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The 50 Worst Synonyms in Fifty Shades of Grey

This post was originally published in 2012. We are rerunning it now for obvious reasons.

Remember grade school, when you wrote papers and used big words because you thought that meant you were smart? And now when you look back on those papers, you cringe a little? Well, not E.L. James! The Fifty Shades of Grey author loves her a fancy synonym. And since you probably missed most of her obvious Thesaurus.com moments by skipping to the sex parts, Vulture compiled a list of them for you. Note: In some cases, James's word choices may have to do with the fact that she's British. But her protagonist, Anastasia — and Ana's insufferable subconscious and inner goddess — are not. So we're calling the author out for them anyway, and even offering up some simple edits, all of which show that, sometimes, less is more. Unless you're Christian Grey.

1-2.

The offense: "To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library. Not sitting twitching nervously in a colossal glass-and-stone edifice."

The fix: "To be honest, I prefer my own company, reading a classic British novel, curled up in a chair in the campus library. Not sitting twitching nervously in a giant glass-and-stone building."

3.

The offense: “I squirm; he’s made me feel like an errant child.”

The fix: “I squirm; he’s made me feel like a disobedient child.”

4.

The offense: “I haven’t made any plans, Mr. Grey. I just need to get through my final exams. Which I should be studying for right now, rather than sitting in your palatial, swanky, sterile office, feeling uncomfortable under your penetrating gaze.”

The fix: Cut palatial…it means the same thing as swanky.

5.

The offense: “The richest, most elusive, most enigmatic bachelor in Washington State gave you his cell phone number?”

The fix: The richest, most elusive, most mysterious bachelor in Washington State gave you his cell phone number?”

6.

The offense: “ 'Ray? He’s … taciturn.' ”

The fix: “ 'Ray? He’s … a quiet guy.' ”

7.

The offense: "I refrain from rolling my eyes at him."

The fix: "I stop myself from rolling my eyes at him."

8.

The offense: “Okay … so his grey eyes are still haunting my dreams, and I know it will take an eternity to expunge the feel of his arms around me and his wonderful fragrance from my brain.”

The fix: “Okay … so his grey eyes are still haunting my dreams, and I know it will take an eternity to forget/shake the feel of his arms around me and his wonderful fragrance from my brain.”

9.

The offense: " 'Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women sentient and receptive,' he says dryly."

The fix: " 'Anastasia, you were comatose. Necrophilia is not my thing. I like my women awake and able to feel what I’m doing,' he says dryly."

10.

The offense: "One minute he rebuffs me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books, then he tracks me like a stalker."

The fix: "One minute he rejects me, the next he sends me fourteen-thousand-dollar books, then he tracks me like a stalker."

11.

The offense: "I brusquely towel-dry my hair and try desperately to bring it under control."

The fix: "I rush to towel-dry my hair and try desperately to bring it under control."

12-13.

The offense: "He puts down his cutlery and regards me intently, his eyes burning with some unfathomable emotion."

The fix: "He puts down his fork/knife/spoon and looks at me intently, is eyes burning with some unfathomable emotion."

14.

The offense: “I wanted to run my fingers through his decadent, untidy hair, but I’d been unable to move my hands.”

The fix: Cut. This makes no sense.

15.

The offense: “If I could only lean forward, my nose would be in his hair. He smells clean, fresh, heavenly, but I’m fastened securely in my seat and effectively immobile.”

The fix: “If I could only lean forward, my nose would be in his hair. He smells clean, fresh, heavenly, but I’m fastened securely in my seat and can’t move.”

16-17.

The offense: “He sits down beside me and buckles himself into his seat, then begins a protracted procedure of checking gauges and flipping switches and buttons from the mind-boggling array of dials and lights and switches in front of me.”

The fix: “He sits down beside me and buckles himself into his seat, then begins a dragged-out process of checking gauges and flipping switches and buttons from the mind-boggling array of dials and lights and switches in front of me.”

18.

The offense: “ 'Christian, what you fail to understand is that I wouldn’t talk about us to anyone anyway. Even Kate. So it’s immaterial whether I sign an agreement or not.' ”

The fix: “ 'Christian, what you fail to understand is that I wouldn’t talk about us to anyone anyway. Even Kate. So it doesn’t matter whether I sign an agreement or not.' ”

19.

The offense: “My subconscious has reared her somnambulant head. Where was she when I needed her?”

The fix: Cut; it’s implied.

20-21.

