Menu Bar

Sweeten Your Prose Using These Tasty Power Verbs

A spoonful of sugar with some strawberries

Ever read a book where you loved the plot, the characters were engaging, but for some reason the writing put you to sleep?

It’s likely the fault of some pesky verbs. Think about when you tell someone a story in person and you really want to impress them — you might not exaggerate (well, not too much anyway), but you use the punchiest words possible to get your message across in as engaging a way as you can.

The same goes for writing — and boring, moldy old verbs can rob your prose of the excitement and impact it deserves to have.

With that in mind, here’s a handy list of 30 alternative verbs that’ll add a more palatable flavor to your writing and keep your readers hungry for more.

1. Instead of Put Down, use Drop
2. Instead of Throw, use Fling
3. Instead of Shout, use Bellow
4. Instead of Run, use Tear
5. Instead of Laugh, use Guffaw
6. Instead of Cry, use Weep
7. Instead of Pull, use Heave
8. Instead of Push, use Shove
9. Instead of Make, use Create
10. Instead of Lead, use Command
11. Instead of Love, use Adore
12. Instead of Ask, use Beg
13. Instead of Let, use Permit
14. Instead of Rot, use Putrefy
15. Instead of Cause, use Incite
16. Instead of Damage, use Ruin
17. Instead of Climb, use Scale
18. Instead of Win, use Triumph
19. Instead of Lose, use Fail
20. Instead of Sing, use Croon
21. Instead of Drink, use Chug
22. Instead of Wash, use Cleanse
23. Instead of Tie, use Bind
24. Instead of Roll, use Tumble
25. Instead of Gossip, use Tattle
26. Instead of Meet, use Convene
27. Instead of Satisfy, use Delight
28. Instead of Read, use Scan
29. Instead of Smash, use Obliterate
30. Instead of Hit, use Clobber

There are so many powerful verb choices available to you — ones that reach above the norm and bring life and variety to your writing — we could go on listing them for a lifetime.

If you find yourself playing it safe and under-describing your characters’ actions — the result of which is often telling, not showing — try injecting a few alternative verbs to your description and watch it come to life.

What are your favorite alternatives to standard verbs? Are there any you catch yourself using a little too often? Sound off in the comments below!


Join the Discussion on “Sweeten Your Prose Using These Tasty Power Verbs”

  1. This is a nice beginning, but, as you know, there are many alternatives for all the verbs you’ve listed here; lists over twenty for just the first definition for “shout” (loud outcry).

    I write a lot of poetry, and I’d *far sooner* give up all access to a rhyming dictionary than do without a thesaurus. And these days, a thesaurus is just a click of the mouse away.

    1. AutoCrit says:

      Spot on, Margaret!

      Artha, The Open Thesaurus, is a handy bit of (free) software for when you’re stuck offline with no thesaurus at hand (provided you’re a PC or Linux user).

  2. Love this, including Margaret’s comment. I’m sad that the thesaurus has been so abused by artless hacks that we forget that this is it’s real value.

    1. AutoCrit says:

      Agree, Joel. Thanks. Don’t forget AutoCrit now has a Thesaurus feature built in:

  3. Barry Clevenger says:

    Great article. I purchased a bit of software called Master Writer a few years back. It has a great thesaurus feature, plus dictionary. Along with AutoCrit, they make a great team!

  4. Monica says:

    I appreciate your generous sharing of info. It alerts me to possible traps. Thanks.

  5. Tom Pawels says:

    TThere are no synonyms.
    I I use the words that says exactly what I mean, or as fine as I know how.
    CConsidering that few people make fine distinctions, le juste mot is a vain refinement.
    Hhealthy healthful
    iuninterested disinterested
    wwhich that
    from than

  6. Marcia Dutton says:

    Thank you for your generosity with your advise, info. and tips. Unselfish and helpful to us.i

  7. Shadrick G Lungu says:

    Great touch of sauce! Thank you

  8. GR Oliver says:

    These verbs are nice and active, but I’ll bet in 6 months we’ll be back using the old verbiage. When you “ask” for something, you don’t “beg.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.