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The Superlative: Don’t Resort to Them As an Excuse 

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

An online devotional for writers

A Word From The Word

They spread this bad report about the land … “All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants..” (Numbers 13:32-33, NLT

A Word For Writers

The Superlative: a #devotional for #writers based on Numbers 13:32-33 with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter #WritingTips #FreelanceWriting

A superlative is an exaggerated expression. It’s huge, amazing, phenomenal, outstanding, awesome – or any other term that overstates and inflates.

When used excessively, a superlative is clickbait, designed to sensationalize and get attention rather than offer a substantive comparison to other high-quality items.

But when a superlative is used truthfully, it makes a point. We see this in scripture. Bible superlatives place a person or object in comparison to another in an honest way. 

  • Nimrod was the greatest hunter in the world (Genesis 10:9) – when compared to other hunters.
  • Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth (1 Kings 10:23) – when compared to other earthly kings.
  • Moses was the most humble person on earth (Numbers 12:3) – when compared to other people who walked on earth.

When the twelve spies were sent by Moses returned from their reconnaissance mission to Israel, their first report was a good one. The people were large, the cities were fortified, but the land was fruitful. 

But then, when Caleb proposed an invasion, the twelve launched into superlatives: the Canaanite people were stronger … huge … giants.

Their superlatives were an excuse. It’s one that kept Israel from the Promised Land for forty years. 

In writing, superlatives are an excuse. They are a lazy writer’s way out. Facts, proof, an example, or a better word are much more effective. 

A Wise Word

Superlatives are a lazy writer’s way out.

A Word To Pray

Gracious Father,

I want to write truthfully. Show me how to use descriptive language rather than exaggerate. Let me be diligent as I choose my words.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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