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Author Vocabulary Calendar

Amy: Cornucopia. What a mellifluous word.
Sheldon: Let's make that our word of the day.
Amy: Agreed. And we'll use mellifluous tomorrow.
The Big Bang Theory, "The Desperation Emanation"

Ever suspect that an author has a quirky Word-of-the-Day Calendar? Some really egregious, often sesquipedalian, word appears in the text, perhaps not used in a completely natural way, and perhaps used in a manner egregiously inconsistent with the character's native idiolect. It appears two or three more times in subsequent egregious text, in in-egregious-creasingly unlikely settings and then is never seen again.

If it does get used more consistently than that, it overlaps with Author Catchphrase.

This is mostly a literary trope. Although there are examples wherever a single author has a distinguishable voice (or is just plain verbose), shows and movies are usually expensive enough to produce that this gets filtered out, not to mention that TV and movie audiences supposedly have all the vocabulary of the average toddler anyhow.

Compare this to Perfectly Cromulent Word, where fictitious words are inserted in an attempt to sound smart, Malaproper, where similar-sounding words are used in the place of others and Delusions of Eloquence, where the words do exist but are misused in an attempt to sound smart.

Reviewers seem to use this trope en masse.

Magic Franchise Word is when this is done by the fans.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Comics: EXCELSIOR!
  • Ambush Bug: ADVANTAGEOUS!
  • Alan Moore apparently loves to have his characters say "apparently". Incidentally, he is also a big fan of the term "incidentally". He uses it instead of "by the way" whenever possible.
  • Elongated Man makes note of this phenomenon in an issue of Formerly Known as the Justice League.

    Fan Fiction 
  • There's a Neon Genesis Evangelion fanfic (EVAR, if memory serves correctly) where Rei's eyes were always being referred to as "alazarin". Alizarin (or "alizarin crimson") happens to be a deep bluish-red pigment — and probably the true color of Rei's eyes, at that. But it still looks like fanfic thesaurusitis. (There's an entire family of dyes/pigments called "alizarine <color name>". The actual compound known simply as "alizarin", though, is a pretty good match for Rei's eyes.)
  • The Rebuild Of Nobody Dies really likes the word "warble".
  • In the 1990s, almost every other story featuring Tom Paris from Star Trek: Voyager called his blue eyes "cerulean". Cerulean eyes in story after story. Worst part: cerulean is a specific shade of blue, and his eyes aren't that shade.
    • In Pokémon fanfic, Misty's eyes are often "cerulean" as well. They're blue-green, so it's accurate enough, but the real reason is that her gym is located in Cerulean City.
  • Harry Potter Turns to the Lord: There were demons embezzled in Harry's soul.
  • My Immortal: Those limpid tears. Statistically
    • Sexily.
  • There used to be a sample from some unknown fanfic — not the legendary The Eye of Argon; this one is even worse — being circulated and mocked on the Net which had prose so purple that it was practically unreadable; unfortunately, all the pages containing it seem to have disappeared. To give an inkling of what it was like: it referred to someone's eyes with the word "syndicates:" "syndicate" -> "circle" -> "orb" -> "eye."
  • The authors of Undocumented Features are overly fond of the word "sardonic", which they seem to use to describe every third facial expression.
  • Several characters in the Lord of the Rings fanfic The Captain and the King are extremely concerned about Gondor's "weal."
  • Rise Of The Tau, an otherwise awesome fic, uses the various tenses of "thunder" and "coruscate" way too much. One sentence even had 'two' occurrences of "thundered" in it.
    • Not to mention the amount of times the author uses brace instead of two or a pair.
  • The entire Doctor Who fandom has a perennial love affair with the words "gravitas", "pantomime" and "nadir".
  • It seems practically blasphemy NOT to describe Yugi's eyes as "amethyst-colored orbs." The Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfiction-writing fandom was particularly fond of its overuse of the word "orb." Dear GOD it was fond of it...
  • Many of Hans Von Hozel's So Bad, It's Good fanfics use "danube" as a verb.
  • Though certainly not a particularly bad offender, one of the later arcs of the Pokémon fic Latias Journey uses the word "piscene" a few times for some reason.
  • Read enough lemons and it won't be long before you get sick of "ministrations".
  • The self-published "tribute novel"-slash-sequel to Twilight book Breaking Dawn got the unfortunate title Russet Noon. Russet is a Perfectly Cromulent Word, but since it's most commonly associated with a breed of potatoes (or apples in the UK), this became a source of great mocking.
  • The English translation of Knight Of Lolicon really likes the word "fulminating". Possibly Justified in that the translation, while readable, is mediocre at best, so it may sound more natural in the original Spanish.
  • Parodied in the Death Note fic The Human Whose Name Is Written In This Fanfiction:
    "This is apparently what people do when they like each other; they list the physical attributes of the other person using creative metaphors. L so happens to describe Light more like a pastry than an attractive young college student. Readers are supposed to accept this because L likes sweets." And "Misa sniffed, her sapphire eyes wet with tears and her ruby lips shaking (because Misa can only be described using gemstones)."
  • Almost every time the sky comes up in Frigid Tears And Burning Hearts, it's described with the word "welkin".

