Random epiphanies

I use the word “random” all the time. So, too, does everyone else. It’s great in informal language, but it’s beginning to piss me off in a recent manuscript. Observe the following:

Thread random blue and purple beads onto the string

No. The beads themselves are not random. They are strung in a random pattern.

God, that was so random!

In this usage, random has become the new “ironic,” used to mean many things that it doesn’t actually mean. In writing, take a close look at the word “random” and see if you can’t describe an event using more precise words.

She asked a random question

Sometimes a question is random, but more often, it is connected to something in the asker’s mind and preoccupations. Telling the reader about them will make for a better characterization.

What words do you hate today?

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12 responses to “Random epiphanies

  1. My all time favoUrite use of random was “Random Task”, the baddie in that Mike Myers 007 spin off (name escapes me and too lazy to “consult the oracle”.) Riffing on Odd Job from I think Golfinger.
    .
    Yup, I watched a lot of James Bond films in my formative years.

    My pet peeve today is “people carrier” – British term for mini van. Sometimes the terminology here is really poetic, other times, not so much.

  2. Appropriate (adj).

    So condescending! So frilly bloused, school-marmy, why-don’t you-learn-the-rules-y. Say what you mean! Awkward-Curious-out of place-surprising-Offensive-irritating-etc…

    We don’t say “goldfinger” where I live, Downith. What do people think it means? what do you think it actually means?

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