Diction Exercise (278)

Choose the words that are better choices for general communication than the words in boldface.

  • Governor Cuomo touted tax cuts in a speech at his party’s convention.

  • The University administration has asked the sorority girls to sponsor a summer reading program for children who will enter Fourth Grade in September.

  • State Police busted a drug operation in Salinas County on Tuesday.

  • One criticism of the new traffic director is that he is clueless.

  • New workshops aim to improve the lives of kids in the community.

Answers and Explanations

1. Governor Cuomo touted tax cuts in a speech at his party’s convention.

Correct: promoted
The word tout has become popular with political writers as a synonym for promote or advertise. However, the word retains unsavory connotations that suggest that the person who is "touting" something is trying to deceive or mislead.

2. The University administration has asked the sorority girls to sponsor a summer reading program for children who will enter Fourth Grade in September.

Correct: women
The time is past when it is acceptable to talk about college-age men as "men" and college-age women as "girls" or "coeds."

3. State Police busted a drug operation in Salinas County on Tuesday.

Correct: shut down
The word busted, although much used as a word for "arrested," or "halted," does not convey a clear idea of what actually happened, besides being inappropriate in a formal context.

4. One criticism of the new traffic director is that he is clueless.

Correct: uninformed
Clueless is an informal idiom used as a gentle synonym for ignorant; it is inappropriate in a formal context.

5. New workshops aim to improve the lives of kids in the community.

Correct: children
Children is the appropriate choice here; a "delinquent" is a person under the age of 18 who has broken the law; it doesn’t apply to all the children of a community.

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