Having a Way With Words | EW.com

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Having a Way With Words

This reference book of purely descriptive terms is like a thesaurus, only better; and for extra inspiration, ''The Describer's Dictionary'' comes packed with real literary examples

Very warm
Definition Hot, torrid, burning, blazing, scorching, blistering, broiling, baking, searing, roasting, tropical, pitiless
Example ”Down river, from Andy’s Landing, a burned-off cedar snag held the sun spitted like an apple, hissing and dripping juices against a grill of Indian Summer clouds. All the hillside, all the drying Himalaya vine that lined the big river, and the sugar maple trees farther up, burned a dark brick and over-lit red.” —Ken Kesey, Sometimes A Great Notion

Reddish brown
Definition Mahogany, umber, chestnut, bay, cinnamon, henna, russet, copper, walnut, oxblood, roan, rosewood
Example ”Mother’s yellow station wagon slid like a Monopoly icon along the gray road that cut between the fields of Iowa corn, which was chlorophyll green and punctured in the distance by gargantuan silver silos and gleaming, unrusted tractors glazed cinnamon red.” —Mary Karr, Lit

Hair
Definition Tress, lock, strand, shock, hank, coil, tendril, curl, ringlet, swirl, tuft
Example ”Looking in the huge mirror, she considers her hair, a cloud of maddened bees. In lieu of an hour with hot irons and pins, she catches one honey-brown curl and thrusts it back into the hive.” —Emma Donoghue, Frog Music

Cumulus clouds
Definition Separate, distinctively shaped puffs or fleecy domed or towered piles of cloud
Example ”Sometimes, when they came down from the cirrus levels to catch a better wind, they would find themselves among the flocks of cumulus — huge towers of modelled vapour, looking as white as Monday’s washing and as solid as meringues.” —T.H. White, The Once and Future King