    Film 
  • Let's try Director Vocabulary Calendar...for a laugh, watch the director's commentary for X2: X-Men United some time and take a swig each time Bryan says "ultimately". If you make it all the way through, your liver will never recover.
  • "Abomination" in Lilo & Stitch. He's a killer Space-Dropbear! He warrants it! "Imagine, if you will..." also gets used several times in the DVD commentary.
  • The climax of the Oscar-nominated Israeli film Footnote is built around this trope.

    Literature 
  • Alan Dean Foster with book names such as "Phylogenesis".
    • Go through Foster's novelization of Star Wars some time (the byline says "George Lucas", but Foster wrote it). Count the number of times gauges — or something else, but usually gauges — whine in protest.
  • Stephen Donaldson, as a Doctor of English, uses some pretty arcane words frequently. The narrator's use of "argent" and "lambent" come to mind. It might be possible to identify a specific year of a specific Word-of-the-Day Calendar with each of Donaldson's books. Good-naturedly covered at Stephen R. Donaldson Ate My Dictionary.
    • Notoriously, at one point in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant he describes some creatures as being "featureless and telic, like lambent gangrene."
    • Nick Lowe's essay The Well-Tempered Plot Device describes the sport of "Clench Racing" in Donaldson novels.
  • The narrator of M. John Harrison's recent science fiction novel Light uses the word "ruched" several times, among others. There's also 'etiolated'?
  • In several of Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer stories, written in different decades, the Shakespearean phrase "alarums and excursions" is spoken, each by a different character, none of whom would naturally use this phrase. The first couple of times it is misspelled as "alarms and excursions".
  • Rex Stout, creator of gourmand-turned-P.I. Nero Wolfe, made a point of using a few unfamiliar words in every Wolfe story or novel he wrote; the words would usually be utilized by Wolfe himself or his business partner, Archie Goodwin. Given, however, that Wolfe likes to flaunt his intellect in true Hercule Poirot fashion, Stout may have been doing this as character development - at least when Wolfe does it. When Archie Goodwin does it, it occasionally approaches Sophisticated as Hell.
    • One novel has Wolfe identifying the author of a piece of text by how often particular words show up.
    • In one early novel, all the characters are 'ejaculating' all over the place. As in, exclaiming. Very much a case of Have a Gay Old Time.
  • Gene Wolfe uses many obscure words, real and otherwise, particularly in The Book of the New Sun. The obscure, but real, word 'tribadist' (lesbian) appears next to the word 'algophilist' (from context, one who enjoys inflicting pain on another, but somehow different from sadist). Algophilia, by the way.
    • In a nice bit of Lampshade Hanging, the narrator says this about his teacher: "He mispronounced quite common words: urticate, salpinx, bordereau." What's more, if you look up the meanings, they are words that it would be reasonable for the character in question to know.
  • Older than Television: Bram Stoker, Dracula, and the word "voluptuous," making this one older than word-of-the-day calendars.
  • Mary Shelley likes to use the words "benevolent," "wretch," and "countenance" in Frankenstein.
  • The Tairen Soul books and "claiming".
  • China Miéville:
    • He uses the word "concatenate" and its derivatives too often in Iron Council. It only comes up a few times, but it's such an unusual word that it stands out.
    • There's also his frequent use of "puissant". His entire brain appears to be an Author Vocabulary Calendar, to the extent that it requires a dictionary — a large dictionary — to tell which words are obscure technical terms, which ones are Britishisms, and which ones he made up out of whole cloth. If there aren't a dozen five-dollar words on the page — you're probably looking at the title page.
    • Miéville uses tons of very obscure words to describe landscapes. If you've taken a few geology classes, you'll know most of these (and that they're not always correct), but you've never seen as many instances of words like "graben" or "arete". Most notable in Iron Council.
    • Perdido Street Station contains a remarkable number of things which are "jagged" or "jags" of some material, also, four things being described as "inchoate" is about three things too many for one book.
  • E. E. “Doc” Smith of Lensman fame does this with words like "lambent", "coruscating", etc.
  • H.P. Lovecraft had a reputation for this. Some words commonly associated with him include: "cyclopean" (though that does refer to a specific type of architecture), "eldritch", "gambrel" (used to describe a two-sided roof with two slopes on each side), "squamous" (scaly), "rugose" (ridged), "gibbous" (humped), "chthonic" (living in the ground), "charnel" (relating to dead bodies), "non-Euclidean", "Paleogean", "ululation" (a drawn-out, high-pitched, warbling moan or howl), and "demoniac", though how much he actually used such words is exaggerated. Lovecraft was also attached to the noun "vigintillion," which crops up in both The Dunwich Horror and The Call of Cthulhu, and means either 10^63 or 10^120.
    • Charles Stross parodied this in The Atrocity Archives, where "squamous and rugose" is apparently a Running Gag in the house Bob Howard shares with Pinky and the Brain.
