Wrong Word of the Day

Today’s wrong word is “smirk.”

Writers — especially beginning writers — use it far too much, and in the wrong places.  They use it in places where a wry smile, or even a plain ordinary smile, would be more appropriate.  They put it on the faces of characters who are meant to be sympathetic and likeable.  And they make me want to yell, “Stop!”

As Inigo Montoya says in The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

According to the dictionary, to smirk is to smile in an affected, often offensively self-satisfied manner., and a smirk is an affected, often offensively self-satisfied smile.

Neither of these are things that you should want associated with that nice character you hope that your readers will like and identify with.  That is all.

(All right.  I admit it.  It’s summer and I’m cranky.  But I’ve been carrying that peeve around with me for years.)

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