Putting in a good word for good words

April 27, 2011

Most of us have favorite words, and it is a very personal choice. We enjoy the images they evoke and the sound that they make.

I remember hearing that someone’s favorite word was marmalade. Damn, that is one fine word. It brings to mind color, taste, aroma and sweet childhood summers.

Language is important in my blog, and I have tags for word play, puns, even mondegreens.

My own favorite word may be haberdasher. Most of us learn that word when we are taught that Harry Truman started out as one. Then we never use it again.

That’s a shame. I’ve been trying to bring the word back. I have used it nine times in my blog, never in connection with Truman. It is an uphill battle.

Some of our language’s best words are used to describe the worst people. Scalawags, knaves, rapscallions, miscreants. Oddly enough, we still have those people, we just call them less colorful names now.

Similarly, there are some wonderful words reserved for loose women. Trollop, strumpet, harlot, hussy, floozy.

I’ve used floozy 13 times in my blog, but I didn’t experience the spike in readership I expected.

I guess guys surfing for easy chicks are calling them something else these days. They are not saying, “Hey Lamar, let’s go Google ourselves some vamps and jezebels!”

Another great word is huzzah, which I’ve used a number of times here. Just once before I die, I want to be in a crowd of people shouting “Huzzah!”

And I want us to be cheering the opening of a new haberdashery. Is that too much to ask?

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Top: Afghan women wearing traditional burqa robes line a haberdasher stall in a Kabul marketplace in a 2002 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Hollander

Right: Jessica Simpson performs “Lady Marmalade” in Las Vegas, in a 2004 file photo. REUTERS/Ethan Miller

Right: The original Paddington Bear which starred in dozens of BBC television programmes sits on a stack of marmalade sandwiches in London in a 1997 file photo. REUTERS/Dennis Owen

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56 comments

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I once played on a basketball team with the nickname/mascot “The Farlingarii.” You would have to consult a law dictionary to find the definition. (Those who consult a law dictionary to find the definition do so at their own risk.)

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

I have to say one of my favorite words is Platypus. Living in suburban MD I don’t get to drop that in to many conversations without looking like an idiot. “Awww, is that a platypus?” “No. It’s a schnauzer.” “Oh.”

Posted by hmcfabulous | Report as abusive

Yeah hmc, I know how that goes, I used to live in suburban MD. Of course, I didn’t get to use schnauzer much, either. It was always like, “Is that your golden retriever in the Volvo?”

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

@hmcfabulous, you could get a schnauzer and name it Platypus thus solidifying the title of Most Awesome Person Living In Suburban MD!

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. I can only think of one for Ms. Simpson though. *drool*

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

Good words? The synonyms for torture are ‘karaoke,’ and ‘haiku.’ Now, there’s some good words!

Sorry, Spinni! My thoughts are my thoughts, though! Have a nice day!

Posted by uncarastus | Report as abusive

Anytime I read about loving words, I always think back to the song, “Crimson and Clover”, which is basically nothing more then an ode to the original singer’s favorite two words.

And heh, I live in COlumbia, MD, which is the essence of Suburban MD!

==RED

Posted by REDruin | Report as abusive

Why don’t you just tase yourself and save Shra the trouble, Red. And now she even knows where you live.

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

Ah, @Red, so sorry to hear that. *backing swiftly away before you get zapped*

Leapin’ lizards @Spin, only one euphemism for those here on the OEBN – mugs. Maybe with an adjective like “nice” as a modifier. :-)

Posted by Dave_not_dave | Report as abusive

I didn’t get this one. :(

Posted by fwd079 | Report as abusive

Egad and Cheese Louise, Spin! I like those quaint non-cuss words too. Here’s a legitimate word: callipygian. It describes Jennifer Lopez from the back.
(Love this post, Mr B.)

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive

Oops, thanks for catching that, Spin. I’ve corrected it.

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

For some reason, I’ve always liked the word “wonky.”

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

I happen to be fond of callaphon and opprobrium. Or is it caliphon? I can’t seem to find the correct spelling.

