Another Word for "Thesaurus"

Turner Watson

By now, you’re probably sick of phrases like “these unprecedented times” or “the new normal.” After all, we’ve been hearing them in news reports, advertisements, and popular culture for almost a year straight. And yet, let’s be honest: those catchphrases are not only completely accurate descriptions of, well…these unprecedented times, they also have the benefit of sounding less scary, less stressful, than a perhaps more scientific description of the current state of the world.

And yet, like any good catchphrase, they’ve become stale. Over-used. Worse than becoming clichés, these turns of phrase are now downright trite. It’s human nature. We hear something over and over long enough, and it becomes simple background noise. And this isn’t just a modern occurrence. How many times have you heard some business or service make the claim “our people make the difference?” We’ve all had at least a quarter century of it, to the point that we no longer even ask ourselves what the heck it even means. At one point, it was probably very clever. An advertiser somewhere, weighing the strengths of a particular client’s enterprise, determined that compared to other similar products/services, the client’s was truly superior with regards to customer service and attention to detail. But just like the word “awesome”, which literally means “to fill with awe”, a condition that should never be taken lightly. (When was the last time you were truly filled with awe? Watching the water spill over Niagara Falls? Seeing the sunrise over your favorite beach? The view from scaling a mountain?) the words themselves have become devalued currency. Call it word inflation, or maybe escalation is a better word. We went from “They’re GREAT!” to “Awesome” to “Extreme” in a matter of decades.

A thesaurus is essential to good copywriting, and yet finding a different/better word isn’t enough. We react to different synonyms in very different ways. Another word for “unprecedented” is “remarkable.” Yet, somehow, we’d rather be remarkable than, say, “abnormal” but they mean the same thing. Extraordinary, unparalleled, fantastic, unique: all good. Eccentric, bizarre, aberrant: no, thanks. I’m good. Again, a thesaurus is a remarkable tool, but a truly great message also requires one very important feature. It requires context. And compelling copy takes all that and holds it up for comparison against the whims and tastes of modern society. For example, it’s very rare to hear about the “newfangled gadgets” produced by Apple, and yet you may very well see an ad for the latest “novel resources” or “modern gear.”

When it’s time for you to freshen up your advertising language, make sure you seek out a good copywriter. Review some of their previous work. See if it adapts to the current social landscape. Is it too tied in to pop culture? Chances are it will work now, but won’t seem relevant later. Is it too neutral? Odds are it won’t have enough punch to grab attention (and, thereby, solicit reactions from potential customers.) Excellent messaging is more than a dictionary and thesaurus. It’s the imagination to use the same words to tell a unique, compelling story.