Looking in the Thesaurus

I love the Thesaurus but it is a dangerous weapon. For example, if you look up alternatives for the verb look, you will get gaze, stare, glance, glare, glimpse, peep, peek, and ogle. While all of these words are reasonable alternatives for look, they don’t mean the same thing. Some refer to a quick look while others refer to a long or continuous look. Some are just an action while others imply a meaning or attitude with the action.

I never really thought about this until I found too many occurrences of the word glance in my novel. As I was searching for alternatives, I noticed that I had occasionally used glanced where I should have used looked, gazed or stared. So I decided to look up the definitions for all of these alternatives in that wonderful thing they call Google and this is what I found:

look – directing your eyes toward something and perceiving it visually
glance – a quick look
glimpse – a brief or incomplete view
peep – look with quiet, caution and secrecy
peek – a secret look
ogle – look at with amorous intentions
gaze – a long fixed look
stare – fixate one’s eyes
glare – an angry stare

As you can see, glance and glimpse are probably interchangeable, as are peek and peep, or gaze and stare, but despite what Microsoft may tell you, you cannot replace look with just any one of these words.

What’s next? Now I need to search for each of these words and make sure I am using the correct choice.

Category: On Writing