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I am trying to find a one-word synonym for the phrase, "They threw themselves into [an activity]", or "they launched ambitiously into..," or "They zealously began to...". The actual phrase that I am trying to complete is,

"The boys immediately ______ to construct an arsenal of snowballs."

The word "began" would work, but it's a weak word. I want something more passionate; more earnest. A word that suggests that the boys dove wholeheartedly into this effort. Any suggestions? (Or perhaps a way to reword the sentence altogether?)

"Endeavored", maybe, but this is for a kid's book, and I'm not sure how accessible that word would be.


UPDATE: Wow, I never expected such a flurry of fantastic suggestions. You all are a veritable snowstorm of thesaurania. I find myself now in the position of overthinking this phrase even more than I was before -- writer's freeze, as it were. But that's the life of an author, eh? Thank you all for your input.

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    good question. hmm, I've been looking through a reverse dictionary and thesaurus and I can't find a suitable substitute for these illustrative phrasal verbs that you've outlined. I think they may be your best bet, but let's wait for some other people who potentially know better than me – user180089 Jul 23 '16 at 4:22
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    "The boys launched into constructing an arsenal of snowballs." Same number of verbs and prepositions as your original sentence. – GoldenGremlin Jul 23 '16 at 4:24
  • Some words that have similar meaning except they don't quite have the connotation of immediately jumping into something: engage, embark – user180089 Jul 23 '16 at 4:24
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    What's wrong with "hastened"? Don – rhetorician Jul 23 '16 at 4:46
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    Honestly, I think the best, most idiomatic, most evocative, and most child-friendly version is the very first one you give in the question itself: “The boys immediately threw themselves into constructing an arsenal of snowballs.” Unless there's an enforced cap on the number of words/characters per sentence, I don't think a single word can improve on that. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 23 '16 at 11:20

12 Answers 12

3

"The boys immediately jumped to construct an arsenal of snowballs."

[2.5] (Of a person) make a sudden, impulsive rush to do something:
Gordon jumped to my defence

Reference:
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/jump

3

Given that changing the structure of the sentence is an option, how about something like:

With a flurry (or in a flurry of excitement), the boys began to construct an arsenal of snowballs.

Flurry means:

a sudden short period of commotion or excitement.

It is especially nice in your context, which involves snowballs, since it puns on a second meaning of flurry:

a small swirling mass of something, especially snow..., moved by sudden gusts of wind.

Given this playful pun, it seems well-suited to a children's story.

  • great suggestion; however, I'm already using "flurry" in the next sentence to describe the attack that ensued immediately after this stockpile escalation. – kmote Jul 25 '16 at 14:27
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"the boys immediately hurried to construct an arsenal of snowballs"

HurryODO

verb 1.3 Do or finish (something) quickly or too quickly
"formalities were hurried over"
"Another factor pushed them to hurry the project: the need to get their ducks in a row before they ran out of time."

2

This isn't exactly what you asked for. I would probably dump the word "immediately" and say something like:

The boys began eagerly to construct an arsenal of snowballs.

The word "eagerly" contains the idea of immediacy, as do some of the other words that have been suggested, and so the word "immediately" becomes redundant and weakens the sentence.

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    Hello @deeplyblue, please try to actually answer the question. Furthermore please substantiate your answer with resources. Have a look atteh Help Center to find out about what is considered a good answer. – Helmar Jul 23 '16 at 12:07
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You perhaps want this:

"The boys immediately rushed to construct an arsenal of snowballs."

From MW dictionary:

rush: to move or do something very quickly or in a way that shows you are in a hurry

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"The boys immediately and fervently constructed an arsenal of snowballs."

1

My first response, having spent many hours making snowballs, was plunge myself into the activity as I did most of this kneeling behind the protective cover of the walls of our snow fort.

The odour of wet corduroy pants also comes to mind.

"The boys immediately plunged into constructing an arsenal of snowballs."

1

Earnest

The boys immediately started to construct an arsenal of snowballs in earnest

or

The boys earnestly started to construct an arsenal of snowballs

Definition:

adjective 1. serious in intention, purpose, or effort; sincerely zealous: an earnest worker. 2. showing depth and sincerity of feeling: earnest words; an earnest entreaty. 4. seriously important; demanding or receiving serious attention. noun 5. full seriousness, as of intention or purpose: to speak in earnest.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/earnest

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Allow me to be rather innovative here My 3 answers.

"The boys immediately jumpstarted to construct an arsenal of snowballs." OR "The boys immediately leapt to construct an arsenal of snowballs." OR "The boys immediately sprang to construct an arsenal of snowballs."

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chomping at the bit.

Explained on Wikipedia

[T]he term has become popular in everyday speech to refer to a person who is anxious to get started or to do something. Because some impatient horses, when held back, would also occasionally rear, a related phrase, "raring to go," is also derived from observations of equine behavior.

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"The boys fell to constructing an arsenal of snowballs". This "fell to . . " construction is used to suggest alacrity - enthusiasm and immediacy and a concrete objective. You'll find plenty of instances of "fell to building (something)".

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How about a phrase like

The boys instantly throw themselves into building an arsenal of snowballs.


INSTANTLY

  1. Immediately, at once
  2. Urgent

THROW

  • throw oneself into
  • to engage in with energy, enthusiasm

Source: www.dictionary.com

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