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Win the 20-Volume Oxford English Dictionary!

Update: The deadline has passed! Our OED contest is officially closed.

Update #2: What's taking so long? When will you pick a winner? Oy. Unfortunately, our first "winner" did not respond to four separate notifications. According to the official contest rules (see rule #3), therefore, we must pick another winner. We'll notify that contestant today (January 23rd) and post the winning entry as soon as we get a response. Check your email!

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With nearly 2.5 million quotations, more than a half-million illustrated words, and 22,000 pages of definitions — from writers as disparate as Charles Darwin and John le CarreThe Oxford English Dictionary is a work like no other. The Washington Post once observed, "No one who reads or writes seriously can be without the OED." (Alas, I've been found out. A serious writer I am not.)

But now we want to hear from you.

What's your favorite word? And why?What's your favorite word? And why? What, in your opinion, is the strangest, or most useful, or ridiculously specific word in all of the English language?

Don't be shy — tell us the word you can't stop obsessing over, the one you make sure to use at least once in every party conversation, the word that gets stuck in your head like the song lyric you can't quite place but can't stop humming.

Share your word with the world by adding a comment to this post — and you'll be entered to win a FREE OED, shipped straight to your door!

Through January 5, the 20-volume set is on sale at Powell's at its lowest price ever, $895. But "free" sounds even better, yes?

Submit your word and supporting argument by January 5, 2009Submit your word and supporting argument by January 5, 2009. We'll choose the entry we like the best in the days that follow.

(For official contest rules, click here.)

Please note: you must include the why with the word. It doesn't have to be long, we don't need an essay, just a brief explanation as to why this word is your choice.

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Dave interviews authors for Powell's. He created our Out of the Book film series. He likes cats and dogs.

Books mentioned in this post

Dave is the author of Out of the Book, Volume 3: State by State

1,307 Responses to "Win the 20-Volume Oxford English Dictionary!"

    Ryan G. November 24th, 2008 at 2:22 pm


    guernico November 24th, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    gossamer. there's something light and lilting about this word, but in a serious, weighty way. even though it's simply a contraction of two middle english words, there's almost an ethereal connotation behind this word. when you write it down, like 'the sun cut through the gossamer clouds', or 'a gossamer cloth', you get the satisfaction of having creating a whole world of concepts in one brief statement. sort of playing god, but in text form.

    susan oka November 24th, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Who'd have thought there would be a word so specific to mean "third from the last syllable of a word"?

    Ryan G. November 24th, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    oops...forgot the why...

    plethora. mainly i just like the way it sounds.

    cristina rose smith November 24th, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    liminality -- this word has something sensual to it. I appreciate the sense of being on the threshold or cusp of a process, the in-between.

    stephen evans November 24th, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Still. The tension of meanings that pull in different directions.

    Don Dutcher November 24th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    My favorite sounding word, especially at this time of year with snow, multitudinous bells (sleigh, sleds, Salvation Army, trotting dogs, etc.) and other seasonal sounds, is tintinnabulation. The word itself SOUNDS like what it is describing.

    I’ve been taught in school that this type of word is onomatopoeic; a word formed by imitation of the sound made by or associated with it, as in cuckoo or boom. Edgar Allen Poe used this term in his famous poem describing the chorus of bells pealing from bell towers in hometowns across the country.

    How much easier our refugees and new Americans would have it, if most of our American words SOUNDED like their meaning!?

    This is a sound and a word to love. It tingles and trips off the end of your tongue, embodying its own rhythm. The sound is no poorer for coming from your mouth, rather than a lofty bell tower.

    From the bell tower, though, it does have its own majesty. The tintinnabulating bells float across the towns of America from church bell towers announcing V-J Day, V-E Day, a day to worship, a day to mourn, a day to remember. The tintinnabulation joyfully precedes the trotting horse pulling a winter sleigh. The monotone tintinnabulations over Salvation Army pots at this season remind us that so many more are in need this season. The tintinnabulations announce joy, bespeak sadness, recall memories and pervasively persist in American culture to remind us what we’re made of: both hearts that are easily broken in remembrance of others, and wills that are courageously strong to empower our bodies to the best of loyalty, valor, and courage.

    May you also enjoy the tintinnabulations of the season.

    [for Powell’s “favorite word contest”;]

    susan oka November 24th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    NOTE: the quotes are my own...