    • Also parodied in the Munchkin card game, where the words are Monster Enhancement cards, featuring a creature described by the card's adjective and a munchkin looking the word up in a dictionary.
  • More excusable than some, Tad Williams came up with the Greek-derived term 'pentecount' (referring to a unit of fifty) for Shadowmarch and uses it quite frequently.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold describes approximately two characters per book as "saturnine" - generally, whoever is being the deadpan foil to Miles at the time. The "saturnine" is to emphasize the deadpan. She also uses "dour" a lot. And "waft". "Suasion" and "ingenuous" (as opposed to persuasion and disingenuous) she uses less commonly, but the latter is rare and the former almost nonexistent with anybody else.
  • Brave New World considers everything "pneumatic": an overstuffed chair cushion is a "pneumatic chair"; two women ask each other if they are "too pneumatic" the way normal women ask if an outfit makes them look fat; a character even mentions how "pneumatic" Bernard's semi-girlfriend is - after having sex with her. It's always the characters saying it, however, so it's probably more an example of fictional slang than anything.
    • It's actually a Real Life period thing. For a while during that time "pneumatic" was a common word (at least among Sci-Fi writers) when referring to women with large breasts and hips. Similar to words like "built", "stacked", "full-figured", "shapely", "voluptuous" and "zaftig". The Demolished Man even refers to plastic surgery as "pneumatic surgery" when referring to a woman who had her breasts enlarged.
  • George Orwell seems to enjoy "comrade" and "invariably" (the latter of which shows up particularly often in 1984).
  • Charles DeLint uses the term "little say" at least once a book.
  • In his excellent book about China, travel writer Colin Thubron went through a curious love affair with the word "shriven", which does not mean what he thinks it means. It means "absolved by confession", but he uses it as if it meant something like "wizened, exhausted, dried up." Maybe he was thinking of "shriveled". According to a book review by Scott Malcomson, use and misuse of obscure words is common throughout Thubron's writing: "I'm not at all certain, however, that mare's milk can be 'fomented' (though it is fermented)."
  • An odd example — Steven Brust's fictional narrator Paarfli often uses the phrase "a propos" as a lead-in to paragraphs. "Apropos" is now the name of a software package. About half the time, people incorrectly pronounce the 's', which is silent.
  • Piers Anthony can't seem to get through a single book without describing something as "quiescent." He loved using the word balk in the earlier Xanth books.
  • Ever notice that Edgar Allan Poe seems to like the word "arabesque"? Also "singular"
  • Robert Newcomb's novels, and how! Everything that would normally be blue is "azure"; every single room, meal, and set of clothing is "sumptuous". These are far from the only examples, but Newcomb is particularly bad for only consulting the thesaurus once and then using that obscure word for the rest of his series.
  • Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy: "incipient" appears about ten times in three books and stands out.
    • Nix also seems to like the word "inimical", which appears repeatedly in the aforementioned series as well as Keys to the Kingdom.
  • Neal Stephenson characters have a thing for referring to Japanese people as Nipponese. "Nippon" is a more accurate English translation of the country's name, it's not nearly as popular a term as Stephenson's writing makes it appear. The word also gets discussed a few times. A character in Snow Crash corrects another character's incorrect usage of the slur "nip," which is taken from the word Nipponese. In another book, a character notes that the Colonel's use of the word "jap" instead of "nip" indicated that he did not serve in Asia.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the word 'surreptitious' is used six times. Interestingly enough, however, it is far less present in the rest of the books.
    • The word "rent" meaning "torn apart" is used several times, used figuratively.
    • J. K. Rowling is probably the last writer in the English language to use "ejaculated" as an innocuous synonym for "said". She only did it a couple times, but it was memorable enough that the fandom has been taking the mickey out of it ever since.
    • "Play a drinking game with the term 'darkly' and... die of alcohol poisoning," he said darkly.
  • The Twilight series contains a lot of these, which is slightly understandable since Stephenie Meyer is an English major and her narrator wants to seem sophisticated. Stephenie Meyer's favorite words are "Adonis," "incredulous" and "chuckle." Seriously, characters sometimes "chuckle" (insert adverb here) several times on a single page.
    • Apparently "chagrin" as well, if you believe this fanfic
    • Likewise, variations on "Sparkle" and "Dazzle" and their similes. Case in point: "He was both dazzling and dazzled".
    • "Scintillating" as a much-needed synonym for "sparkling," as in "Edward's scintillating arms." It's actually correct, albeit archaic, usage. In modern English, it's more common to see the word used to mean "witty," as in "scintillating conversation," but the word's original definition is "to emit sparks."
  • Mervyn Peake, author of Gormenghast, tends to use the word 'qualm' to mean 'shiver or ripple, as of delight' and, oddly, 'prank' to mean 'blotch or spot, pick out, color, highlight'. Also, the Tower of Flints is a blasphemous finger of stone pointing at the sky.