Posted by skeres | Report as abusive

“Colophon,” Skeres? That’s an interesting word, if you look up its etymology.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

My favorite word is “Hermatile”. Useful in so many daily situations, both at work and at home, such as “Do your homework or I’m gonna go completely hermatile on you!”. Plus it just sounds cool.

Posted by AllThatJazz | Report as abusive

@ladylala: I like callipygian as is applies to J-Lo, too!

Posted by AllThatJazz | Report as abusive

All this talk puts me to mind of a story about Gandhi. It is said that he walked everywhere he went, and was barefoot, Thus he developed prodigious callous on his feet. Also, his many hunger strikes, fasting and his general diet left him both somewhat fragile, and also having stomach and breath problems. But above all he was a very spiritual man. You could say he was a “super callused fragile mystic vexed with halitosis” (with apologies to Mary Poppins)

Posted by inebgreen | Report as abusive

“Poppycock” is a great word,as is the Brit slang, “tosh.” In Simpson’s case, I’d say she’s “boobular.”

Posted by slick9 | Report as abusive

@Spin: hahahaha good one :D :D

yup, Middleton it is then :D

Posted by fwd079 | Report as abusive

@slick: You say boobular, I say titular. Let’s call the whole thing off.

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive

My sister’s favorite word? Incognito. :-)

Posted by justCAM | Report as abusive

Hey, BG! Take the ‘g’ off of the first word of your title and it would be about one kewl leader dude! ;-)

Posted by justCAM | Report as abusive

“It brings to mind color, taste, aroma and sweet childhood summers.”

My family had three farms when I was growing up. On the home place, we had orchards and livestock. In the apple orchard, we grew Timothy. My Dad would cut the Timothy for hay, but the baler wouldn’t work among the trees. Since I was the youngest, my Dad would send me out with a wagon and a pitchfork to gather the hay. I hated this.

I remember one particular morning. I think I was about 10. It must have been in June. It was sunny and warm, but there was a cool breeze. I took a break in the shadow of a huge Catalpa tree, which still stands. I could smell the Timothy hay, hear the doves cooing, and hear the trickle of the brook.

This is one of my favorite childhood memories. I cannot hear a dove coo without thinking of that moment.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

Spin – You forgot my personal most despised Your instead of You’re.

Posted by inebgreen | Report as abusive

My new favorite: Quotidian. I ran across it and had to look it up, which doesn’t happen too often. One of my Dad’s favorite/least favorite word was Phlegm. I will never forget – we were out to dinner at the o-club (army brat) and he told us that. We laughed until the snot ran. Appropriate.

Posted by NWHiker | Report as abusive

If you want to be surrounded by huzzahs, might I suggest hanging around with steampunk enthusiasts? Sure, being seen with weirdoes in restrictive clothing and an excess of brass gimcracks isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but at least there are huzzahs.

Posted by Wyvie | Report as abusive

And my favourite word is floccinaucinihilipilification, due to its many redundancies, which I will not share for fear of being zapped.

Posted by Wyvie | Report as abusive

You’re gonna’ need your best hide and go seek skills to avoid the zap from Shra’s taser when you bust out your best mondegreen with this beauty, “You could say he was a “super callused fragile mystic vexed with halitosis” (with apologies to Mary Poppins).” Unless it’s leveraged its remaining battery capacity in previous tazings!

Posted by Jibberish | Report as abusive

Goobledegook, flibbertigibbet are my favourite words…

Now all of you, who learnt, tried to learn, taught, or tried to teach, come forward for your zap like good kids…
You know who you are….

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

Hmm, my favourite words seem to come in pairs like:
Paid Vacation
Long Weekend
Free Beer
Cooked Bacon
Doughnut Sprinkles

Posted by Nosmo_King | Report as abusive

“butterfly” (It’s like “flutter by.”)

