Words I Like

Miss Bates hates the word “exquisite.” I don’t have strong opinions about exquisite. It’s a fragile word and thus problematic to assign to a person (though I’ll admit I did use it in Brave in Heart; the hero applies it to a longed-for reunion).

Our associations with language are idiosyncratic, the result of reading, personality, accent, and conversation. Here’s mine.

This is a list of words I like:

  • Besotted
  • Compose
  • Epiphany
  • Huzzah
  • Melee
  • Omphalos
  • Palimpsest
  • Poise
  • Shenanigans
  • Staunch

And this is a list of words I hate:

  • Cloture
  • Externalities
  • Hurl (and its adjectives)
  • Loin
  • Mucous
  • Phlegm
  • Twee
  • Scamper
  • Skitter

8 thoughts on “Words I Like

  1. Miss Bates thinks it’s the “qui” in exquisite she doesn’t like. Hard-sounding. It’s true about words; maybe it’s atavistic (a word Miss B. loves) … some echo of primal sounds that we respond to, or not.

    I do so love “besotted” and “shenanigans.” “Omphalos” … um, not so much.

    1. I love omphalos for a very specific reason: an essay by Seamus Heaney. There’s a shorter version of the story here:

      “In an essay called “Mossbawn,” about the little farm where he and his brothers slept all in a row and head to toe (he is the eldest of nine siblings), he takes the Greek word omphalos, the stone that marked the centre of the world, and repeats it, ‘omphalos, omphalos, omphalos, until its blunt and falling music becomes the music of somebody pumping water at the pump outside our back door.'”

      I like the idea of a word as the stopper at the center of the universe. The piece that keeps it all from unraveling. The…omphalos. ; )

      1. It’s lovely the way Heaney uses it. And the “omphalos” of ancient Greek origin MissB appreciates. As a demotic Greek speaker though, omphalos just conjures bellybuttons of various ilks by the Aegean!

  2. That makes sense. I’m a boring monoglot. While I’ve studied Spanish, French, Latin, and Italian at various points, I don’t “know” any of them. I just picked up bits of vocabulary and grammar. ; )

    1. I’m trilingual … and one of my greatest pleasures is in speaking all three of my languages, at the same time, with a friend who shares them. It is great: to have exactly what you want to say in the sound that you prefer, if that makes any sense.

  3. I’m surprisingly OK with many of the words you hate. And I feel like I use skitter a lot.

    Poise and staunch are great. The very sounds of the words suggest their meaning with those.

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