  • Enid Blyton and "lashings" in relation to food, the root of the famous Beam Me Up, Scotty! "lashings of ginger beer". Also it's quite fun to imagine Bakura whipping people with a beverage.
  • During the writing of Summer Knight, Jim Butcher seems to have fallen in love with the word "basso". Nearly everyone's voice is described as such. It also appears about five times over the course of First Lord's Fury. Butcher is also fond of "chitinous" and "susurrus."
    • The man's obsession with thews borders on unnerving.
    • Less frequent, but more obscure, are "obstreperous" and "insouciance".
  • This trope is Played for Laughs and practically referenced by name in The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. The narrator actually does have a WOTD calendar and will often look for opportunities to use the words from it.
  • Tamora Pierce's characters do everything with "grim good humor." Everyone has "masses" of hair that "fights" to escape its accessories, unless it's "cropped" short. If they're in pain, expect their muscles to "scream." They'll never grab or hold anything, only "grip" it. And more than one character has a "thin blade of a nose" (this is contracted to "thin-bladed nose" on one occasion, which barely makes sense).
  • In Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy, characters rarely seem to do anything "quickly," but they're constantly doing things "with alacrity."
  • Dan Brown seems to love the phrase "quantum leap". It's used quite liberally in The Lost Symbol.
  • David Eddings had an obscurely peculiar fascination with the words "obscure," "peculiar," and "fascination." Also "prosaic", and don't even get me started on how many times a character will say something "blandly".
    • Also seem to have abruptly discovered, and fallen in love with, the word "genuflect" during the writing of Polgara the Sorceress.
  • Christopher Paolini has this habit when he writes: characters, many of whom do not have any sort of formal education (or are even downright illiterate), strangely have college level vocabularies, even when their status or profession would have them calling something differently. In text, he'll often pull a 25 point word from nowhere because, while he could have used several smaller words, or different ones altogether, he just had to use that big one, even if it chunks up the sentence, ruins the flow, and really has no place being there among such other common words.
    • Nobody ever camps out—they "bivouac." (It isn't even used correctly half the time, as "bivouac" refers to a strictly no-tents-no-nothing military operation and not just setting up bedrolls and a fire in the woods.)
    • He also has a tendency to use words that seriously clash with the Tolkienesque fantasy setting, such as parachuting obviously modern words like "psychedelic" into the middle of a passable imitation-KJV spiel.
    • Christopher Paolini basically does this in spades. It's like every character has a Vocabulary Calendar…and no one in-universe seems to notice how bizarre it is. The most excusably eloquent creatures in the world even tell the farmboy that his mastery of the elusive and ancient magical language is "perfect" after only a few months' practice of being literate. Not to mention the rough draft of his apparent anachronistic invention of quasi-autobiographical, modern free-verse poetry.
  • Ian Fleming in the James Bond novels seems to have a fondness for "elegant."
  • Raymond E. Feist really, really loves the words "alien" and "quietly". Especially noticeable in his earlier books where "Character Name Sat Quietly" is a noticeably common way of opening a chapter.
  • Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 does this with a made-up word ("flabble", roughly synonymous with "whine") that was eventually invented and popularized in the alternate America of the series.
    • The prequel How Few Remain, set in the 19th century, does this with the (then-popular) term "absquatulate".
  • Terry Brooks loves to use "dissemble" for lie in the Shannara series.
  • The Eye of Argon. Nobody ever talks, they ejaculate, eyes are always referred as orbs or something, and there's one mention of a person having a "lithe, opaque nose". Especially special is "posterior," as in "Descending the flight of arced granite slabs to their posterior," because it's obvious that Jim Theis looked up the wrong sense of the word "bottom" in a thesaurus.
    • And it misspells and misuses the words nearly every time.
  • Scott Westerfelt uses "fawesome" in The Last Days pretty much constantly, like it's the only slang word in existence. The word "fexcellent" is used as well.
  • As an Oxford-trained English professor, J. R. R. Tolkien had an exceptionally strong command of the English language, and his use of words like fulminate, haubergeon, confusticate and puissant certainly help establish the grandness (and comedy) of his masterpieces, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This kind of language shows up just as much in the texts that became The Silmarillion, and in The Lost Tales and Lays of Beleriand it gets so archaic that the editor provided an anachronistic-and-obscure-English-words glossary for each volume.
  • Robin Hobb uses the word "fellow" a LOT in the Tawny Man Trilogy. With different meanings.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, we have Troy Denning's "efflux"
    • Michael Kaminski, in The Secret History of Star Wars, uses "inevitable" and "inevitably" way too much, and often incorrectly.