The offense: “He’s facing me, and I have an unprecedented opportunity to study him.”

The fix. “He’s facing me, and I have a chance to study him for the first time.

22.

The offense: “Climbing out of the bath, I take his proffered hand.”

The fix: Cut; it’s implied.

23.

The offense: “This time he doesn’t stop at my knee, he continues up the inside of my thigh, pushing my thighs apart as he does. And I know what he’s going to do, and part of me wants to push him off because I’m mortified and embarrassed.”

The fix: Pick one. These mean the same thing.

24.

The offense: “I sit on my bed and gingerly extract the manila envelope from my bag, turning it over and over in my hands.”

The fix: “I sit on my bed and slip the manila envelope from my bag, turning it over and over in my hands.”

25-26.

The offense: “For the first time in my life, I voluntarily go for a run … I need to expend some of this excess, enervating energy.”

The fix: “For the first time in my life, I voluntarily go for a run … I need to work off some of this excess, [CUT enervating; it's enervating] energy.”

27-28.

The offense: “Shaking my head and endeavoring to quell my nerves, I decide on the plum-colored sheath dress for this evening.”

The fix: “Shaking my head and trying to calm my nerves, I decide on the plum-colored sheath dress for this evening.”

29.

The offense: “He looks askance at my Beetle, but I ignore him.”

The fix: “He looks disapprovingly at my Beetle, but I ignore him.”

30.

The offense: “And that’s not the future he envisages.”

The fix: “And that’s not the future he imagines.”

31-32.

The offense: “Ray pulls his car into the campus parking lot, and we follow the stream of humanity dotted with ubiquitous black and red gowns heading toward the gym.”

The fix: “Ray pulls his car into the campus parking lot, and we follow the stream of people dotted with matching black and red gowns heading toward the gym.”

33.

The offense: “The ceremony takes another hour to conclude. It’s interminable.”

The fix: “The ceremony takes another hour to conclude. It’s never-ending.”

34.

The offense: “Christian! I stare up at him, imploring him to refuse.”

The fix: “Christian! I stare up at him begging him to refuse.”

35.

The offense: “ ‘Anastasia,’ he cajoles. ‘I am sorry. Believe me. I don’t mean to laugh.’”

The fix: Let’s just go with says.

36.

The offense: “ ‘I wish you were here,’ I whisper, because I have an urge to hold him. Soothe him. Even though he won’t let me. I want his proximity.”

The fix: “ ‘I wish you were here,’ I whisper, because I have an urge to hold him. Soothe him. Even though he won’t let me. I want him close to me.”

37.

The offense: “My subconscious nods sagely, a you’ve-finally-worked-it-out-stupid look on her face.”

The fix: Stop personifying your subconscious.

38.

The offense: “…I wonder for a brief moment what it must be like to grow up with both one’s parents in situ.”

The fix: “…I wonder for a brief moment what it must be like to grow up with both one’s parents at home.”

39.

The offense: “He raises a censorious eyebrow at me.”

The fix: “He raises a disapproving eyebrow at me.”

40.

The offense: “My heart is in my mouth as I reread his epistle and I huddle in the spare bed practically hugging my Mac.”

The fix: “My heart is in my mouth as I reread his e-mail and I huddle in the spare bed practically hugging my Mac.”

41-42.

The offense: “I gaze at my mom. Her earlier jubilation has metamorphosed into concern.”

The fix: “I gaze at my mom. Her earlier excitement has turned into concern.”

43.

The offense: “Holy shit … something’s amiss — the strain in his jaw, the anxiety around his eyes.”

The fix: “Holy shit … something’s wrong — the strain in his jaw, the anxiety around his eyes.”

44-46.

The offense: “I sit on the barstool, momentarily stupefied, trying to assimilate this morsel of information.”

The fix: “I sit on the barstool, momentarily speechless, trying to absorb this piece of information.”

47.

The offense: “He hits me again, and the pain pulses and echoes along the line of the belt. Holy shit … that smarts.”

The fix: “He hits me again, and the pain pulses and echoes along the line of the belt. Holy shit … that hurts.

48.

The offense: “…scalding tears spill down my cheeks.”

The fix: “…hot tears spill down my cheeks.”

49. 

The offense: “I just want to curl up. Curl up and recuperate in some way.”

The fix: “I just want to curl up. Curl up and feel better.”

50.

The offense: “Tears course unbidden and unwelcome down my cheeks…”

The fix: Pick one. And stop crying over this loser.