Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

Then there are words with wide ranges of meaning — I’m talking about connotations

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Not a euphemism, nor exactly a misused word, but “mountain” is one of those terms so broadly defined and widely used that you could debate the value of it.

For example, I was looking at a website earlier today about Pigeon Forge cabin rentals, located in the Smoky Mountains. I’ve never been to the Smoky Mountains, although I’ve skirted along the edges on a couple of trips eastward from my home in Missouri. But are they really “mountains”? Or are they mostly just “hills”? How would you understand the difference — or is there a difference?

Likewise, I live in a region known at the Ozarks. This region has also been referred to as the “Ozark Mountains,” which is really inaccurate by the terms of just about any “mountains” I’ve seen.

Of course, there are the Adirondacks, the Appalachians, the Rockies, and the Cascades — all of them dubbed mountain ranges. I’m not sure about the Adirondacks. I would grant “mountain” status to all the others. And, oddly enough, I have been in parts of the Black Hills region in the Dakotas and Wyoming which I would grant are “mountains,” not just “hills.”

Much of my problem with “mountain,” I suppose, lies in the connotation I’ve given it — it really needs to involve serious rocks and craggy peaks or it just isn’t a mountain, it’s a “hill.”

What are some words which carry connotations to you that make them easily misused or misleading? Any? What are some of the possibilities in your writing related to connotations?
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