Friday, June 08, 2007


If you enjoy words, check the link added at the side called “Beauties.” It’s a site that asks people for their favorite words, which the folks there are going to compile as a book. What’s interesting about it is people give the reasons they like their chosen word. You can send your word in, too. James Joyce's favorite, they say, was cuspidor, which indeed is nice to my ear. It means spitoon, by the way (another wonderful-sounding word, actually).

I’ve also been thinking more about words people hate. I found a person who hates cake. My sympathies there. I also don’t particularly like cake. And it does sound like it was designed to make you choke. I also don’t like wedge, probably due to association. Still, don’t wedge shoes sound unattractive? And don’t ever offer me a wedge of cake.

Another word that came up was weepy, as in weepy sore. Ugh. That wouldn’t usually occur to me, but here it’s the idea and not the word that disturbs.

And moist comes up over and over. I found another one close to moist in both sense and sound: ointment! I have to laugh when I hear it. People really dislike words suggesting anything slightly wet, and the /oi/ diphthong appears to heighten their distaste.

As for me, I like both moist and ointment, and that diphthong has never offended me. I’m neutral on lubricant, but dislike lube like the devil. Jiffy lube makes me laugh and scream at the same time.

After I graduated from college I lived for a brief spell in Philadelphia near my sister. She worked in a bar/restaurant in the art museum neighbourhood, and the bartender had a crush on me. He was a nice guy, and a painter, but also an alcoholic (non-practising), and 20 years older than me. In any case, I remember telling my sister’s boyfriend about how I always got free drinks at the bar and him saying, “Oh, Mitch is only trying to lube you up.” And that was the end of that.


LKD said...

Pretty, prude, prissy, prick.

All of those words raise my hackles.

Can't say why. Maybe I have an aversion to that "pr".

Dirigible, dowager, curmudgeon and palimpsest are all words that I love, love, love.

I can't articulate why. Perhaps because one rarely or never hears them in casual converation.

And vainglorious. I damned love that word. Because it sounds like what it means.

And pompous. My mother is always calling this or that person in the news (like, oh say, Oprah or Martha or Trump or pick a name) a pompous ass.

I love that combination of words:

Pompous ass.

SarahJane said...

I like all those. "Prick" I like the least, but because of the meaning, not the sound.
The words you love are wonderful. "Dowager" reminds me of a dog, probably because it sounds like "jowls," a funny word.
"Vainglorious" even looks beautiful.
"Pompous ass" is a classic combination. Applied accurately, it is a wonderful form of revenge.
thanks. you should send one of your words to that site i mentioned.

sara kearns said...

Hey Sarah,

I've missed your blog -- I've just been so busy with Siren (for like six months, ouch), but anyway, I finally posted something on my blog for the first time since January, and the first blog I checked out -- yours. And Lauren's will be second. I gave both of you mentions for the best blogs in the third issue of Siren's "best of 2006"-type list.

By the way, "ouch" -- 'love that word. Like both of you I like dowager, ever since I read it on Anne Sexton's "The Break," and I say "curmudgeon" a lot -- great word. And yes, "pompous ass" is wonderful -- and somehow, in an unconventional sense, it sounds like what it means. I hate the word cauliflower, almost as much as I hate the thing itself. I love the words honeysuckle, swim, water, and anthropomorphize, among others. There are some words I hate so much I can't say -- and some names that I've always thought I could never be involved with someone with that name because I would cringe if I heard it -- which I feel terrible about. Like "Victor." 'Have no idea why, but I hope no one with that name reads this, because I'd feel so badly.

This discussion reminds me of the questionnaire used at the end of the tv show "The Actors' Studio." It's a questionnaire that is borrowed from a great French interviewer, whose name escapes me at the moment. Do you know the questions I'm referring to? Great: favorite word, least favorite, favorite sound, least favorite, if there's a heaven, what would you like to hear God say when you get there, etc... Maybe I'll try to get the whole thing and send it around.

And, oh, (did I already tell you this?) I saw some of your work a few months in, mmm, I think it was "Whiskey Island," (was that the one?) and like it a lot. Bravo.

Ahhh. Another one of my favorite words.

Oh! and Sarah -- you and I -- we have a great name, don't you think?

michi said...

"ointment" makes me laugh, too, and it's because it reminds me of "oink". as in the noise pigs supposedly make. :)

i think i mentioned this before, but i *can't stand* the word "snog". it just does not sound like something you'd want to do.

other words i don't like: "rigorous". "camphor". "slovenly". "satchel", ugh. (satchel goes so well with nigel, and we all know what i think of that name ... *g*)

okay. somebody stop me. :)

SarahJane said...

oh no, michi, please keep going. smile
"oinkment" has to be one of the funniest inventions I've heard of. it could be pig fat, after all.
I love camphor, and satchel is fun. In fact, it's also a name. Woody Allen and Mia Farrow named their son Satchel. You could have a comedy team "Satchel and Nigel!" You'd love that.

SarahJane said...

ok, sara, now you have to tell us the words you can't say. you may replace a letter or two with asterisks if that makes it less painful.

I'm not so sensitve about names, I don't think. Only some asian names that end up sounding jokingly erotic.

michi said...

i knew that about woody allen and mia farrow's child, sarah. poor kid. but then again, "paris" meant something like "bag", because he was found in one ...

"satchel" still sounds like toothless gums to me. :-p

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