Diction is word choice, or the style of speaking that a writer, speaker, or character uses. The diction that you use when you speak or write should be matched to purpose or audience.
In formal writing-essays, speeches-diction should be formal. Words used should be used correctly, so that the writer or speaker sounds intelligent. However, if you are speaking with your friends, diction can be more casual-you may use informal words and even slang. In a work of fiction, the diction of the characters often tells us a lot about the characters. We can tell if they are intelligent, educated, or even what part of the world or country they are from.
Hey, what's up, man? Lookin' cool in those shades you're wearin'!
The patient has experienced acute trauma to the right femur, and must have surgery stat.
Aren't you a cute little fella? I bet your mommy is in love with you-that's right. I see that smile!
Examples of Various Styles of Diction from Literature
From Huckleberry Finn--Huck:
"I hain't got no money... It's a lie. Judge Thatcher's got it. You git it. I want it... I hain't got no money, I tell you. You ask Judge Thatcher; he'll tell you the same."
From To Kill a Mockingbird-Jem Finch, a child:
"You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't."
Also from To Kill a Mockingbird-Atticus Finch, a lawyer:
"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
Literary Terms Examples