One Word: Tier

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“Tier” is my kind of word.

It’s short. It has a neat sound. It’s familiar without being overused.

Best of all, it’s useful.

One Word: Tier

Physically, a tier is one of a series of stacked rows or levels. Rungs of a ladder, for instance, or the third row of seats in a stadium. Figuratively, a tier is a grade or rank within a hierarchy. This can refer, among other things, to management layers or quality rankings.

This is a blog about “writing, publishing, and design”. I write about words because words are the raw material for writing. Beyond that, they are tools for thinking – and for sharing our thoughts.

But words aren’t the only writing-and-thinking tools we need. We need software to speed our process for cranking out words (and images). We need hardware to run the software, along with disk drives for storage, keyboards for input, and lots more. We need (let’s be honest) healthy snacks. Speaking of health – writing is work that builds on itself, so we need ways to prolong our careers for years and years.

All these tools fall within the purview of this blog, and I plan, given world enough and time, to tackle them all.

There are some amazing, relatively unknown, drastically under-utilized writing tools out there. Some I know and use. Others, I’ll surely learn about in the future. I’ll share what I know, when I know it.

But I wanted a zingy label for this toolkit fixation of mine.

“Best of the Best Tools”? “Best-of-Breed Tools”? “World Class Tools”? Naah. None of these had quite the right ring.

I considered “Five Star Tools”. Software apps, for example, like movies, typically are rated on a one-to-five scale, five being the best. That one I rejected as simply cliché.

How about “Seven Star Tools”? The implication being tools that are better than the best – tools that blow the top off the rating scale.

That thought quickly faded. Most readers would naturally assume I’m using a one-to-ten scale, so “seven star” sounds like merely so-so. I might as well title my series “Marginally Adequate Tools”!

Then I remembered “tier”, and it occurred to me that “top tier” should be part of the title.

“Top Tier Tools”? Almost, but not quite. The alliteration – three “t’s” in a row – seemed excessive, even kitschy. Hey, I love some good alliteration, but this seemed a bit too-too.

And anyway, it’s not just any old tools. It’s writing tools. I also love socket wrenches and pruning shears and my trusty Swiss Army knife. Maybe I’ll even write about those now and then. But these aren’t part of my intended series on tools for writers and writing.

For the moment, then, it’s “Top Tier Writing Tools”. The word “writing” narrows the meaning, making the phrase more descriptive. It also breaks the alliteration just enough to make it less annoying.

I even web-searched the expression to make sure it isn’t the name of a company or website or something else that might claim squatter’s rights.

My series on words that fascinate, engage, and infuriate will continue. They’re still my favorite tools. But let’s branch out – learning together – to talk about other top tier instruments for communicating and sharing.

(This article is part of my series on words that are #worth1000pictures.)

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