  • The English translation of The Count of Monte Cristo. There are about seventeen uses of "singular" in one chapter.
  • Antony Horowitz has a thing for "somehow" (And Gun Porn, natch, but that's irrelevant).
  • Conan the Barbarian stories get a lot of miles out of "lithe" and "supple." And you can always identify the titular barbarian: he's the one who's described as "bronzed" and "tigerish" (or "wolfish") with eyes like "balefire."
  • Philip Pullman really likes the word "presently."
    • Also "passionate/passionately". No, not like that. Mostly.
    • Another slightly outdated phrase he likes is 'breast' in the sense of general chest. For example, Lyra clutches Pantalaimon to her breast frequently.
  • Philip K. Dick used "presently" a lot.
  • Isaac Asimov seems to really like the word "sardonic".
  • Timothy Zahn likes to refer to conversations as " 'words' Character said to the other". He is also a fan of the Punctuation Shaker for alien names.
  • Orion Fowl seems to have a thing about bivouacs. (A Running Gag?)
  • The Legend of Drizzt: Of late, R.A. Salvatore has eschewed all other way to say "used hand gestures for magic spell" in favor of "waggled their fingers". Waggled? That guy just lightning-ed a lich back to a briny undeath!. Also, any attack with a blunt weapon "blasts" the opponent.
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs says describes Tarzan as having a "smooth brown hide" a lot.
  • Daniel Handler parodies this through A Series of Unfortunate Events, using a big word then providing a definition that probably isn't accurate, but which does give a decent sense of the meaning intended for the situation, usually prefacing said definitions with the phrase "a word which here means...". It's funny if you know the word already, and educational if you don't. Everybody wins!
  • Charlotte Brontë really seemed to enjoy describing black things, particularly people's black hair or eyebrows, as "jetty."
  • The Ciaphas Cain book Duty Calls may create an allergy to the word "scuttling" (as in "scuttling horrors", "scuttling movement", "scuttling noises" and pretty much everything else related to Tyranids) in its readers.
    • Absolutely anything out of the ordinary (but especially things relating to Hypercompetent Sidekick Jurgen) can be described as "preternatural".
  • Bernard Cornwell, in the Sharpe series and elsewhere, likes using the word "flensed" in the context of battle wounds.
  • George R. R. Martin has a thing for using the word song in book titles. His novel series is called A Song of Ice and Fire, and his other works include A Song for Lya, Songs of Stars and Shadows, and Songs Dead Men Sing. Not to mention two story collections he edited, Songs of The Dying Earth and Songs of Love and Death.
    • It comes up within A Song of Ice and Fire as well. Turnips and the use of "jape" (occasionally "jest") instead of "joke" stand out most in the latest novel. It's not always clear whether they are deliberate attempts to get a more old-fashioned feeling for his medieval-esque world, or this trope.
    • "Half a hundred" is clearly his favorite number, "half a heartbeat" his favorite length of time, and "half a groat" his favorite amount of money. (It starts out with "in a heartbeat" simply being overused; then "in/for half a heartbeat" is introduced and takes over in a big way. By A Dance with Dragons time is being measured in integers-greater-than-one of heartbeats.) He also uses "raper" instead of "rapist" for some reason, and "craven" as a noun much more often than "coward." Vomiting is only ever "retching" (which is confusing, since that usually means to gag without actually puking).
    • In A Dance with Dragons the world 'leal' for 'loyal' seemed to be on every other page.
    • A ridiculous situation is always a "mummers' farce." Actors and non-musical performers are only called "mummers."
    • Boiled leather. So common that a fansite is called "All Leather Must Be Boiled".
    • He also likes to use the phrase "must needs" instead of just must or need.
    • In A Feast for Crows, characters with uncles refer to them as "nuncle" (a phrasing not found in earlier books in the series).
    • It seems that GRRM bought himself a dictionary of uncommon words between A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. All of a sudden, King's Landing is building galleas and dromonds.
    • And, of course, his love of switching around the words of phrases to make them more obtuse and sound fanciful. No one is "twenty one" years old, they are one and twenty. There aren't 45 somethings, there are five and forty. You're not a grown man, you're a man grown. And so on.
  • Christopher Hitchens was noticeably fond of "lucid", "mordant", and especially "trenchant".
  • Brandon Sanderson throws around "maladroitly" in the Mistborn Trilogy quite a bit with the main character.
  • Nora Roberts' characters have a 'yen' for something at least once a novel - which is a pretty considerable amount. It can be for anything from peach ice cream to softcore romance novel sex.
  • Jame Rollins likes to work in the 'limned' with increasing frequency.
  • Neal Shusterman really likes to use the term 'boeuf' to describe strong people or military personnel.
  • Evidently, Dean Koontz is a big fan of "evidently."
  • In-universe example in Unseen Academicals. Glenda knows a lot of strange words because they're the favorite words of romance novel writers. Though she isn't sure about "reticule" and "boudoir."

