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Each piece I write uses the word "discuss" (or something like it) about 1000 times. I'll say: "This 10 April 2015 CNN piece discusses X/Y/Z." It's just inevitable that I'll use some verb like that about 1000 times each piece.

I've noticed that English seems to lack a word that's flexible in the sense of being agnostic about depth and about how much time has been spent. Words like "discuss" and "address" and even "look at" all seem to mean that an in-depth analysis happened; this puts me in the headache-inducing position of having to wonder if the CNN piece in question (or whatever it is) had enough depth, substance, detail...enough words dedicated to X and to Y and to Z...that I can use the verb. The verb "touch on" specifies that there was little depth, but I don't like that word and I don't want to be specific; I want an agnostic word that would be used for lots of depth or a small amount of depth. Also, I'm not even sure if "touches on" would be appropriate for some short article; does the article merely "touch on" X and Y and Z?

The big disappointment is "discuss"; that was my go-to verb but dictionaries seem to insist to me that this word is only useable if it's something heavy-duty and serious.

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Hi, Andrew—How does "speaks of" or "talks about" suit you? It seems to me that they are pretty agnostic" as to depth, as illustrated by the fact that we can add either "a little" or "a lot" to each of them.

  • X talks about Y. / X speaks of Y. (agnostic)
  • X talks a little about Y. / X speaks a little of Y. (shallow)
  • X talks a lot about Y. / X speaks a lot of Y. (in depth)
Last edited by David, Moderator

Thanks so much! That's a really smart idea! I will implement that!

Do you find it odd that "discuss" can't be flexible in this regard? I had always assumed very confidently that it was "agnostic" till I looked it up in multiple dictionaries and it seemed to be not what I thought it was. That's a disappointment; it's a great word.

Do you know any other flexible ones?

Last edited by Andrew Van Wagner

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