Clichés are worn-out expressions (sleep like a log, dead as a doornail, first and foremost, crystal clear). At one time they were clever metaphors, but overuse has left them lifeless, unable to conjure in the reader’s mind the original image. Avoid clichés like the plague....
This content has an associated quiz
Diction, or word choice, is important for any writing to be understood by its intended audience. In scientific writing, concrete and specific language is preferred over the abstract and general.
Euphemisms (from the Greek eu, meaning good, and pheme, meaning voice) are indirect terms used to express something unpleasant. Although such language is often necessary in social situations (“He passed away” or “The study animals were sacrificed”), directness is better in scientific writing (“The patient died” or “The study animals were killed”) (...
Homonyms are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are easily confused, and computer spell-check programs are unable to differentiate them. Common examples include affect/effect, accept/except, altar/alter, assistance/assistants, cite/site/sight, council/counsel, its/it’s, patience/patients, peace/piece, peak/peek/pique, pleural/plural, principal/principle, and your/you’re (...
Some language is best avoided in material written for a professional or academic audience.
Idioms are fixed expressions that cannot be understood literally (kick the bucket, on a roll, put up with, pay attention). In addition, some may have multiple meanings that can be understood only in context (...