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Blog Your Word Is Your Wand!

Your Word Is Your Wand!

By Colette Hiller | Guest Blog

Your Word Is Your Wand!

Your word is your wand!

As young writers, words are your everything. Which you choose and how you shape them is what makes your writing distinct. But the English language is so vast and rich – how do you even begin to take in new words? Or to know which to learn?

As a children’s writer, I wanted to write a book of useful big words that kids would enjoy knowing and using. But more than that, I wanted to make the discovery of these words as exciting as the words discovered. My new book, Colossal Words for Kids, defines 75 big words. But move over Mr. Dictionary! For these are no ordinary definitions. Each of these colossal words is defined in a simple rhyme. This helps the meaning stick in the mind. Plus, it’s entertaining.  

For example, take the word retaliate: The dictionary definition (‘To make an attack in return for a similar attack’) is hardly inspiring. But define it in rhyme and everything changes! Say the rhyme below aloud. (Even if nobody else is around!). Speak very clearly and try not to rush. And give any punch line a bit of a punch! 


If somebody calls you an old kangaroo

You might retaliate and call them one too

If somebody tries to give you a thwack

You might retaliate and give them one back

But really you mustn’t respond in this way

No need to retaliate – just walk away!

The reason to learn new words isn’t to sound like an irritating boffin! It’s that there is a marvellous feeling in knowing precisely the right word for something. Simple as that! It’s as satisfying as fitting a piece in a jigsaw. Who’d ever want to say second to last when instead you could say...penultimate!


You’ll find 8 lines inside this rhyme

the last one is the ultimate

the one that comes before the last

is known as the penultimate

Whatever is penultimate

Is next to last in line

And this is the penultimate

Of 8 lines in this rhyme!

English is full of words with different shades of the same meaning. Selecting the shade of word you’re after is the task and fun of the writer. Dangerous is similar to precarious, and yet they are slightly different.   


Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

And what a poor decision!

Clearly, he was in a most

precarious position

Didn’t it seem obvious

that danger lay ahead?

A wall is a precarious

position for an egg 

The reason it’s precarious

is that it’s not secure

One slip and little Humpty would be

scrambled egg for sure!

Words are the clothes thoughts wear.” This is a quote from the writer Samuel Beckett and is, I think, particularly relevant to you young writers. If you didn’t know a word for something, it would be harder to identify. Take the word Bravado. (Now there’s a lovely word to say aloud!) Once you know the word, you’ll recognise that quality when you see it. 


Although his knees were trembling

He spoke with great bravado

“I’m not at all afraid to fight

A ten foot avocado!

I’ve done this kind of thing before,”

boasted young Ricardo

But inside he was terrified

And feeling desperado

In no way could he ever slay

A ten foot avocado

For he was just a flea you see

who boasted with bravado

Finally young writers, I leave you with this last point: Knowing big words doesn’t make you sound long winded. On the contrary – it lets you get straight to the point, and to write with elegance and brevity!


When you speak with brevity

you don’t bang on and on

You quickly make your point and you don’t

faff or take too long

When you write with brevity

the very same is true

Why would you use 100 words

When 42 will do?

Colette Hiller is the author of Colossal Words for Kids, published by Quarto on May 9, 2024.

If you have a favourite rhyme from my book, I’d love to know which.  If you decide to write your own rhyming definition for another word, I’d love to see it! You can contact me at www.colettehiller.com.

Published: Thu 16th May 2024

Leave a comment


Even as an adult those words meant something we all need to relearn
by Tammy miles - 24-05-2024 11:36
This is a clever way to sneak in knowledge - with humour and rhyme. My children would really enjoy using this resource.
by Jennifer Kerr - 22-05-2024 14:49
That’s very clever way to explain words. Thank you
by Ivaanya - 17-05-2024 21:05
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