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What is diction?

Diction refers to word choice—choosing the right word for the right situation, which can set the scene or evoke a particular mood in writing. Diction can tell you something about a writer’s attitude towards a subject (or even their readers), their background and interests, where they grew up, or how they see themselves. It can make a piece of writing simple and pleasing to read—or difficult and boring.  

Determining the “right” word for a given situation involves understanding its denotation, or dictionary definition, and its connotation, or the subtler meanings a word can pick up in certain contexts. Authors also have to consider what they want the text to achieve, and what readers will want.