Words and phrases: General or specific words?

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When writing, express yourself as specifically as possible.

From Beginnings of Rhetoric and Composition, by Adams Hill:
A general word is a word of wide but indefinite application.
A specific word covers less ground, but is more definite.
Uses of General Words 
1. If there were no general words, the progress of mankind would be exceedingly slow; for general words serve to classify and sum up knowledge, and thus to store it, as it were, for future use. 
2. Without general words, it would often be difficult to put wit or wisdom into portable form. They are the life of many proverbs: e.g. “ Haste makes waste,“ “Pride goeth before destruction.“
3. Without general words, natural science would be a heap of detached observations, law a pile of unclassified cases, history a mere chronicle of events.
4. If we were unable to arrange books under general heads, — as “ History,“ “Travels,“ “Literature,“ — a library would be chaos.
5. General words are of service to a writer on scientific or philosophical topics who wishes the public to read his works. If such words did not exist, he would be obliged to employ technical terms — terms which, though familiar to specialists, would not be understood by the majority of his readers. By using general words, he may give the public an approximate idea of his views.
6. General expressions are sometimes more striking than specific ones. Thus, Tennyson says that Enid
daily fronted him [her husband] In some fresh splendor;
and he makes Guinevere call King Arthur “that passionateperfection“: in the poet's hands, the abstractions “splendor“ and “perfection“ become concrete; Enid wears “splendor “ as a dress, King Arthur is “perfection“ in the flesh. Steele terms an impudent fellow “my grave Impudence“; Byron calls a “budding miss“ “half Pertness and half Pout.“
7. Sometimes a general word is better than a specific one because, being vague, it leaves more to the imagination. Wordsworth, for example, wishing to say that the beauty of the morning is to the city what clothes are to a person writes:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning.
8. General words are sometimes used by writers who wish, for good reasons, to disarm opposition or to veil unpleasant. facts; but too frequently they are a resource for those who try to hide poverty of thought in pompous language, to give obscurity an air of cleverness or shallowness the dignity of an oracle, to cover the fact of having said nothing with the appearance of having said much.
Uses of Specific Words
1. A writer who aims to fix his reader's attention on a specific object will use a specific word. If he is writing about horses, he will not call them quadrupeds; if about a particular horse, he will name him, or will identify him in some other way. He will not term a piano an instrument, a spade an agricultural implement, or a gun a deadly tube. If he tells a story, he will not speak of his characters as Mr. A., Miss B.; he will invent individual names, and thus make his narrative lifelike.
2. Specific words are often effectively used by poets. For example: —
Hedge-crickets sing, and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. — Keats.
In these passages, the specific words are much more vivid and effective than general expressions would be.
3. Sometimes a specific expression is effectively joined with a general one, as in a sentence in Mr. Kipling's Jungle Book : —
The moon was sinking behind the hills, and the lines of trembling monkeys huddled together on the walls and battlements looked like ragged, shaky fringes of things.
“Ragged, shaky fringes“ is a specific expression; “of things“ is a general one.
4. As a rule, prefer specific to general words.

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