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William Strunk and E.B. White, in their highly-regarded book, The Elements of Style, say:

"Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place."

They have a point. Nouns and verbs work better especially when you're trying to paint a picture with words. Adjectives and adverbs are to nouns and verbs as stenciling is to painting.

But adjectives have their place. There are times when a well-chosen adjective (literally, one that lies [next to a noun]) can do the job of many words, such as when the purpose is to convey an idea quickly and succinctly.

So don't be afraid to use them, with restraint, particularly if you can find a fresh adjective. This week we'll feature five of these much-maligned words, words that drove Mark Twain to verbicide* ("When you catch an adjective, kill it").

*verbicide: destroying words

riant (RI-uhnt) adjective

Smiling, cheerful.

[From French riant, present participle of rire (to laugh), from Latin ridere (to laugh).]

"The Audley girls became the idols, the stars, the queens of our corps. Sunshine, the eldest, with her riant smile, her radiant eyes ..." Ouida; Randolph Gordon and Other Stories; Lippincott; 1867.

See more usage examples of riant in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.


There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either. -Robert Graves, poet and novelist (1895-1985)


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