What’s your Favorite Word?

Dictionary

My favorite word in the English language is facetious.

I like it for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, it can often be accurately used to describe me.  Second, it uses all five vowels in alphabetical order, so it’s got random trivia value.  Third, because it was a word that taught me how to use the dictionary.

Remember when you were a kid, and people said you could use the dictionary to learn how to spell words that you didn’t know how to spell?  When I was about seven or eight that was the most mind-bendy concept ever. How can you look up words in the dictionary if you didn’t know how to spell them already?

Kids today, with their autocorrect and spell check and Google “did you mean”, and that whole dictionary.com thing…. they barely know what the huge heavy thin-papered books are that are full of words except as reused paper in Etsy necklaces.

When I was about eight, my mom told me not to be so facetious.

Being a drinker of words, I asked “What does that mean?”

Mom said “Look it up.”

I grabbed her black college dictionary off the shelf next to North American Wildlife – these were the shelves of key reference materials in my childhood.  I looked at it and then back at my mom. “How do you spell it?”

“Figure it out. Where should you start?”

I flipped it open to Fs, and skimmed the Fas- selections.  “What other letters could sound like S?” mom asked me. So then I looked at the Fac- section.  I know that this is a mundane, silly memory.  I know that we all had that a-ha moment when we learned we could reverse-engineer sounding out new words to be able to look them up in the dictionary.  Even if we didn’t know how to spell them!

This moment – however mundane – is firmly cemented in my mind. I remember it clearly, I remember reading the definition of facetious and giggling, even though I knew it meant my mom thought I was joking when I should be a little more serious.  I remember finding the word on the page. This was a heady draught for an eight-year-old word-drinker.  I never forgot it.

What are your favorite words? Do you have any words you dislike?  

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14 thoughts on “What’s your Favorite Word?

  1. One of my favorite words (in conversation, not in writing) is “interesting.” It’s such a flexible word.

    “That was an interesting dinner.”
    “That was an interesting meeting.”
    “That was an interesting fart.”
    “That was an interesting disaster.”
    “I’ve had an interesting day.”

  2. My favorite word is “shit.”

    No, I’m not saying that to me a smart ass.

    I’m an etymology hobbyist. I like looking up the origins of words and discovering how they’ve been used and evolved over the centuries. I took a linguistics class in college. One of our assignments was to research and write a paper on the etymology of any three words of our choice.

    I chose “fuck, shit, and bitch.” The first line of the paper was “I chose fuck, shit, and bitch because this will be the only time I can ever use those three words repeatedly in a college paper without getting in trouble for it.”

    (I got an A.)

    Shit is a great word because it’s so versatile. It can be a noun and shit. It can be a shitty adjective. It can shittily be used as an adverb. And I shit you not, it can be a verb.

    And if it offends people, I don’t give a shit 😉

    • This is a comical response, but you really can’t beat fuck and shit in terms of how they sound – the right percussion and tempo – and their versatility.

  3. One of my favorite words is “plethora” b/c I like the way it sounds. Very interesting about the word “facetious” – never thought about the fact that it includes all the vowels in alpha order- very cool.

  4. Yours is much harder than mine. I still struggle with the doubling of letters, such as in the word aardvark. I spelled it every way, and with every letter doubled, but never thought to double the “a.”

  5. I really liked this passage in Lover at Last by J. R. Ward. I like the analogies and the feelings it evokes…talk about the power of one small word.

    In the context of the English language, there were many more important words than “in.” There were fancy words, historic words, words that meant life or death. There were multi-syllabic tongue-twisters that required a sort out before speaking, and mission-critical pivotals that started wars or ended wars…and even poetic nonsensicals that were like a symphony as they left the lips.

    Generally speaking, “in” did not play with the big boys. In fact, it barely had much of a definition at all, and, in the course of its working life, was usually nothing but a bridge, a conduit for the heavy lifters in any given sentence.

    There was, however, one context in which that humble little two-letter, one-syllable jobbie was a BFD.

    Love.

    The difference between some “loving” somebody versus being “in love” was a curb to the Grand Canyon. The head of a pin to the entire Midwest. An exhale to a hurricane.

  6. Pingback: Grammer Nazi Humor | Trebor Fairwell

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