I've written the following sentence:

He had wanted to write a letter to Jimmy, an old comrade of his, but when the boisterous clipper started, he decided to have a second breakfast instead whilst waiting for the workers to finish their task.

Someone mentioned that boisterous may not fit in here and proposed clamorous instead.

How do these words differ from each other, regarding their connotations and are there any more, even better suitable terms to use?


What about uproarious? Can this be used with nonsentient things?

  • 1
    you might go with something like: "... but when the horrendous clipper started, he decided ... whilst waiting for the workers to finish their noisy task."
    – Jim
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 6:59
  • 1
    What's wrong with noisy? Noisy is quite a romantic word too, no? Commented May 29, 2015 at 11:56
  • I would just say "noisy". Unless it's really loud, in which case it's "deafening".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 12:47

3 Answers 3


The easiest word to use here is "noisy" or "loud". Of course, you can use one of the other longer words too, just depends on your target audience. If the clipper is very loud, you can also use "deafening".

On a side note, I personally see nothing wrong with using "boisterous" either. Personalizing the clipper and giving it an identity is not unusual. Ships are given names, often the name of a lady. If the lady is boisterous, that gives life to the ship's identity. Poetic license is expected in literature. Unless you are writing a technical manual, don't be so sensitive to retentive critics. The masters often use words in unexpected ways to give their work a life of their own.

  • This one is great! I have no idea why I didn't come up with it. Thank you! Commented May 29, 2015 at 8:19
  • @Sprottenwels I am happy to be of service. Commented May 29, 2015 at 8:34
  • I think you are right, regarding your side note and sometimes it bothers me indeed. Unfortunately, I havent done much english writing yet and have to rely somewhat on my readers suggestions, for I don't know when something is just plain wrong. I'm very glad you told me about your perception of 'boisterous' here, as I found it when I was searching for a word that described something awfully loud. Commented May 29, 2015 at 8:41
  • That you can use human adjectives to describe non-sentient beings in narration does not mean you ought to. In this case, it does not seem to add anything plausible in descriptive or metaphorical value, and would probably strike most readers as simply poor usage. (also, does "clipper" actually refer to the type of ship here? I read it as referring to the tool)
    – Yang
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 9:06
  • Even the ship seemed sad and lonely. Her creaks and moans could be heard, as if mourning the loss of her crew. Commented May 29, 2015 at 13:10

Agree with Yang about both your words being sentient-agent only.

I think the word you want is "cacophonous". Greek for an 'orrible noise.

  • 1
    Thanks for the suggestion. I didn'nt know that term and looked it up. Unfortunately, it seems to emphasize dissonance rather than loudness. While this is not bad to describe the clipper, it is necessary to make sure the reader understands it's noisiness. Commented May 29, 2015 at 7:17

Boisterous and clamorous are generally used to describe sentient beings, especially groups of sentient beings. The former has connotations of roughness and aggression, and the latter specifically involves clamors, or shouts.

Rackety and the less common clangorous are both more fitting in this context.

  • Thank you for your thoughts and explanations. Doesn't rackety possess a connotation of joy? I've always thought so. Commented May 29, 2015 at 7:11
  • 1
    @Sprottenwels: If I were watching a movie, the "rackety" machine is the one that brings you joy to look at. In that sense, it does carry a connotation of joy. But in real life, rackety just means it's either shoddily built, or built without regard for noisiness. Doesn't carry the same connotation of joy if it wakes you up every morning.
    – Flater
    Commented May 29, 2015 at 8:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.