Saint Mary's University Writing Centre

Halifax, NS

The Almost Right Word

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Kaplan University

Molly Wright Starkweather, Kaplan University Tutor

ThinkingThere is an old quotation from Mark Twain about word choice: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.” When teaching my daughter the word “bubbles” recently, I learned that there are some situations in which that stark line between the right word and the almost right word is blurred, in a good way. I was blowing bubbles from a toy wand for her, and I said, “Look! Bubbles!” Then I looked her in the eye and said, “Can you say ‘bubbles’?” She looked at my mouth and then responded: “Bubba. Bubba!” I could see her realization that she could try to say it, and I could tell how proud she was of how she worked the syllables together. It was not the right word, but it was almost the right word. That

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