    Bill Jones November 24th, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    known by infants worldwide.
    its use insures sexual favors?
    general purpose word for any

    Emily Rishel November 24th, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Procrustean. My reasons:

    1. It has an amusing Greek mythological origin which is both right on the money and obscure enough that I marvel it ever birthed a word.
    2. There's no other word that fits. What else are you going to call that person or policy or what have you? "Rigid"? "Judgmental"? "Exacting"? Bah. Not even close.
    3. "Procrustean" has a punch. It sounds as precisely insulting as it's meant to be. You have the "pro," which sounds like you're for something, then the "crusty," as people who are procrustean tend to be rigid, curmudgeonly, and inflexible. It sounds like they're in favor of being a crusty jerk about something, which is roughly true. The superior-acting person you're accusing of being procrustean probably won't want to ask you what it means, but will certainly get a sense of the idea.

    I love that word.

    Michael Pemulis November 24th, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Solipsism (according to the Oxford Pocket American Dictionary) n. Philos. the view that the self is all that exists or can be known.

    When you decide to move outward from so-called Airport Novels and pretentiousise your ego muscle by lifting "heavier" (read Postmodern) novels, you will most definitely encounter this word. Say it out loud, sahl-ip-siz-mm. I picture a squid underwater, holding a baseball bat in one tentacle. Like something you're sure is going to slip through your hands no matter how hard you hang on. And though I don't have (m)any opportunities to use this word in conversation, that is, not without shoehorning, and therefore exposing myself for the uneducated a** I am, I like it all the same.

    jamie November 24th, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    I love this word because it sounds so ridiculous, yet it is a totally practical and useful word. It means to flee or abscond usually with someone or something. It can be used in a variety of situations including:
    1. There's a fire; grab the cat and absquatulate.
    2. Let's absquatulate to Cananda if McCain is elected.
    3. Those party-goers absquatulated with the plastic forks and knives we purchased with the intent of providing utensils for the potato salad.

    uglyboxer November 24th, 2008 at 6:51 pm


    A marvelously specific word that can transport you into a movie filled with gunslinger or gangsters, in a flash. It is the word that first introduced me to the enormity, and beauty, of the English language.

    John Rivera November 24th, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    I like the word "actually" because it's always the end of a falsehood and the start of a truth, as in "Well, not anymore. I actually got that rash taken care of last week."

    Also, because this kid I know, Evan who's 7 now, says it all the time as in, "Actually John, I'm not allergic to eggs, only peanuts."

    Angie November 24th, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    Fugue, because I had to look it up. I'm 34 and had never heard the word before. It was in David Cooks new song BAR-BA-SOL. So now I tell the kids, I'm in a fugue, go bug your dad.

    bbartpear November 24th, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    milquetoast - I remember reading this word when I was about 8 using the rules I had learned about sounding out unfamiliar words came up with mil que toast which didn't give any enlightenment however gave my mother spasms of giggles when I asked what mil que toast meant. When she informed me of the correct pronunciation, I demanded to know why it wasn't spelled milk toast! I gave me a lifelong love of offbeat words!

    Tom November 24th, 2008 at 9:37 pm


    DhanaLakshmi November 24th, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    It is very useful and we end most of the conversation with this word. This word helps for expressing our gratitude and it also helps for smooth relations at various levels.

    Europaer November 24th, 2008 at 11:29 pm

    Schadenfreude - adopted (and a favorite of mine) because English nouns just can't match the descriptive prowess of German ones.

    kristinbell November 25th, 2008 at 1:12 am

    Ugh! My favorite word? How could I love just one more than the others??!!! Okay, I guess I'll just go with the word that popped into my head first: glossolalia.

    I learned the word from my art history professor and he said to make sure to write it down, because he knew we'd need to know it someday when we wanted to make ourselves seem sophisticated at some cocktail party. He comes up with a bunch of these sorts of words every term and since most people only ever take one class from him, he does tend to recycle the cocktail party joke.

    Of course, he is assuming we'd ever GO to a cocktail party! Do people even have cocktail parties anymore? It seems so 1950's! Or like something someone would do in New York. I guess I'm more of the potluck class.

    Anyway, I like the way glossolalia sort of sounds like a gibberish word and how it rolls off the tongue. Also, the definition is funny. It is the term used to describe speaking in tongues! lol

    So, I guess if I had to pick a word, that would be it...but I just have to say that I like all words equally! hehe. I'm even a big fan of "THE." It is quite useful and we'd be lost without it!

    I dedicate my favorite word to Dr. Charles Colbert...the professor with a word for every cocktail party!

