Monday, July 18, 2011

words, words, words

I've been surprised in my life to discover that not everyone thinks about words in the same ways that I do.  Whenever I mention liking or not liking the sounds of certain words, I'm often met with blank stares or occasionally surprise that I have opinions about words.  But it seems obvious to me that all words are not created equal.  There are tons of words I enjoy for their meaning or connotation, words that I admire because they do their jobs as words.  That's not what I'm talking about.  Usually when I say I love or hate a word, it's based solely on how that word sounds when spoken aloud (or occasionally how it looks written).  These are the thoughts I have.

A brief list of words I don't love:
  • moist (say it out loud . . . you're disgusted too, right?)
  • yummy (anyone over the age of two who uses this word should be severely punished)
  • hubby (it's not even a word but try telling my facebook friends that)
  • pulsate (useful on a blender but no fun to hear or say)
  • guitar (I'll admit that when I was a kid, I had a very hard time pronouncing guitar, and I guess I'm still holding a grudge against it--and sometimes I have to concentrate very much to say it correctly even now.)
Some words I love to hear:
  • staunchly
  • acclimate
  • rotund
  • brusque
  • paranoia
Neither of these lists are meant to be exhaustive.  Just a taste.  What about you imaginary readers?  Do you have opinions about words?


  1. Words I love:
    Loquacious & Prolix - They make being an annoying bag of blather sound refined. It becomes even nicer when set alongside their synonym garrulous, a word whose definition should be changed to, "An especially noisy case of indigestion" since that's what it sounds like.

    mellifluous - What a beautiful way to say that someone has a nice voice.

    Grim - I love that it sounds like gray and gremlin and other things that I associate with it. It's also a fine word for describing facial expressions and personalities.

    Words I don't like so much:

    anodyne - It sounds like it ought to be a harsh cleaning or disinfecting agent, but it actually means inoffensive. The hypocrisy is unbearable.

    Comptroller - It's like it wants to say controller, but doesn't quite have the guts to just come out and say it.

  2. My favorites are "cheque" and "enclosed"

  3. befuddled. was perfect at work when people asked my opinion and I knew they really did not want an answer.

  4. Hi Ellen,

    Love this post. I need to get out a little notebook and write down my favorite/ least favorite words.

    My kids have invented a few words that I think are quite fabulous:

    Younger son (then 3) was convinced that a "Merry-go-round" was a "miracle-round". Older son (then 5) set him straight ("No, dummy, it is a music-go-round").

    Younger son has combined the superfluous "lotion" and "mosturizer" to come up with the succinct "lotionizer".

    As for me, my new obsession is the word "palaver" (to chatter on and on); also, I am very fond of several "b" words, like "bewilder" and "beguile". "Reticent" has a nice sound to it as well.

    Cannot sign off without a shout out to my favorite Italian word: "stracciatella", loosely translated as chocolate-chip flavor, as in ice cream/ gelato. It is pronounced stra-cha-tell-ah, and I think we Americans need to adopt this word. Like, now.


  5. ack! thought of another one: older son thought for a long time that "automatically" was "automagically". The Husband and I still use this new word.

  6. I can only think of two words I've learned to hate over the years.

    1. Behoove. I had a teacher that always told us it would "behoove" us to study this and that. I hated that word.

    2. Facetious. I hate that word so much that I'm not even going to bother looking it up to see if I spelled it correctly. I had a coworker who use that word whenever there was a joke or comment she didn't understand. "Oh I were being facetious." With her mouth pinched up and nose slighlty elevated.

    Other than those two words, I'm pretty cool with words. I love the made up words like "lotionizer" mentioned by MOV. We call that "fambly" speak. Words used in our family that we understand. Of course, I can't think of a single one of them now...

    I'm not anonymous, but my google account won't let me sign in. I'm Cindy otherwise!

  7. Do I have an opinion about words? Does a hundred-pound sack of flour make a big biscuit? I love the melodious sound of "melodious." Don't care for the sound of "stein," so I guess it's just as well I don't drink beer. Sure there are hundreds of others, but I have miles of blog reading to catch up on before I sleep.


what do you think?