1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Antiseptic??

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Rumwriter, Dec 16, 2014.

    So, one definition of antiseptic is immaculate--overly clean, and pure.

    So, can I use antiseptic as an adverb, in this sentence: "The room was antiseptically bright." Does that make sense? Light isn't really clean, but somehow I feel like the term works. But, I could be mistaken. Words have nuances, so I want to make sure this is acceptable.
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    "Yes we can!"

    I would opt for a more common synonym, though, if you are really worried about it. The word can easily throw off readers since most people only recognize "antiseptic" as antimicrobial substances. Nevertheless, people use words in funny ways all the time. Whether it is acceptable or not depends on how people feel about the writer. Newbies are more likely to take the heat for coming up with new words or using words unconventionally than well-known writers.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    If it goes with the context I think it could definitely work and actually add some info without a lot of sentences. I.e. if a woman was a clean freak calling her all-white apartment antiseptically bright would give us a clue before you even show her doing anything.
     
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  4. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Although we don't have the full context, I think it could work if you are talking about a room that has been, as Peachalulu mentions, cleaned and cleaned again, drowned in bleach and disinfectant. If it's just a clean room, even something like a hospital ward, I don't think it does work.

    Antiseptic is made up from anti-, meaning against, and -septic, meaning infection. So antiseptic quite literally means 'against infection'. I think 'antiseptically' would really relate to something being cleaned using antiseptics.

    But, that's the fun with words. There are many times when you can twist them to mean whatever you want!
     
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  5. Shrubs
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    Shrubs Member

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    I think it makes sense but I'm no grammar expert. I do like your use of the word though, provided it's used in the correct context, because for me the word antiseptic is a bit dark and brings up imagery of a hospital and things that need to be very clean. So in that sentence "antiseptically bright" has a really nice contrast.
     
  6. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't get an image of what's happening. I take antiseptic to be a germ killer/mouth wash/wound treatment that sort of thing.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I like the idea, but I don't like "antiseptically." My personal preference would be to word it so that you can use the word antiseptic as an adjective rather than an adverb.

    The antiseptic brightness of the room, or whatever :)
     
  8. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Writing is all about imagery, not about dictionary correctness. I think it works. But if you are concerned, change bright to 'shining' or something.

    Or change it to a simile:
    The room was as bright as an antiseptically polished scalpel.
    Examples from the Web:

    I like 'antiseptically bright' as well as 'antiseptically cold'.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014
  9. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Doesn't work for me at all. It reads like a six syllable adjective enhancing another adjective (bright) describing the room.

    Why should antiseptic be associated with bright? Most readers would associate the word with clean.

    Antiseptically sounds so clumsy. What's wrong with, The room was clean and bright?
     
  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    That sounds like a bad perception of a hospital. Perhaps a place where people go to die? Rather than a place where people cheat death for a little longer.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That type of usage isn't uncommon. When I Google the definition of antiseptic, the second definition given is about something so clean or pure as to be bland or characterless. The example sentence speaks to the "antiseptic modernity" of a conference room. Synonyms include soulless, clinical, and institutional.

    I've seen that usage of antiseptic multiple times in fiction, I just don't like at adverb form. I think it makes for a clumsy sentence, as you say.
     
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  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    "Clean and bright" is boring. Careful you don't knock the legs out from under a writer with a little more ambition than that. Holding someone back to a third-grade writing level makes for dull literature. Sure, antiseptically is clumsy; I'm with @Steerpike - the adverb form doesn't work, but the adjective form might. The sentence needs a little work to read well, but I have no objection to the image.
     
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  13. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    I take full responsibility for you entirely missing my point. What you consider boring is neither here not there.

    Subjective and well-meaning comments were offered to the OP inferring that shorter, more readily understood adjectives may serve the writer and reader better than a six syllable word which has brought a variety of thoughts on the matter.

    I may have been more favourably disposed towards your post had it not been so smug. (See what I did there? One syllable in smug as opposed to five in supercilious.)

    The precise choice of wording for the OP is naturally up for debate. Why use six syllables when one or two accurately serve the same purpose? Concision is one of the aims in writing.

    Don't you agree?
     
  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with steerpike. I've seen this usage quite often - although again, not necessarily in the extra -ly form.

    Bland, lifeless, without character. Antiseptic. Yup.
     
  15. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    My apologies for sounding smug, or even supercilious. ("Smug," by the way, is one of those words people often use on forums to describe posts that disagree with their own.) I merely thought you had missed the point of the thread. It was clear to me that @Rumwriter must have already considered easy words like "clean" and rejected them in favor of something sharper, more startling, more focused: "antiseptic." He was just looking for validation in the use of the word in this context, and possibly for a way to phrase the sentence more elegantly. Directing him away from the vivid image back to the obvious, plain one isn't helping him.

    Actually, no. Concision is a bonus once other requirements are fulfilled. To me, the aims of writing are to move the reader emotionally, to stimulate thought intellectually, and, it is my deep hope, to leave enough residue in the reader's mind to change his view of life (not necessarily immediately, but over time). If I can get a foothold in any of those directions, I feel I'm doing well. I think some of these goals can best be achieved if the writing is memorable, and that means (among other things) using vivid and startling imagery.

    If, after all that, concision can still be achieved, well, that's nice too. But I've never seen a review of a novel in any major newspaper or magazine that says, "This book is bland, dull, and lifeless. However, I'm giving it an A+ because it's so concise."

    Writing is not golf. In golf, you win by completing the course in the fewest possible strokes. You don't win in writing by using the fewest possible syllables. Just write as well as you can, and leave the syllable-counting to those who like that sort of thing. :)
     
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  16. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Man, I'm impressed; I rejected the adverb right off the bat but your context works just...fine. More than that. It's great.
     
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  17. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    @minstrel.

    Thanks. That's a lot clearer. All part of my learning curve. :)
     

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