    Derek McDow November 25th, 2008 at 1:58 am

    If it's not reify, extant, or anachronic--my personal repertoire of colloquial nomenclature, all vernacular jargon, otherwise known as gobbledegook of course,-- it's probably INCHOATE. Perhaps, as a perpetual & haunting recall from my unconscious, I'm being strangely reminded of an intimation of myself; much like the word's forced exhalation or glottal plosive, both breath and sound reflect that eery liminal ghostliness we all feel coheres to us like Hamlet's ghost and his "Remember me..." INCHOATE, where it originally came from doesn't matter since the mystery of the word is a mystery of the meaning in the word itself.

    Kim laird November 25th, 2008 at 5:21 am

    Aubade : probably because it is one of my newer words, but also because it sounds beautiful, just like the thing it describes, a a song greeting the sunrise. The more formal definition follows : a song or poem greeting or evoking the dawn; a morning love song; a song of lovers parting in the morning; morning music

    Who would have thought there would be a word to describe something so specific as a song to greet the dawn? And there are even some favorite books that this word can be used to describe.

    ScottR November 25th, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Crepuscular. Because I found it after looking up coprophagous. Whenever I look up a word, I take a few minutes to browse the surrounding pages. And after finding out what coprophagous means, it was nice to learn a pleasant word.


    Robin Selman November 25th, 2008 at 6:38 am

    "omphaloskepsis" - contemplation of one's navel as an aid to meditation

    I discovered this word as a teenager in the 80s. I love that it combines "om" (the most a layperson could regurgitate in terms of knowledge of meditation, however unconnected to the Greek root) and "skepsis", which forces an almost immdiate connection to "skeptical", my own response to the idea that contemplating one's navel might prove useful -and- that a word exists to define the practice....

    Michael Thornton Wyman November 25th, 2008 at 7:40 am


    Talk about ridiculously specific; now here's a word that you'll be hard pressed to drop casually into contemporary conversation. Managing to do so, however, affords me sheer joy. Not only do the syllables delightfully dance off the tongue, the word brings to mind my grandmother's house, trains, and the beautiful young poetess who taught it to me.

    Gimme the book! November 25th, 2008 at 7:45 am

    learned in the womb
    feels like mush in the mouth
    universally interchangeable
    no correct spelling
    used frequently by "W"
    can be chanted for food
    not in the oed

    Dawn November 25th, 2008 at 7:53 am

    sidle, the intransitive verb that describes the crab-like sideways walk. Why do I like it? At this time of the year, as December dawns and Dungeness crab season opens, the hungry hoards of crab pickers who used to march to the processing plants that no longer ring our Humboldt Bay are Ghosts, like the luminescent cerulean blue crabs as they sidle to magically submerge themselves into the granular sand of the exposed moonlit tidal expanse of the Mendocino beach near Anchor Bay, with only a few bubbles rising to tell where they have ensconced themselves safe from my reverberating footsteps that are, too, a memory evoked by a word. Thus the word, the reason and the word's precision. And I love the word nice. It is an erudition, but I will sidle out of an explanation, and avoid direct responsibility for the spelling of my chosen word because I have a computer telling me I can't spell and that makes me even crabbier...I must amble off and hope to encounter a cheerier prospect! Enjoy! Attentively yours, Dawn M. Mulderig of Eureka, California, which is nearly Oregon, but not quite.

    kristine November 25th, 2008 at 8:11 am


    Dripping with sweet suggestion...spoken slowly and silently...whispered without sound over an amber glass of dulcet desire.

    Joe November 25th, 2008 at 9:04 am


    Ken November 25th, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I - it is all about me, isn't it?

    lnwc November 25th, 2008 at 9:51 am

    grace - Because I am sure that if we all aspired to live our lives with some, the world would be a better place.

    Anuschka November 25th, 2008 at 9:59 am

    defenestrated - i actually can't really stand the word but what i love is the undeniable absurdity of having a specific word to refer to throwing yourself out a window. why a window? why couldn't it refer to throwing yourself off anything high with possibly unfortunate results? and what was going on in the english speaking world at the time that required the invention of a word for, i assume, a common occurence?

    KathyKathy G November 25th, 2008 at 10:26 am

    My favorite word is Ralph. It is a quick, clear word to say. The sound of it is humorous and direct. I also sounds rather like barking. It is amusing to repeat it several times and feel your spirits lift. I like the word "Ralph".

    DeniseB November 25th, 2008 at 11:13 am

    OBTURATOR...."2 a : a prosthetic device that closes or blocks up an opening (as a fissure in the palate) b : a device that blocks the opening of an instrument (as a sigmoidoscope) that is being introduced into the body" from Merriam-Webster dictionary.

