Memorable writing that sparks imagination. Lean in. Hear the writer’s voice on the page.
By Ken Delpit
What’s in a look?
Quite a lot, actually. Consider looks in their simple verb forms, for instance.
The meanings range from imperatives to advisories to admonitions to out-and-out warnings.
Look away. Look up. Look over there. Look down. Look around. Now, look here! Look sharp! Look out! Look at you!
Or, consider the noun forms. As with its cousin verb forms, noun looks span a range of meanings, from complimentary to critical to probing to mysterious.
Let’s take a quick look. That is a bad look for him. They kind of gave me a funny look. We need to take a deep look. Now, that is a good look for you. I was left speechless when she gave me that look.
Or, consider “ing” forms to describe appearances and states, from transitory to reputational to habitual.
Looking tired. Looking confident. Looking like a winner. No thank you, just looking. Looking surprised. Looking smug and haughty. Looking like you’re enjoying yourself. Looking Good!
In short, if you find yourself stranded on a desert island, and you have only a few words at your disposal, you could survive pretty well if “look” is among them. Well, that and a solar-powered satellite cell phone.
Thank you, Ken, for this fun take on the word look.
Ken Delpit has been writing for quite a while, that is if you count computer programming and technical documentation as “writing.” Since leaving those professions behind, Ken has discovered an exciting new world of creative writing. He is now giddily exploring new devices, such as adjectives, subtlety, mystery, and humans with emotions and feelings.
Aternatives for the word look, from Daily Writing Tips:
“Look, it’s perfectly acceptable to use the verb look, but don’t hesitate to replace this fairly ordinary-looking word with one of its many more photogenic synonyms. Many of these substitutions come in especially handy when it comes to finding one word to take the place of look-plus-adverb or look-plus-adjective-and-noun, as the definitions demonstrate.”
1. Blink: to look at with disbelief, dismay, or surprise or in a cursory manner
2. Browse: to look at casually
3. Consider: to look at reflectively or steadily
4. Contemplate: to look at extensively and/or intensely
5. Dip (into): to examine or read superficially
6. Eye: to look at closely or steadily
7. Fixate (on): to look at intensely
8. Gape: to look at with surprise or wonder, or mindlessly, and with one’s mouth open
9. Gawk: see gape
10. Gawp: see gape (generally limited to British English)
11. Gaze: to look steadily, as with admiration, eagerness, or wonder
12. Glare: to look angrily
13. Glimpse: to look briefly
14. Gloat: to look at with triumphant and/or malicious satisfaction
15. Glower: to look at with annoyance or anger
16. Goggle: to look at with wide eyes, as if in surprise or wonder
17. Leer: to look furtively to one side, or to look at lecherously or maliciously
18. Observe: to look carefully to obtain information or come to a conclusion, or to notice or to inspect
19. Ogle: to look at with desire or greed
20. Outface: to look steadily at another to defy or dominate, or to do so figuratively
21. Outstare: see outface
22. Peek: to look briefly or furtively, or through a small or narrow opening
23. Peep: to look cautiously or secretively; see also peek (also, slang for “see” or “watch”)
24. Peer: to look at with curiosity or intensity, or to look at something difficult to see
25. Peruse: to look at cursorily, or to do so carefully
26. Pore (over): to look at intently
27. Regard: to look at attentively or to evaluate
28. Rubberneck: to look at in curiosity
29. Scan: to look at quickly, or to look through text or a set of images or objects to find a specific one
30. Skim: see scan
31. Stare: to look at intently
32. Stare (down): to look at someone else to try to dominate
33. Study: to look at attentively or with attention to detail
34. Watch: to look carefully or in expectation
35. Wink: to look at while blinking one eye to signal or tease another person