    Live-Action Television 
  • Kids in the Hall did this in universe with a sketch where a guy on a construction site constantly used the word "ascertain" and proceeds to force various conjugations of it when the foreman calls him on it and requests that he stops. The sketch ends when the foreman thanks the man for the opportunity to "delineate" the problem. Delineate appeared on the screen and the man experienced a Eureka Moment through the fourth wall.
  • In order to appear more intelligent than he really was, GOB spent an episode of Arrested Development shoehorning the word "circumvent" into conversation after learning the word from Michael.
  • Episodes of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers would have this, seemingly having episodes based on phrases like "deja vu" and "vice-versa."
  • The Big Bang Theory, "The Desperation Emanation": Sheldon and Amy apparently engage in this activity:
    Sheldon: [Leonard]’s a cornucopia of social awkwardness.
    Amy: Cornucopia. What a mellifluous word.
    Sheldon: Let’s make that our word of the day.
    Amy: Agreed. And we’ll use mellifluous tomorrow.
  • Done in-universe in an episode of Boy Meets World where Eric has an actual word-of-the-day calendar. Unfortunately, the episode deals with relationship issues and the word of the day is "estranged". For the whole week. (Paraphrased:)
    "They can't get back together today! Today's 'estranged' day! They can get back tomorrow when the word is [tears sheet off calendar] 'estranged' - HEYYY!"
    "OK, not today, or tomorrow, but the next day when the word is [tears another sheet] 'estranged' - HEYYYYYY!"
    "That's the last time I buy something from www.howdysucker.com."

