Take Ten

This creative writing exercise is from Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Neubauer



Take Ten for Writers • No. 95 Creative Writing Exercise

VocabuLeery

Leery Word Definitions of the Thesaurus Kind

By Bonnie Neubauer | Updated September 9, 2018


Look at the words below, numbered 1 though 10. Pick one that appeals to you and, even though you probably don’t know the definition, make up a definition for it. Write the number, the word, and the definition on the top of your paper.

  1. Bombycid
  2. Endemic
  3. Yardages
  4. Scalping
  5. Gulag
  6. Allonym
  7. Bolides
  8. Roux
  9. Echoless
  10. Peculiar

Use this word as you have defined it in the first half of your story, starting with:

Although I was a bit leery about what might be behind it, I went ahead and …

Now TAKE FIVE minutes (or half of your writing time or page count) and WRITE until you are at the middle of your allotted time or page count … and then STOP and return to this book. THEN …

Go to the VocabuLeery list below to find the same number you chose earlier. Beside it is the real definition to use in the second half of your writing. Use this definition word for word, exactly as it is written in italics (but don’t use the actual word).


VocabuLeery List

Find your number here. Beside it is the real definition to use in the second half of your writing. Use this definition word for word, exactly as it is written in italics (but don't use the actual word) to complete the second half of your story.


  1. Bombycid: pertaining to silk

  2. Endemic: of foreign origin

  3. Yardages: monks who wander from monastery to monastery

  4. Scalping: an ancient Greek trumpet

  5. Gulag: the empty part of a partially filled liquor container

  6. Allonym: ghostwritten

  7. Bolides: a shooting star

  8. Roux: semi-rotten

  9. Echoless: sickness resulting from overcrowded living conditions

  10. Peculiar: cup-shaped

Now TAKE FIVE minutes and WRITE to complete the second half of your story using the italicized definition (but not the actual word).

TAKE TEN Take-Away

When it comes to VocabuLeery, a thesaurus is a writer’s best friend. January 18 is Thesaurus Day, in honor of Peter Roget, author of Roget’s Thesaurus, born on said date in 1779.

Mark your calendar now so you can throw a party (bash, do, shindig, soiree, wing ding, festivity, affair, banquet, celebration, dinner, fete, gala, reception) for all your word-loving friends to party (revel, carouse, frolic, blow off steam, kick up one’s heels, let loose, live it up, raise Cain, paint the town red, whoop it up, make merry) the night away.

Next: Super Wordacious Writing Exercise

©2009 Bonnie Neubauer. All rights reserved.