Ten Dollar Words for Copywriters

Ten dollar words can be copy killers, or they can make a piece work.  The trick is to know which ten dollar words are worth adding to which texts, and where to put them.  If you are not already well acquainted with ten dollar words, then let’s start with a primer.

What is a Ten Dollar Word?

A ten dollar word is essentially a long word that is used in the place of a much more common word or a shorter word that is more well-known.  Why would anyone want to use a ten dollar word you might ask?  That’s a great question, and the answer has a lot to do with appearing smarter than you actually are.  Let’s take lawyers for example.

I happen to be studying pre-law right now, and one fact that has been beaten into me so many times by so many professors and authors is the fact that big words can often win juries over.  This works even to the point where many famous lawyers actually invent new words in the courtroom just to sound impressive.  Johnnie Cochran Jr., famous for his role in the O.J. Simpson murder trial and other high-profile cases, was particularly famous for creating new and lengthy words from simple words.  These ten dollar words did not take away from the wonderful education of Mr. Cochran, but rather connected him to the jury members that were so important to his many pivotal victories.

When to Use Ten Dollar Words

Lawyers are not the only ones that get to use ten dollar words.  If you are writing copy to sell something or create conversions, then you are in a good position to use ten dollar words.  There are exceptions to this, and the main exception is when your audience is probably going to resent being talked down to.  Some people seem to have a naturally soft skin and very easily bruised ego, and thus it would not be advisable to use ten dollar words with these types of consumers unless you already have their attention.

10 Dollars

Getting attention first can often open up the door for a few ten dollar words, but make sure that they are used in a way like Johnny Cochran’s ten dollar words: the audience must understand them in order for them to be effective.  This means you can talk about exfoliates with those looking into beauty products, but try to avoid using anathema when discussing rifle scopes with hunters.  If the reader has to scratch their head and consider looking up a word, then your tempo has been broken.

Which Ten Dollar Words You Should Use

Here are a few of my favorite ten dollar words, and a little advice on when they should be used:

  • Admonish – Another word for scold, but it sure sounds like something a principal or CEO would say, doesn’t it?  Use admonish fairly often if you like, it is a well-known ten dollar word.
  • Facetious – Meaning not serious or in a playful bantering way, facetious is often misinterpreted as lacking in merit or being or baseless.  It is actually neither of these things, but it can overlap them under certain circumstances.  The phrase facetious remarks can be used to indicate remarks that are said more in a bantering/not-entirely honest sort of way, and thus can be used to deflect naysayers while still acknowledging their claims.
  • Incongruous – The word means something that does not fit properly or fit well.  It could also be used to suggest an incompatibility with something else, such as a ruler that makes laws incongruous with passion.  I suggest using it when trying to discretely suggest that something is out of place.  If you are discrete, then you want the widget-cell phone that can do more for you without appearing incongruous with your attire.
  • Predilection – Is used to indicate a tendency to show favor for something.  For example, a man with a predilection for tall blondes is likely to find short redheads to be less than attractive.  Use predilection when trying to highlight the superior selection skills of your readers, like this: If you have a predilection for fast cars that get the best gas mileage, then you need to try our MagicFuel additive today!

Never Send a Ten Dollar Word to do a Two Cent Word’s Job!

If you know your audience, you should have a good grasp on how they will react to ten dollar words.  If your audience is the type that just likes basic words, basic sentences, and a straightforward approach to telling them what they want, then do not rock the boat.  The question is: could you attract more people with a slightly different approach?  Are there more educated and/or sophisticated consumers that might also convert, but are being held back by a lack of ten dollar words?  If so, then your two cent words could be holding them back.  My advice is to consider setting up a second site or another page dedicated to trying two cent words versus ten dollar words.  Remember the marketing axiom: know your target audience and you will be halfway to success.

Your Ten Dollar Words

Which ten dollar words do you like using, and why?  Let us know in the comments section, and be sure to let us know when and how to use them if you have already developed some guidelines.  Share and share alike people!  We’ll certainly look at ten dollar words again in the near future, so stay tuned!

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Written by

Chad Weirick is a global traveler, ghostwriter, teacher, and father. His hobbies include reading, languages, mixed martial arts, photography, digital media, blogging, and spending time with his family.