The Power of the Right Word

The Power of the Right Word

When writing a joke, the right word can add more punch. Mark Twain said that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Descriptive words. Look for colorful words. Don’t use limp modifiers.  The word VERY is such a modifier. I visited the home where I was raised. Compared to the home in my memory, the actual home was very big. Or maybe instead it was huge. Or maybe, compared to the family home in my imagination, it was palatial. Very is a very limp modifier.  Very big is a yawn generator. Huge is a step in the right direction, but it is a generic size description. Palatial is descriptive and related to home size. We’re getting warm.

Made-up words.
A beater. This is a common word for a beat up old car.
A bomb. This was a term for our family 1953 Pontiac as it slowly turned
from a stylish new car into an embarrassing beater.

Funny words. Referring to marijuana as a drug is a rather bland
description. Cannabis has a K sound and may be a bit funnier. Weed is
funnier. Mary Jane, a little more color. Pot has more POP to it.
Another word, calliope is funnier than organ. And the word captures some of the whimsical qualities of the instrument.
Lake Superior is not as funny as Lake Erie; which is not as funny as
Lake Wobegon; which is not as funny as Lake Titicaca. Some words
just sound funny.

K sounds.
Bing hit in the face with a cream cake is funnier than with an apple pie.
Kinky, is a funny sounding word with a double K.
Macaroon. A K sound buried in the middle gives is a humorous ring.
Cotton Candy, corn dog, funnel cake, are great words for a circus midway, with the K sounds adding some snap. Cotton Candy plays with alliteration.
Kiwi if funnier than orange.
Kinde is funnier than Smith.

Hard sounds are similar to K sounding words.
Jitterbug is funnier than Waltz.
Toyota is funnier than Ford.

Words funny for associations.
Ballet is not funny for the way it sounds, but for tights and tutus we
associate with it.

Crack sounds like the sound it describes, and a bonus, it has a strong K sound.
Whack. You could hit someone on the head but it’s funnier to whack them on the noggin.

So give some thought to the words you use. The right word can kick up the humor value in your jokes and stories.