A Few of My Favorite Words

I was stuck for a subject today, so I took one of WordPress’s prompts: Talk about your favorite words. Here are a few of mine.

Widdershins. It means “counterclockwise,” and it’s the way water goes down the drain in the Southern Hemisphere. I found it in a nonfiction book by Madeleine L’Engle, possibly Walking on Water. I love it for its sound, and for its going-against-the-flow-ness, and because it makes me think of Australia and New Zealand, where I hope to travel someday.

Sequacious. This one is courtesy of John Gardner, probably in On Moral Fiction. It means “intellectually subservient,” and it describes our whole culture so succinctly.

Mellifluous. Can’t you tell what it means just by the sound of it? If not, go look it up.

Brillig. (If you don’t know where that one comes from, stop reading this blog and go read Through the Looking Glass. Immediately.) I’m not sure exactly what Lewis Carroll meant by brillig, but to me it describes a cold, clear autumn day when the red and golden leaves crunch under your swishing feet and the naked twigs are etched in intricate patterns against the stark, pale afternoon sky. (Yes, all of that.)

Elúndina. Okay, I made that one up, but for a good reason–it’s part of the vocabulary of the world I invented for my current novel, The Dome-Singer of Falenda. Elundina are powerful spiritual beings that materialize out of light and look like bodiless butterflies.

How about you? What’s your favorite word?

This entry was posted in Writing.

14 comments on “A Few of My Favorite Words

  1. Hannah Jenny says:

    My favorite word is “discombobulated.”
    It sounds cool, it sounds like what it means, and it means something I often am.

  2. Anastasia K Bond says:

    I’ve loved “catawampus” ever since a favorite instructor used it all through the term. It’s a great word and always evokes memories of that time.

    In L.M. Montgomery’s “Jane of Lantern Hill” Jane and her father refer to Brillig as 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Perhaps Montgomery knew something lost to this generation?

  3. Adriane says:

    My favorite word has always been Love. It encompasses so much. Everything I want to be like. However, I do have another word to share… homopterous.

    When I was in junior high, we lived in the same town as my Granny. She had this huge, ancient dictionary that I liked to read. I stumbled across this word, and it was just the most perfect word. It means “of or pertaining to the Homoptera order of insects which are characterized by sucking mouthparts.” I knew no one else would know the meaning of this word, which made it even better. It sounded smart and described my feelings so well, I just couldn’t resist. I shared it with my best friend, and it became our “secret code word” for those icky boys that made kissy faces at us. LOL

  4. Lizaveta says:

    absquatulate—to leave quickly, to decamp, to scurry away quickly
    This one was introduced to my 9th grade English class by one of my classmates, and I’ve always kept it logged away.
    randall—a poem that Irish schoolchildren recite to apologize for making rude noises
    This was from Balderdash—where else?
    hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia—for those of you who are unenlightened and are thinking what it ought to be—it really does mean fear of long words.
    Mom, this is mostly for the benefit of your readers, I’m pretty sure I’ve told you about these before.

    • Lizaveta says:

      Oh, and
      Honorificabilitudinitatibus—according to wiki, this is “the dative and ablative plural of the mediæval Latin word honorificabilitudinitas, which can be translated as ‘the state of being able to achieve honours.'”
      I saw it on the board in the drama room one day—I suspect they were using it to improve their diction. Or simply because it was cool.
      There are lots of other words that are more aesthetically pleasing than the ones I’ve offered, but I can’t call any to mind right now. However, since you said sequacious, I must needs mention obsequious—a much more common word that means Mr. Collins (in other words, greasy, self-abasing, sniveling, servile, fawning). Since I always used to get the two mixed up. There are certain similarities, but . . .
      And I’ll just mention my faorite word to bring up in Mad-Libs, archipelago, which is of course a set of islands nearby each other. I don’t necessarily think it makes particularly good mad-libs, I just like to say it.

  5. Charise says:

    I mentioned in a post of mine that alliteration is a favorite. I think it stuck with me because I was delighted to learn terms for special things words could do when put together. It was like we were learning how the magic tricks were done. My favorites change as my vocabulary grows. One perennial favorite is from “Endangered Words” collected by Simon Hertnon: Velleity which is to have a desire or wish but no accompanying effort towards action; to give a “little damn” Like most Americans and voting and me and dieting!

  6. Adriane says:

    Have you seen the Save the Words project online? You adopt a word that is at risk of becoming obsolete. Mine was “hymnicide.” 🙂 http://www.savethewords.org/

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