    I am an open-heart recovery nurse. There is a device that is inserted via an introducer into the jugular or subclavian during surgery called a Swan-Ganz catheter. It measures a bunch of crap but to sum it up, internal pressures on both sides of the heart. When a patient no longer needs their Swan, you can pull this catheter out but leave the introducer in the vein because it is a large bore IV, good for blood draws, fluid resuscitation, etc (all you nurses out there-HOLLA!!) When you pull the Swan out, the introducer must be capped with an OBTURATOR...that is the technical end of it.

    The GREAT thing about this word....nobody knows the name of this erasure-sized cap. So:

    A) I sound smart and let's face it, who doesn't like that? Four syllables for a cap? Jeez...

    B) It is a tiny piece of plastic, in a large package with enough plastic to make Al Gore write a book about plastic abuse.

    C) Whenever I pull the line and place the cap, I start singing...(to the tune of Jim Croce's "Operator") "Obturator, let's just forget about this Swan....there are no numbers, I really wanted to write down...thank you for your've been so much more than cost way more than a dime" I believe that I am hilarious and the patient gets to hear my lovely singing voice. It's a win/win.

    Blake November 25th, 2008 at 11:31 am


    Because how many four letter words make you reach for the dictionary?

    andrew November 25th, 2008 at 11:41 am

    my favorite word is "peace". If, and that's a huge if, there was world peace and maybe therefore inner peace, there would be so much more time for reading! :)

    Bobbi November 25th, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    "Hilarious" - I love saying it and it is less used than funny.

    Stephanie November 25th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Adventure. Everyone should always have it in. It makes life interesting.

    Becky November 25th, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Languish. It just feels like what it means when I say it.

    ratliff November 25th, 2008 at 2:59 pm


    It might seem perverse to seize on a word that means "[r]uin, destroy; incapacitate." (This is according to the Shorter Oxford, which is the only one I can currently afford, not that this should in ANY WAY affect your decision. Don't mind me, I've had a good life. You go on ahead without me.)

    But there are so many things to love about "banjax," starting with its lack of pedigree. Is it a corruption of Urdu brought back to the Isles by soldiers serving in the Raj? A Joycean parody of Latin? A Scandinavian term for something disgusting, like "gravlax"? Nobody knows! It's just two syllables so perfectly matched that the first Irishman to string them together no doubt thought he was repeating a word he'd heard toward the darker end of an epic brannigan (another favorite word).

    It's true that in some ways it resembles those made-up words that corporations name themselves in order to maintain complete control over their "brand," but ultimately this is another reason to love "banjax": its powerful connotations of devastation and failure -- "We're banjaxed" more or less means "We're screwed" -- immunize it forever from appropriation by humorless corporate scarabs.

    Most importantly, it's fun to say. And therein lies its power. Saying "banjax" transforms a scorched wasteland into an ensorcelled junkyard of possibility.

    "We're screwed" just sounds petty and resentful."We're banjaxed" suggests that we might as well round everybody up and try that ridiculous plan nobody thinks will work because really, what have we got to lose, and if we fail at least we went down swinging but if we succeed we'll be covered in glory and either way they'll by god find out what we're made of.

    Because honestly? We're going to be needing a word like that.

    E. B. November 25th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    My first of many favorite words was "reticent." I found it as a teenager and it was the first word I found that adequately described the way I felt.

    Seth November 25th, 2008 at 3:18 pm


    A word that describes a subtle but extremely useful concept: how following any trajectory to its extreme creates a dynamic tension which often results in the appearance of its opposite. I.e.: You despise someone so much that you suddenly are filled with unspeakable love for them (and vice-versa).

    The word is powerful because it describes the way that any process, taken too far in one direction, calls forth a balancing polarity. Recognition of this pattern helps us makes sense of many complex situations in the world, from biology to psychology, economics to spiritual transformation.

    The most logically clear explication of this concept is found in the projective geometrical exercise involving two intersecting lines, one of which rotates around any random point within it that is not the intersection point. As the one line rotates, follow the point of intersection, specifically when the lines approach parallelality. Keep rotating the lines and following their intersection, and you can directly experience an enantiodromia.

    Kate November 25th, 2008 at 4:05 pm


    I love this word because I have a fond memory of the first time my dad explained what onomatopoeia meant and the funny faces he made as he said "buzz" and "plop" and "bang"!

    Kas November 25th, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    Buggar. I know, it isn't the most unusual or interesting, but it is so terribly useful on a plethora of
    occasions of all types. It is far more acceptable in most situations calling for an explative that the more traditionally American counterpart, yet it is quite satisfying in it's explosive b, gutteral g's and growling r. And, truly, haven't we had plently of opportunity for its use in the last eight years?

    heidi November 25th, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    meh just entered the OED so it's my newest favorite word!

