I have a word I love and I made it up. It is one of my favorite words and I use it almost every single night I teach. The word sums up what I don’t want them to do and why I hate when they do it.
The word is thesaurusize.
It means to use a thesaurus excessively and without knowledge of what you’re doing.
My students are obsessed with the thesaurus. I encourage my students to use the computer and all its resources in every way possible except for the thesaurus. Why? Because they replace words and don’t know the meaning of the replacement word so they end up replacing their original with a word that doesn’t make sense. And instead of taking the time to look up the meaning they just assume it is correct and go with it.
I remember being taught how to use a dictionary and thesaurus and the lesson with the thesaurus is that it may provide other words to use but the words don’t always have the same meaning so proceed with caution. Are people not taught this anymore? Or do they just not pay attention/ remember?
The other reason I hate the thesaurus is because it takes away their voice. They start using words that don’t sound like them and completely change the tone of their papers. I can’t stand that. I want my students to sound like themselves and not what they think I want them to sound like. I feel the best writing comes from writing about what you know, what you’re comfortable with, and sticking to your voice. Once they start thesaurusizing they lose that voice.
Stop with the thesaurusizing!