Why Using The Thesaurus Can Hinder Your Engagement Rate

Ever looked up a synonym to make your writing more professional?

Time to drop that habit.

We were taught in high-school to write more sophisticated, but according to our studies, using long, overly-complex words can have a harmful impact on your engagement rate.

People like to see words they’re familiar with. That’s why they want short, simple words.

The shorter, simpler words often have the greatest impact.

‘A feeling of consternation’ is not as powerful as ‘a feeling of dread/terror/distress.’

‘A very strong person’ is not as powerful as ‘brute.’

Condense multiple words into one, and aim for shorter, simpler words. Obscure words that aren’t an everyday occurrence should be avoided.

When to Use a Thesaurus

The only way to get better at word choice is through practice.

But sometimes, it’s helpful to rely on a thesaurus. Like here:

‘I furiously ran out the house.’


‘I stormed out the house.’

Here’s when you should use a thesaurus:


In the above example we used the adverb ‘furiously’ in conjunction with the verb ‘ran.’

If you see yourself using an adverb + verb, 95% of the time, there’s a better, more condensed verb that can replace both words.

In this case it was ‘stormed.’

To find adverbs quickly, do CTRL + F and search for “ly ” (with the space at the end). Words like happily, angrily, beautifully.

Replace all adverb + verb combinations with a stronger verb.


The same rule applies to adjectives.

“Private thoughts” can be replaced by “secrets.”

“Wooden door” can be replaced by “door.”

Sometimes adjectives are used unnecessarily. If they are used to describe the obvious, they should be cut.

Pay extra attention to the word ‘very’ which could be used as both an adjective and adverb. Either delete it or find a better word.


Your writing will come to life if you become more specific with your words.

A book can be a novel, tome, dictionary or thesaurus.

A car can be a Toyota, Suzuki, Honda or Porsche.

See the difference:

I saw a car run over a dog today.

I saw a Porsche run over a Poodle today.

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