Hmmm, what on Earth does that title mean? Even Spock* looks puzzled. What it started out as, before I searched online for replacement words, is:
Beware the sneaky synonym.
Ok, why am I prattling on like this? Well, today a member of my family asked me for help with a cover letter for an application she was writing. As I was quite busy, most of the conversation was done by text messages:
Her: What’s another word for interesting?
Me: Tell me the rest of the sentence.
a few minutes passed………
Her: It’s ok, I found one.
Me: [Having been wrestling with good synonyms for interesting ]What, exactly?
I was firstly puzzled, then slightly alarmed, then I just had to stop what I was doing and phone her. I could not think of a single thing which she could describe as intriguing in a formal cover letter.
The original sentence had been What I find most interesting is palliative care. **
Now, although, when you look on a site such as Thesaurus.com and enter interesting in the synonym finder, it will return intriguing, it gives you many other suggestions too. Among these are:
alluring; amusing; delightful; exotic; fascinating and provocative.
Yes, they are all, in the right context, exchangeable for interesting. Surely, though, nobody would say What I find most amusing is palliative care. Please…you wouldn’t, would you?
The good old OED gives these two definitions:
That concerns, touches, affects, or is of importance; important.
That intrigues; forming secret plots or schemes. Also, that excites interest or curiosity; fascinating.
As you can see, although they are similar in some ways, they are very different in others. The English language [as we were taught in my undergraduate days by Dr Vikki Hulse] has no exact synonyms. Sites such as Thesaurus.com, and the synonym tool on Word, are very helpful when you’re not wanting to repeat a particular word too often. Remember, however, to avoid the shifty metonym at all costs and, whatever else you do, shun the disingenuous equivalent .
** the version we finally agreed upon was ‘The aspect of nursing which I am most drawn to is palliative care’