… we turn to the blog of the OED.
If you don’t know what the OED is… well… look it up.
The lexicographers were asked about their favourite words. Some of them are humdingers… which is itself a good candidate for a favourite word.
To advance the protreptic character of many of my posts, here is a mere sampling:
‘Well, I currently like quagmire, because of my favourite Family Guy character; also whopper, the name of a fondly-remembered family cat (RIP).’
‘A favourite word of mine is geoduck, because the pronunciation is at such variance with the spelling and consequently demonstrates the basic flaw in syllabification (the division of spellings into syllables).’
‘When asked I say discombobulate, but it’s not necessarily true.’
‘Inflammable is the first word I remember asking “why” about as a child: why does it mean the same as flammable, when you’d expect it to mean the opposite?’
‘As a non-English speaker, I find awesome an awesome word. I don’t have in my mother tongue a direct translation – impresonante is the closest translation, but it is not exactly the same.’
‘Bollocks is a word with a glorious ring to it, which can be incredibly comforting to use in stressful situations; it also has a wonderful versatility: able to mean anything from the very best (“the dog’s bollocks”) to the very worst (“complete, total and utter bollocks”). Given its somewhat risqué literal meaning, it carries with it a cheekily subversive charm: able to shock, but not too much (usually!).’
‘I don’t have a favourite, of course, but I usually come up with something when asked, as it seems poor form not to do so. The one I usually go for is sooterkin – mainly because of sense 2a of the word as given in the OED, which is fantastically ridiculous. I especially like the fact that, according to the etymology, there is no similar term in Dutch. We apparently felt the need to come up with a word for this.’
‘My favourite word in English is numpty, [good one!] because it somehow conveys exactly what it is. I first heard it when I moved up to Scotland over twenty years ago; now it seems to be fairly widespread in English English, too. In French, my favourite is frimousse, which has no real equivalent in English, but means something like “sweet wee face”.’
‘I’ve had terrible trouble trying to decide what my favourite word is this week. In the end, I’ve gone for stravaig. I like the sound of it and the idea it captures of wandering around without purpose but with enjoyment. ’
Fun word words! And, yes, maybe I am a psilological doryphore after all. Or would it be psilosophical? Or even psilosophistical?
Shakespeare put it well, if wordily… “Words, words, words”.