    Music 
  • YouTube recently got some Fully Automatic Clip Show videos demonstrating such repetition: Metallica likes death, Slayer likes Satan, Megadeth likes to kill (and life - that one is probably motivated by Metallica's one), and AC/DC likes rock n' roll.
  • Nine Inch Nails: a lot.
  • Green Day really likes "testify," "suicide," and any reference to crucifixion.
    • Also "cigarettes." It appears at least once in every album they have ever put out, and was almost part of an album title.
  • Blink182 "I'm (so) Sorry"
  • Any song off of the Bad Religion album "Suffer" pretty much qualifies:
    I heard them say that the meek shall reign on earth
    Phantasmal myriads of sane bucolic birth
    I see the rapture in a starving baby's eyes
    Inchoate beatitude, the lord of the flies
  • It seems Rhapsody of Fire say "mighty" at least once a song, on their older albums at least. "Holy" is also an unusually common adjective ("unholy" is frequent too for that matter).
  • Oceanborn by Nightwish, with "Stargazers" as the most obvious example. Granted, Tuomas Holopainen was barely 19 when he wrote that stuff.
  • Disturbed tends to use the word "hell" a lot, including a song carrying the name. Averted by "Shout 2000" however; it's a cover with "Gave'em hell" already in its lyrics.
  • The list of Rammstein songs that reference the sun shining in some way includes "Rammstein," "Engel," "Küss Mich (Fellfrosch)," "Mein Herz Brennt," "Sonne," "Mutter," "Morgenstern," "Mann Gegen Mann" and "Hilf Mir." Liebe Ist Für Alle Da is the only album where this theme does not come up.
  • Hymn writers do this frequently, and not just because of common subject matter; for example, Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) seemed to have a particular thing for vineyards, especially "The Vineyard". In her defence, she wrote over 8,000 religious poems, so some repetition is inevitable.
  • The Beatles have a thing for the sun, mentioning it in at least a dozen songs, and including as a part of song titles a few times as well. Makes a bit more sense considering that they're most often thought of as writing "happy" music.
  • Kamelot lyrics seem to like to use carmine wherever a word meaning a shade of red needs to be used.
  • Britney Spears: Known to use "Baby" and "Crazy" to the extent special videos have been made about her habit of using these words.
  • Ville Valo of the Finnish love metal band HIM seems to have a fixation on the words "baby" and "darling", and will put these two words into his lyrics whenever possible. Same goes for "six six six".
  • Australian Idol Singer Cody Simpson likes to start his songs with the ad-lib, "I like this right here".
  • Miley Cyrus and "something special", either as herself or Hannah Montana.
  • Roger Waters frequently mentions "the stone", walls, "recourse to the law", "pie in the sky", "Donald Duck light", and using "babe"/"ooh babe" as an affectionate name for a female (usually in character) (or as the mother in The Wall to Pink).
  • Sakanaction's lyrics use quite frequently the words "ame" (rain) and "kaze" (wind), plus several references to the night.
  • Lana Del Rey really loves going downtown, red lipstick, red dress, being a beauty queen and vintage all-american references such as: James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Lolita and Coney Island.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Gary Gygax put a noticeable stamp on the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books. "Dweomer," "geas" and "weal" win for obscurity; "notwithstanding" for frequency. Also "former" and "latter." He also loved (i.e., used all the time) Latin abbreviations (e.g., e.g. and i.e.), even really academic ones, (e.g., Ibid. and Op. cit.) placed in ordinary text (Ibid.) The first edition Dungeon Master's Guide is full of these. Most memorable: referring a built-in ability to swim as "innate natatorial ability". The Prostitute Table in the City appendix has about a dozen different synonyms for prostitute (trollop, streetwalker, etc.)
    • When reading the "Fiend Folio", a monster handbook dealing with fiends you will stumble over the word emaciated many times. Maybe these fiends don't get enough to eat.
    • The retroclone ‘‘Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea'' (based directly on the edition above) also suffers heavily from this. It uses the same obscure abbreviations (q.v.), british spelling, the archaic Old English ligture ć even in places where it makes no sense, and the author apparently used search and replace to replace every instance of "between" with "betwixt". And it's especially jarring because the rest of the text is otherwise obvious modern American English.
  • FATAL has ample amounts of atypical alliterations applied in appellations of accidental alchemical aftereffects and articles.
  • The parody sets for Magic: The Gathering have cards that lampshade a few words they use a bit much.

