Thursday, October 11, 2007

Varied Voluble Vociferous Verbosities

So yesterday, as I drifted off to sleep at my laptop, I promised to write about my favorite words. I think I vowed to keep my list to ten.

Sorry, no can do.

I dreamed words all night. (By the way, since this post is about words, is it "dreamed" or dreamt"? Mr. Spellchecker insists that it's not "dreamt," but "dreamed" sounds wrong. Which brings up the "dived/dove" dilemma...) No twisted plots, no poignant (oooh, good word!) themes, no fascinating and romantic (or clandestine... there's a good word!) love stories. Just words.

So, in no particular order, here are just a few of my favorite words:

OINTMENT. Poignant is OK, but ointment is better. It almost borders on onomatopoeia (another good word), doesn't it? I mean, really -- applying ointment is so much more fascinating than applying (yawn) lotion, mostly because it's ointment and it goes on exactly like it sounds like it should. It's somewhat gooey (ooh -- good word!), somewhat slimey, and really goopey. Right? Come to think about it, all words associated with ointment are good words!

EMBOUCHURE. When I played flute way back in junior high school, we joked about this word all the time. "Your embouchure is showing!" "She has the best embouchure in the whole school!" It actually refers to the adjustment of the player's mouth to the instrument's mouthpiece (one's embouchure could change the pitch of the resulting note) , but we just thought it sounded cool -- and of course, a little nasty.

CHORTLE. I tend to do this and my family always makes fun of me for it. It's another word that sounds like what it describes (onomatopoeia). A chortle is "a snorting, joyful laugh or chuckle" -- with "snorting" being the operative word. Actually, I think chortle can be used as both a noun ("what an obnoxious chortle!") and a verb ("boy, can you chortle!"), so that makes it doubly-cool.

BEHOOVE: It just sounds so high-falootin (OK, fine -- hifalutin... which is pompous; bombastic; haughty; pretentious). And it's a great parenting word! Throws kids off every time, making things seem ominous (heeeey!) enough to instill just a bit of trepidation (oooh, another good word!): "It would behoove you to tell the truth, buster..."

PLETHORA: I don't know why I like it; I just do. I think it's the way it rolls off the tongue, with the "th" so unabashedly (ooooh, another!) articulated. I especially like it to describe a Petri dish full of little creatures: A plethora of omoeba. Run for the hills!

EXTEMPORANEOUS: I just think it's funny that a word meaning spur-of-the-moment, imprompu, improvised could be so complicated and arduous (good word!) to say and spell.

PHLEGM and SMEGMA: These have to go together to have their full effect. What is it about the letters "gm" that just kinda makes you go, "Ewwwww, groooossssss!"?

ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM: Didn't we all learn this word in about 4th grade as the longest word in the English language? (Hey, by the way, what IS the longest word in the German language anyway? IS there one? Can't you just putting words together and deleting spaces forever?!) In my Berkeley-is-the-center-of-the-universe upbringing, I assumed that it was a Berkeley-spawned political word. I was wrong; even kids in Kansas city knew and loved the word!

QUAGMIRE: Any word describing confusion that begins with "QUA" has to be a great word!

CADDYWHOMPUS and JOLLIFICATION: This ARE a real word, aren't they? Caddywhompus means skewed, crooked, oddly-positioned and jollification means merry-making. I just love the way they sound like what they mean. Kinda like "ointment."

(And I did keep my list to around ten after all because I have to get ready for an interview -- which, by the way, I AM really excited about. The more I read the job description, the more it sounds like something I'd like -- bringing new products to online library communities. I've already had phone interviews, so I'm already immersed in the process somewhat. I just hope they don't now tell me that I'm not qualified because I don't have library experience...)

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Goofball said...

wow, what a long list of things I don't understand :D

lnorvig said...

hmm, plethora, smegma, and antidisestablishmentarianism are some of my favorites, too! I always thought it was cattywumpus, though. Maybe that's a variant.

Carol said...

Laura, you're right! (What a librarian!) Correction made...



The Giant said...

I love this meme. As an English major and word freak, I really wanted to continue this on my blog but alas, time constraints. Maybe I still will someday. You move so fast and post so frequently that I leave for a weekend, come back, and I can't keep up.
Don't worry - it's a good thing :)

Carol said...

Well, remember that I'm both unemployed and an insatiable writer! Once I find a job, things should quiet down. :-(


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