Oh, where was this splendid quotation when I was teaching vocabulary to my students every Monday for thirty years? Yet, even if I had typed it in bright red enormous font and put it up on the SmartBoard, the few who read it would have been mightily unmoved. "Big deal," they would have thought, "I'm not going to be a writer."
But holy crap, I love words. True, there are those words that I really dislike saying or hearing, as Jared and I discussed way back in September in this post. Words that bugged us include sketchy, succulent, squat, and pocketbook. If you recall, we sort of promised that we'd follow up with a Favourite Words post. TA DA! Without any further
List of Favourite Words: Jared
1. Duration. I love the way it sounds. I like the fact that simply saying those three syllables eliminates clunkiness like “length of time”, “time period”, “however long it lasts” and other such ridiculousness. I work in an industry where time periods (durations! See!?) are critical to us, our customers, and our financial well-being as a company. I recently said to a customer, “Assuming you don’t go over the weight restriction and do not exceed the duration that we previously agreed upon, you are done paying us.” This guy says to me--I shit you not--“Boy, I don’t understand a word of what you just said, but I won’t be curing anything.” OK then.
2. Blister. I like that as soon as you say it, the reaction is visceral. Everyone knows what it is, and everyone hates them more than anything in the world. Get a blister on your foot, you’re out for a week before you can regain your normal gait. Try saying it in a sentence like this, using it as a verb: “The Cavs just got BLISTERED by the Lakers last week.” See!? Now, say that same sentence and sorta let the “BL” sound flop out of your mouth behind a small forced breath. It almost pops and rolls out of your mouth with a sort of force that I find nice.
3. Flabbergasted. No word in the English language does a better job of fitting an emotion perfectly. It just makes me think of someone so confused that their only logical recourse is to weep while they shake their head from side to side, spit flying, spectacles becoming unwitting projectiles. Because at the point where one is in a state of Flabbergast, there can be no words spoken. One’s mouth does not make words when one is in this state, let alone a complete sentence. Plus, I like the way the word feels when I say it. Like, the way it forms in my mouth.
4. Scrotum. Hear me out. Think about some of the other awful and juvenile names for that part of the anatomy. Tell me scrotum isn’t better than all of them. You cannot tell me that unless you are a liar, because that is a lie. It still sounds a little bit crude so that if I want to insult my baby brother, I can say something like, oh, I don’t know, “Quit being such a scrotum and pick your team!” Even better? Shorten it. Shorten it to “scrot.” With a short O sound. Throw some talc down there; prevent scrot sweat. Tell a friend to “quit it or I’ll sock you in the scrot.” It’s very satisfying.
List of Favourite Words: Nance
1. Alacrity. This word gets a lot done. Even its pronunciation conveys its meaning. It has that flat little short A in the second syllable, followed by the hard C. Does it mean brisk AND cheerful AND efficient AND ready AND willing? Yep. All of that. It is the caffeinated assistant who is wired and chipper and anticipatory who also brought you in a cupcake AND your favorite kind of pens AND already did the whatevers BEFORE you even asked.
2. Horrid. Looking at the word is like seeing a shudder. It is wide eyes, crawling skin, cobwebs in your face, and all the creepiness anyone can imagine. It starts with that huffy H and ends with a sudden DUH. If you say it with the right emphasis, it can even sound like you're throwing up or retching. Try it. So good.
3. Vast. The irony of a little, monosyllabic word conveying enormity of space is not lost on me. When I see this word, I always imagine someone sweeping his/her arm wide over a horizon. The short A becomes automatically elongated by the sibilant S, which softens the T at the end. I like to use this word hyperbolically, almost exclusively.
4. Snark(y). This is a relatively new word, and one I jumped on immediately. It's another word that packs a ton of nuance. Rather than load up on adjectives and say, "Verdele was acting smug and gossipy and snotty and bitchy and arrogant and a little snitty," we can just say, "Verdele was snarky." Also wonderful is that it can be so flexible. Snark can be a verb (Don't snark at me; I was just asking!); it can be a noun (I didn't appreciate the level of snark in your voice, Mona.); it can be an adjective, as used above with Verdele; it can be an adverb (The waiter rather snarkily told us the specials.). Because of its origins as a tabloid word, it has an admittedly short existence.
Jared and I have a lot of favourite words, but these are a few which we use often and which came to mind immediately. Now, of course, we must know yours. What are some of your favourite words? Do share in Comments! (And if you want to read some more of Jared's (and my, and our shared) lists, you can always go to our now-hibernating blog Stuff On Our List. Click here.)
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