    Theater 

    Video Games 
  • The developers of Warcraft / World of Warcraft really, REALLY like the word "azure".
    • Mists of Pandaria's writers seem to be really interested in using "nutriment" as often as possible.
  • Wild ARMs 3 was localized by long-time Final Fantasy translator Alexander O. Smith. How can you tell? He is pretty much the only game translator active today that uses the word "moreover" more than once per script.
  • The HD cutscene compilation of Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days refers to Saďx as an "adjutant", and renders Lexeaus's title, "The Silent Hero" as the "Taciturn Stalwart".

    Visual Novels 
  • Kinoko Nasu's works, whether it be on behalf of the translators or himself, will always feature "with murderous intent" as a description. And that's not mentioning the sex scenes and mollusks.
  • Kira-Kira and other OVERDRIVE games have characters that "smile bitterly". What exactly is a bitter smile? Who knows.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • The MSTing of The Eye of Argon lampshades it:
    Mike: Never say "posterior" again.
  • ACTUAL QUOTE TIME "I try to use at least one obscure word or neologism for every ten or so "fuck"'s. Keeps me intellectually honest." - Bryan Lambert, You Are Dumb
  • Wikipedia falls victim to it occasionally, too. See here, with the word "calcimine". This is common enough with some words that xkcd made fun of it.
  • On the Rooster Teeth Drunk Tank podcast, staff member (and former journalist) Geoff Lazer Ramsey consistently uses the word "penultimate" as though it were an intensified synonym for "ultimate". This is not only incorrect, given the meaning of "penultimate" (second-to-ultimate), but quite insane given the meaning of "ultimate" (no further intensity is either necessary or possible).
    • Geoff also seems to have not learned any adjectives other than "tremendous." Making a drinking game of it will destroy one's liver.
  • A comment on this Cracked article points out the site's liking for the word "baffling".
  • A video commentary of a Mega Man 3 run by The Megas ends up on this topic. Can be found a few seconds after the nine minute mark.
    • This is extra hilarious when it comes up again at the beginning of Part 6.
  • Diane Castle of the Whateley Universe trots out some new vocab in every Phase novel. Since when does a fourteen year old use the word 'propaedeutic' or 'fictile'?
    • Since said fourteen year old has an eidetic memory, the best schooling his billionaire parents could buy, a need to appear mature and intelligent among businessmen and politicians, and a personal preference for sounding smarter than those he's talking to. Note that Ms. Castle only uses words like that when writing from Phase's perspective, dropping back to a more normal vocabulary when writing as Aquerna or other more normal teenagers.
  • Sam Hughes, of Things Of Interest, seems very fond of the word "fractionally".

    Western Animation 


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