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Vague Word Matrix


When writing, you may often use the same vague words to describe a person, place, conversation, or situation. However, you can help your readers better understand and make your writing more interesting and precise by simply using stronger, more descriptive words. Here are some commonly used descriptive words as well as many alternatives. For example, if you want to describe something as good, you can choose from many options, all of which have specific meanings and connotations.


Mild: clearly, decidedly, distinctly, markedly, considerably, notably, largely, recognizably, especially, indubitably

Moderate: especially, surprisingly, substantially, uncommonly, chiefly, incredibly, obviously, unmistakably, considerably, awfully, wonderfully, particularly, “As _______ as ______”

Bold: profusely, unequivocally, strikingly, astonishingly, exceedingly, absolutely, exceptionally, extremely, unquestionably, vastly, incontestably

A Lot (time)

Mild: often, oftentimes, sometime

Moderate: frequently, usually, various, generally

Bold: regularly, recurrent, persistent

A Lot (size)

Mild: many, much, several

Moderate: numerous, bountiful, considerable

Bold: multitude, profuse, vast


Mild: sizable, ample, large, considerable, great, above average, important

Moderate: ponderous, significant, crucial, vast, copious, magnificent, substantial

Bold: Enormous, immense, colossal, extensive, endless, paramount, boundless, prodigious, imposing, gigantic, voluminous, limitless, essential


Mild: slight, limited, trivial, minor, light, puny, superficial, undersized, dinky, negligible, faint

Moderate: scant, petite, inconsiderable, microscopic, dwarf, unsubstantial, minimum, miniature, tiny

Bold: insignificant, minute, meager, infinitesimal, ineffectual, undetectable, inconsequential


Mild: acceptable, favorable, agreeable, pleasing, satisfactory, satisfying, super, able, relevant, accomplished, efficient, reliable, ample, useful, profitable, adequate, adept

Moderate: great, honorable, admirable, commendable, sound, splendid, superb, valuable, wonderful, worthy, clever, proficient, qualified, apt, skillful, thorough, wholesome

Bold: excellent, exceptional, gratifying, marvelous, reputable, stupendous, superior, exemplary, virtuous, expert, solid, advantageous, flawless, extensive, perfect


Mild: cheap, dissatisfactory, faculty, off, mean, wrong, unpleasant, unwell, low, grim, sour, regretful

Moderate: careless, defective, inferior, imperfect, deficient, rough, ill-suited, inadequate, unsatisfactory, delinquent, sinful, unruly, wicked, rancid, grave, harsh, terrible, downcast

Bold: awful, unacceptable, corrupt, dreadful, putrid, erroneous, detrimental, ruinous, vile, villainous, diseased, adverse, evil


“Utter Articulation: Instructional Potential of Word Matrices”
Kris, Gottlieb, Cami Whitehead, and David Clarke
Used with permission by the Sam Houston State University Writing Center, 3/2008

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