older gentleman that she worked with. It’s an adjective that means ‘like an uncle’ and when I met her colleague it made total sense. Because he was very kind towards her and looked out for her. Please

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Word of the week
Australian Writers' Centre Team

Word of the week: Stultify

Stultify (verb) “One meaning is to make a person appear stupid or foolish. But mainly it means to lose all enthusiasm due to a boring routine. So you might say that being in prison was stultifying if you had nothing to do. Or that the stultifying job meant you were

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Word of the week
Australian Writers' Centre Team

Word of the week: Peripatetic

Peripatetic (adjective) “This is a fancy word to mean ‘wandering’. It comes from the Greek word for ‘pacing to and fro’, but relates to someone who does that in a more organised way, rather than someone who bumbles about. So a peripatetic startup CEO might split his time between Sydney

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Word of the week
Australian Writers' Centre Team

Wacky Word Wednesday: Syzygy

There’s just one word in the English language with three ‘y’s. That word is syzygy – pronounced siz-uh-jee. It’s a word that astronomists would most likely be familiar with, and possibly even poets.

The Macquarie Dictionary lists one definition as “the conjunction or opposition of two heavenly bodies; a point in the orbit of a body, as the moon, at which it is in conjunction with or in opposition to the sun.” Other references suggest syzygy actually describes the alignment of three celestial bodies – something that happens when there’s a full or new moon.

The unique thing about the definition of syzygy is that it describes both opposition and conjunction with the sun. The original meaning of the word only applied to conjunctions – when the moon is between the Earth and the sun. It came from the Latin suzugia and the Greek suzugos, which meant “yoked or paired”.

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Word of the week
Australian Writers' Centre Team

Wacky Word Wednesday: Zeugma

Appropriately (for Writing Bar) this week’s wacky word describes a commonly used literary device. It’s one most readers would immediately recognise on seeing it used, but may never have realised just how common, and clever, it is. It’s zeugma, a rhetorical device where a single word is linked to two words in a sentence but is really only appropriate to one of them.

So, that makes a zeugma sound more like a grammatical error than a writing technique. But used well, the zeugma can add drama, humour and beauty to writing. The Macquarie Dictionary describes zeugma as “a figure of speech in which a verb is associated with two subjects or objects, or an adjective with two nouns, in a way that is unexpected”.

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