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

“Butterfly”: a beautiful word in every language: papillon, mariposa, farfalla, Vlinder, Schmetterling…. Uh, “butterfly,” a beautiful word in most languages.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

@Nosmo … Doughnut Sprinkles! :-)

Posted by justCAM | Report as abusive

From Moonshine, the editor…
…thanks to all. This is so refreshing – and dare I say, literate? Has anyone seen the Facebook app that tracks your favorite words? With the appalling level of literacy in the world today, most of the tallies I’ve seen consist of words with four letters.

Posted by Moonshine | Report as abusive

What a sweet comment, Moonshine. Thank you.

Yes, I thought this worked pretty well. I’m pretty sure I have the only Reuters blog whose readers comment in haiku.

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

Actual words I have used during meetings in the past 12 months:
Bescumber
Bespawl
Jobbernowl

Usually in relation to the latest genius idea the boss has come up with.

Posted by Nosmo_King | Report as abusive

@Nosmo, could you please give an example of Jobbernowl in a sentance? I just want to make sure I get the proper context for when I try it out on my boss. :)

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

@Ifly – OK here goes. “Given that I am merely a pedant, and have yet to attain Jobbernowl status, I had difficulty following the thinking in your proposed project plan”.

That’s a direct quote from me.

Posted by Nosmo_King | Report as abusive

I missed two important ones off my list of favourite words:
Single Malt
Fri Day

Posted by Nosmo_King | Report as abusive

Yes, Oddly Enough
readers: literate, witty,
use haiku quite well.

Posted by Moonshine | Report as abusive

@wyvie: I BEG you to reveal the meaning of floccinaucinihilipilification. I know it will hurt, but I’m up for it. At least a hint–does it have anything to do with wildly picking at bedclothes whilst in a fever?

Posted by ladylala | Report as abusive

@Nosmo, oh so Jobbernowl is a proper noun? Thanks for the quote, I will let you know the reaction when I give Jobbernowl a go here and we can compare notes. :)

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

Don’t be a Kvetch. Join the OE Blog!

Posted by inebgreen | Report as abusive

Back to great English words – Onomatopoeia, hippopotamus, and hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia

Oy, I’m all verklempt

Posted by inebgreen | Report as abusive

Words are what I try my best to make the most use of, after air. Acquiesce and defenestrate are two of my favourites. Ooh, and triskaidekaphobia.

I used to work in a food factory where our quality control manager referred to the risk of getting caught up in a machine conveyor as “belt-fed body part ingress”. My current boss, whilst demonstrating something to a volunteer recently, used the phrase “just flumf it into the doofer”.

Both these people have been fantastic to work for, and I certainly wouldn’t dream of declaring them to be valueless, for example…

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive

@jclimacus, hey listen if learning a new word that will envoke the expressions on my cow-irkers faces I hope it does then it’s worth it. :p

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

My favourite word IS favourite, as it contains all the vowels. Know of any other such word?

Posted by Malteser | Report as abusive

Hold on, Malt. Favourite may contain all the vowels for you, but not for me….

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

Well I like to colour my vocabularly with more vowels, or should I say color? :P

Posted by Malteser | Report as abusive

I meant, vocabulary of course. Darn typo..

Posted by Malteser | Report as abusive

redivider: longest single-word palindrome

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

Spin, have you read “La Disparition,” a lipogrammatic novel by Georges Perec? The English translation, “A Void,” by Gilbert Adair, has a palindrome in excess of 5000 words. Take a look at Adair’s photograph on the dust jacket. He looks like he has been repeatedly struck by lightning!

It’s a thumping good read, but not for the faint of heart.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

Spin divides, not once,
But twice, counting on lovely
fingers — redivider.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

Malt, in Wales we have extra vowels; w and y.

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive

Hmm, that’s a good question Spin. I shall check my Welsh grammar book and get back to you; zapping be damned!

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive

Holy moley! Seven vowels?
Yikes, I have more than enough trouble with just five, plus all those consonants.
Any link between this and the Welsh predilection for Pork and Leeks?

Posted by Nosmo_King | Report as abusive

[...] The Words: This is a blog for lovers of our language. I have tried my best to revive neglected words such as [...]

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