June 11, 2013
murky (adjective)
\MER-kee\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : very dark or gloomy2 : foggy, misty3 : difficult to understand
How do you use it?
"The tunnel was damp and murky, and all around him there was the curious bittersweet smell of fresh peach. The floor was soggy under his knees, the walls were wet and sticky, and peach juice was dripping from the ceiling." (Roald Dahl, _James and the Giant Peach_)
Are you a word wiz?

Author Roald Dahl chose the word "murky" in the sentence above, but "murky" has some synonyms that could have communicated basically the same meaning. Which of the following do you think is one of these?

The tunnel in _James and the Giant Peach_ could certainly have been described as "dim." Both "murky" and "dim" describe things that are dark and therefore hard to see. "Murky" is also used to mean "foggy," and it sometimes suggests the feeling of fogginess even in its "dark" meaning. "Dim" is used especially to suggest a darkness that makes it hard to see the edges or outlines of things. "Dusky" is another synonym, but since it suggests the approaching darkness of night it wouldn't have worked as well to describe the tunnel in the book.
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