Is my following understanding accurate?

As nouns, spark connotes a small flash of light, whereas sparkle connotes a series of flashes of light, shining brightly.

1,The performance lacked sparkle. This means the performance lacked the quality of being lively and original.

2,The performance lacked spark. This means the performance lacked the quality of energy, intelligence or enthusiasm.

3,The writer lacked creative spark. This means the writer didn’t have even a small amount of creativity.

4,The writer lacked creative sparkle. This means the writer didn’t have a large amount of creativity.

My new analysis:

Spark is the more common and natural word choice in the above two cases, because (a)spark is more often used metaphorically and conveys a clearer meaning there, whereas sparkle is more often used literally (b)spark is a more common word, giving readers a feeling of familiarity

1 Answer 1


I agree with your analysis of 1 and 2.

For 3 and 4, I would say that the creative spark is the thing a writer has that is the opposite of writer's block, i.e. "creative spark" is the idea within the writer they are trying to get out on paper, or perhaps could be used to describe a writer who has no problem coming up with new ideas. Creative sparkle would be the extra quality of "flair" or "zest" that could liven up a narrative just as you describe for your sentence 1.

  • Hi, thanks for clarification. It helps a lot. Can you evaluate "My new analysis" that I just added to the question?
    – joy2020
    Mar 18, 2021 at 1:16
  • @joy2020, I agree that "spark" is more often used as a metaphor and "sparkle" more often as a simile (or perhaps *stand-in*—we don't say that a performance literally sparkled but we talk about it as if it did). I wouldn't agree that readers are more familiar with one over the other; both are commonly used.
    – randomhead
    Mar 18, 2021 at 2:22

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