Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Plethora Cringe


Let me preface today’s post by telling you it’s written tongue-in-cheek. (Since I’m writing this instead of speaking about it, would that be thumb-in-cheek?) Although the word makes me cringe, I promise I won’t pummel anyone who uses it. Very much.

There are few words I won’t use when writing (if I can help it.) Most of them are vulgar.

Today’s word, though, isn’t vulgar. At least a vulgar word has its uses–to shock or startle the reader or to show the character of the person using the word.

Today’s word is just useless. I mean, come on. It’s a stupid word. Okay, maybe not a stupid word, but an unnecessary one.

Today’s word? Plethora. (Bet you saw that one coming.)

According to–

noun–overabundance; excess: a plethora of advice and a paucity of assistance.

There are tons of much better words to use instead of plethora. Try deluge, flood, glut, many, much, overabundance, overflow, overkill, overmuch, plenty, profusion, superabundance, superfluity, surfeit or surplus.

Usually “a lot” will do the trick.

Yeah, yeah, I know. There’s an unwritten law that says all newby writers must use plethora somewhere in their work. Even if it’s never published. Even if it causes critique partners to scream and run the other way. Even if it makes the hair stand up on my neck and my ears bleed.

Much to my shame, I have used it myself, in one of my first manuscripts. (Hangs head.) I had my heroine, whose name I can’t remember, walk into a house, look around and see a plethora of doilies.


I’m embarrassed now, just thinking about it. (BTW: That manuscript isn’t just under the bed; it has been stabbed, shredded, burned, salted and buried deep in the ground for reasons besides the plethoric one.)

Why do I detest plethora?

  • It’s pretentious.
  • It’s three syllables when one will do.
  • It’s almost always a writer who’s trying to look like something she’s not. (Blush.)
  • And it makes me gag.

EXCEPT!  I loved it in The Three Amigos.

So ‘fess up. Are there any words that affect you like fingernails on a chalkboard?

Bonus points: Can you find a video to go along with it? 😛

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Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

2 thoughts on “Plethora Cringe

  1. I agree about THAT word. The first time I heard it several years ago I thought why didn’t they just say many or a lot?! I think some people say words like that because they think others will think they are smart! Here I’ve known you all of your life and I didn’t know that you are a writer! It’s too bad our two families didn’t get together more. I imagine the large number in both our families contributated to our not seeing each other more because I know we love each other. When I used to write more letters they were known as ” Bea books”. Love

    • You’re exactly right, Bea. From what I’ve learned (and believe me, I’m still learning) it’s best to write so everyone can understand what you’re saying without running for a dictionary.
      I don’t get a big push from my publishers YET, Bea. But I’m pressing on. And the more people who know I’m a writer and tell someone else, and on and on, the closer I’ll be.
      Thanks for dropping by!
      Love you, too!

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