1. jayroebuck
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    jayroebuck Member

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    A word that eludes me

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by jayroebuck, Dec 11, 2009.

    I am looking for a particular word. It has been on the tip of my tongue for past couple days yet, I just can't grab it. It would fit into a sentence such as:
    The elephant _________ hid behind the broom stick.

    The meaning would be; futile, vain, without success, pointless, ignorant, a poor attempt

    I know when I see the word I will be able to sleep at night. Thanks for any help.
     
  2. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    feebly?
     
  3. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    The elephant futiley hid behind the broom stick. [That sounds wrong, though.]

    I'd use this instead:

    The elephant tried in vain to hide behind the broomstick.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    using an adverb is almost never the best way to go... better would be what marina suggests, or:

    and if you can't resist using an adverb, this one would work best, imo:

    but would work better as:

     
  5. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ineffectively?
    Unsuccessfully?
     
  6. Mister Micawber
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    Mister Micawber Member

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    'Fruitlessly'? It is difficult to find an adverb for that position in the sentence; 'in vain' or 'to no avail', which seem to me more appropriate, do not fit in the slot.
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    A search for the perfect adverb sometimes signals a storyline tidbit that begs for a little more space. Might take another sentence or two, even a paragraph, to show (the reader, another character, yourself) why this detail's significant. I don't think it ever hurts to give that a try, since anything you add can always be deleted later on if it reads like too much, while painting the picture with a few extra brush strokes sometimes helps a story more than you think.

    Another option is to choose how a character might experience (or interpret) this kind of clumsy, foolish (but interesting) illusion of invisibility you're aiming for here--something that adds to the weightiness (or levity) of the storyline moment.

    I'd play with it a little and see what happens.;)
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you use either of those, they'll have to be placed after 'hid' and not before it, to make good sense...
     
  9. Delphinus
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    Delphinus Senior Member

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    Ineffectually? It's a bit fruity, slightly musty, and totally impotent, but it might just work.

    Impotently would work if you were going for the elephant-fetish audience. ;)
     
  10. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    The elephant tried to hide behind the broomstick.

    The reader will do the rest of the work and catch on that's it's pretty pointless for an elephant to try and hide behind a thin stick.

    The problem with adverbs is that they take away reader-writer interaction and a reader can get pretty bored if everytyhing is spelt out for them. You need it occassioanlly to help pace etc, but sometimes the funniest scenes are done with the straightest of faces.
     
  11. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    futilely, maybe?
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Always consider that the problem may be in the overall means of expression, not just one word. As others have pointed out, even the best word choice will make a mediocre sentence, because the elephant truly cannot hide behind the broomstick. The attempt itself is foolish and ludicrous, and you don't really need to make that explicit in a word.

    The elephant tried to hide behind the broomstick.

    Is it really necessary to elaborate that it didn't work?
     

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