Saturday, September 08, 2007

Words and Wordmen

I vaguely heard some talk about favourite words on the radio earlier - it's a subject that keeps coming back. In one recent poll the popular favourite was Serendipity - good news(if too late) for Horace Walpole, who invented it. I love the title page of this site. There's a wordman if ever I saw one. Scanning the As, I see Asphodel's not taken - one of my favourites, tho I've never had occasion to use it. Someone once said that, if it wasn't for what it meant, Paraffin would be the most beautiful word in English. James Joyce, it seems, preferred Cuspidor. It's true, isn't it, that there are some words that do make you feel good - they just seem so right and solid and euphonious and that embody perfectly what they mean. A lot of practical, rather than pretty, words have this quality, I think. At which point my mind goes blank...


  1. I seem to recall Denis Potter's favourite word was 'elbow'.

  2. Not a bad choice, that...

    When it comes to least favourite words, high on anyone's list, surely, is Blog. Was there ever an uglier, more woefully inadequate word? Is this cybersymposium a Blog??? Ugh... Is there no alternative?

  3. Staphylococcus. Crazy name, crazy bug.

  4. Is 'blog' a word?
    Whatever, it's getting many adaptations, such as 'blogosphere.'
    I even said recently that I'm trying to save some of my posts from 'blogivion.'
    Yes, it's horrible.

  5. 'blog': from 'web log' -- so, it's a portmanteau word, which is a rather nice word . . .

  6. journal is better than log, but b'journal sounds too like b'jesus.

    b-jo sounds like a sexual service.

    I've had a job with statistical and digital. stumbling words, I call them. It's not just me, I've heard professional speakers trip over them.

    the child in me likes onomatopoeic words - flip-flop - and words similar to onomatopoeia (it probably has its own word) but visual rather than sound. Elbow is such a word.

  7. I like the word "cerulean," probably because I like what it stands for. In Stoppard's "India Ink" (I think that's the play), the female protagonist's favorite word is "apricot." That one doesn't do it for me, p'raps 'cause I don't like apricots much.

    Now, here's a funny one for you: Non-speakers of English were read a list of words and they were asked to pick the one they thought sounded the most beautiful. They picked "diarrhea."

  8. I ran across a good one this morning: crostitution - what a politician who changes parties (crosses the floor) is actually engaged in.

  9. i played Elbow, one of Shakespeare's idiot constables, in Measure for Measure, and for a while would refer to myself either as Satan or Elbow, depending on my mood. It's a good name.

    i like the word 'plinth', and can recommend getting women to say it, while you stare at their lips.