Choosing Your Words Carefully

Today I want to look at language, and specifically the use of certain words. In this case—given the climate of hatred spewing out all over the place, I’m focusing in on the word, despise [verb] : to feel contempt or a deep repugnance for, as in : he despised himself for voting for Trump.

As writers, choosing the right word is important:

It’s one thing to dislike someone; it’s quite another to despise or detest the person. Both are strong words, used to describe extreme dislike or hatred.

Detest is probably the purest expression of hatred (: she detested the woman who had raised her, and longed to find her own mother), while despise suggests looking down with great contempt and regarding the person as mean, petty, weak, or worthless (she despised men whose only concern was their own safety).

Disdain carries even stronger connotations of superiority, often combined with self-righteousness (: to disdain anyone lacking a college education).

Scorn is a stronger word for disdain, and it implies an attitude of not only contempt but of haughty rejection or refusal (: to scorn the man she’d once loved).

To loathe something is to feel utter disgust toward it (: she grew to loathe peanut butter and jelly sandwiches) and to abhor it is to feel a profound, shuddering, repugnance (: she abhorred the very idea of asking for the money).

Contemn is a more literary word meaning to treat with disdain, scorn, or contempt.

Now you can accurately describe how much you detest, despise, hate, scorn, loathe, disdain and feel contempt for … whomever!

Previous A Writer's Primer
Next I'm Making a Crossing …


  1. August 12, 2019

    I wholeheartedly agree with you on this Alexandra! Words are the conveyor of magic. Use them wisely and your reader will feel everything!

    • August 12, 2019

      Ah, I knew you would agree. We both have a love and understanding of the power of words, Sophie!

  2. As a lover of the English language, I’m a firm believer that words matter. Since there are so many adequate words in the language from which to choose, I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of taking care to do so! It makes a difference.

    • August 12, 2019

      People bandy words around with abandon, Jonetta, without ever really understanding what it is they’re saying. It is one of my pet peeves. And you should here me when watching the news, yelling at reporters, “it’s blah, blah, you stupid person!”

      Oh my. 😉

      • I do that, too, Alexandra. It’s shameful how careless some in the media are with word pronunciation and context. I have at least one cringe worthy moment each day.

        • August 15, 2019

          Oh, I’m so happy to know it’s not just me then. 😀

Leave a reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *