Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Words I Have Strong Feelings About

Words I Hate

1. Escarpment. I hate this word so much I can't even talk about it.

2. Doorjamb. Its cousin, the door post, makes sense. Doorjamb sounds like an unhappy kitchen experiment or a terrible accident. And it just looks weird.

3. Infarction. You hear that one on House a lot. They love infarctions. It always throws me for a loop when they say it seriously, because it sounds like the kind of word that would make a fifth-grade boy giggle and make noises with his armpits.

4. Maintenance. I can never spell it right. Ever. Without spell check. In fact, editing this, I realized I didn't spell it right then either.

5. Orientated. Not a word.

6. Disorientated. Also not a word.

7. Nonplussed. I have yet to meet someone who has 1) pronounced this correctly with 2) the correct meaning. A lot of authors get it wrong too. It means "baffled," but most people think it means "unfazed." I nominate to have it removed from the dictionary for the time being.

8. Blog. Yes, I write one, but it sounds like the name of the Ogre in the Dell. Or something.

9. Scurf. Sounds like it should be a combination between a skirt and a scarf, and what I'm visualizing isn't going to sweep fashion week anytime soon.

10. Scudding. It's like a gerund that has something to do with a missile. But doesn't. And it's always clouds scudding; I guess the action of scudding is limited to clouds. Mystery.

11. Cul-de-Sac. Note to city planners of yore: Were there no other terms available for little circular neighborhoods? No? Really??? Did you check???? You couldn't find one without the awkward plural of "Culs-de-Sac?" No????? Try harder.

12. LOL. Or its cousin, lol. True, not a word, but that's news to some people. And it doesn't look like laughter. It looks like...I don't know. Letter vomit. Hard to say. Again, not laughter.

Words I Love
1. Assuage
2. Indicative (I love it. It's like carbonation on the tongue)
3. Amalgam

4. Lieu, as in "in lieu of"
5. Felicity
6. Poignant
7. Foreseeable. Not only is it a great word, but it looks like the vowels are going to stretch out forever.
8. Lilt. No such thing as an unhappy lilt - it's just happy all around.
9. Happy. Happy gets a bad rap, especially in Christian circles. I think we feel guilty over happiness, since we know that joy is more permanent. But you know what? Happiness happens. It's on of those rare words that makes you feel exactly what it means.
10. Indeterminate. See 2.
11. Lithe. Seeing pattern. I like single-syllable "l" words.
12. Blithely. I really do like it best as an adverb.
13. Triumvirate. I'm not sure that I'll ever learn to say it right, but everyone needs a goal.
14. Twirly.
15. Chocolate. It sounds as wonderful as it is. It's even a good Snow Patrol song.
16. Inexplicable. See 2, again.
17. Foliage. I really do like this word.
18. Fetching. As in pretty or attractive, not the action of chasing after something. Although one can lead to the other, doesn't it? It's an old-fashioned word, but it's fun to say.
I'm probably leaving some out, and that's after working on this post for literally just under a year. What about you? What words are you a little obsessive over?


  1. Ah, yes, a fellow word-lover.

    I love all those same words you do! Especially "poignant." I'll use it whenever i can. And I loathe the word "blog," too, even though I write one as well. However, I think "nonplussed" it a fantastic word, even if most people get it wrong. It sounds perfect for what it (actually) means. And I have no problems with "escarpment." It's elegant-sounding.

    One word that I hate, which is not on your list, is "hermeneutic." It's very popular in universities but I swear it doesn't actually mean anything. I've heard that word thrown around for six years and I still have no clue what it means. Pretty sure academics just made it up to sound impressive.

  2. It's possible - I get hermeneutic mixed up with hermetic. To the amusement of my family.

    You should write your own list! Start off with the word negligee :-)

  3. According to dictionary, hermeneutic is 'interpretive; explanitory'....that works with what I know of 'hermeneutics', interpreting the Bible...I believe it's what they call classes at Prairie Bible College that teach you how to give sermons. If I remember correctly.

    I also don't like escarpment. Feels like they switched the c and the r.

    Not crazy about poignant. Don't know why. Maybe it's my rocky history with spelling...

    I have alsways liked 'fantastic'. It is what it says.

    I like old-fashioned words like fetching, as well. And 'swell' (adj), though you'd be hard pressed to use it today...and I like lousy.

    I like 'matriculate'... and though I can't imagine ever actually using it, I like the way 'valetudinarian' feels. And it brings back memories of Avonlae. Same with 'chrysanthemum' and Anne. :)

    Don't like 'poise' much....find 'pretty' if used incautiously to be vile. Vile is a cool word, though.

    Love loathe, loathesome, loathing, loathed, etc. :)

  4. Even though it sounds like something you might say if you were trying not to throw up, I'm fond of the word "flummoxed."

  5. I've also been thinking about the word "winsome" lately. That goes on the happy words list.

    Rachel - what's funny to me about "fantastic" is that it used to have a much more negative connotation. Rather than "amazing in a great way, it was "unbelievable in a 'you've got to be high' kind of way." I like the modern version much better!


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