    Megan November 25th, 2008 at 9:48 pm


    Whenever I can't think of a word, I can think of THIS word. The word for when you can't think of a word.

    It reminds me of Greece - a balmy land that contributed some bone structure to the body of English. It reminds me of Asia - only one syllable away - empty, rocky plains... no words...

    Linnette November 26th, 2008 at 12:13 am

    As a youngster I once read a book that described a character who was standing with arms akimbo. This unfamiliar word allowed my imagination to fly with wild speculation of what sorts of arms the akimbo type might be. it all sounded very exotic and perhaps something a super detective might try. "Stand aside, you dastardly villain! I am here with my arms akimbo!" It came as a great disappointment to learn that this was simply a fancy term for hands on the hips, elbows out. Still, having arms akimbo always sounds very stylish.

    GreatNorthernTroll November 26th, 2008 at 2:42 am


    This would have to be my favorite word at this particular moment in time (I'll have a different, favorite word in about 5 seconds). Fecund sounds like something totally disgusting and sicko-nasty icky poo.. The reality is that it means "fertile" or "capable of bringing forth life".. A beautiful concept with a horrible moniker.

    I also have a "Most Despised" word. It never changes position from the Lowest of the Low and that word is "GROK" I hate the book that spawned it, I hate that I can find it in almost any dictionary you care to mention, I hate that it's welded itself into my brain.. ARGHHH!!
    GROK... I just don't get it!

    Monique Spencer November 26th, 2008 at 4:02 am


    It weaves in and out of us starting in childhood. Powerful incantations such as I want that! I don't want to! tell us that Baby is independent and longing for control. It is desire and poverty, yearning and lacking. It describes the path to opposites -- war and peace, famine and gluttony.

    Plus, I really want that OED. I've used the magnifying glass like Bob Cratchit leaning over a ledger. I don't want to anymore.

    For want of wit, that's all.


    Michael Rhian Driscoll November 26th, 2008 at 4:39 am

    I like arugala. It sounds funny & goes good inna salad. The veg is nice 2.

    Jeff November 26th, 2008 at 5:36 am


    Because it seems that very little is shocking or sacred in our world today, and a chance to use this word would be even that much more powerful.

    Plus, as a high school English teacher, having a 20-volume O.E.D. in my classroom would be profound in and of itself!

    VictoriaVictoria November 26th, 2008 at 8:06 am


    I discovered this word reading an Edwary Gorey story. Since it means a feeling of weariness, dissatisfaction and boredom, it's easy to drop into everyday conversation. Also, it's of French origin so it sounds elegant rolling off the tongue. People pretend to know what it means, and it's interesting to watch their facial expressions as they decide how to respond.

    As a side note, I always try to slide it slide it somewhere into my college writing assignments. Try it, you may receive an "A"!

    Matthew D. November 26th, 2008 at 8:59 am


    Once bulbous enters the conversation, and is used a few times in short sequence, someone is going to end up uncomfortable for whatever reason. And it's quite fun to watch that.

    Amy November 26th, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Espionage. From perhaps the age of ten or eleven, my favorite word has been espionage. Very limited usage and my liking it has nothing to do with the meaning, but I find joy simply in the way it rolls off the tongue. Espionage. Espionage. Like warm, molten butter pecan.

    adrienne November 26th, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Espionage! That's my favorite word! The way it sounds and what it means. It is a sexy word. I am
    glad someone finally picked it.

    adrienne November 26th, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Oh, I forgot to say I love this blog! Such great words entered and I am learning new ones. Like banjax.

    MarkMMark November 26th, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    I love the word philanthropy, but I get it mixed up with philandering, which both involve giving. Philanthropy is better though, to give in a charitable way rather than messing with someone else's spouse. I think reading books about the Kennedy's use both words and I get them confused, so I have to be careful when I talk about charity.

    Shannon November 26th, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    My favorite word is "gibbous." You almost never hear this word being used except when discussing a very certain phase of the moon. There's something about the phrase "waning gibbous moon" that is delightful!

    anineauAnna November 26th, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    BUGGER-No.44/Kas has already used it spelt/spelled differently; bugger!
    It is quite beautiful in its own way, especially for Australians. However, we don't mind if folk in the Northern Hemisphere use it. We are not snobs.
    It is useful+++. "Bugger it", "Oh bugger", "What a bugger" "You poor bugger", "A bugger of a job" or just plain olde 'bugger'. I love this word at: the moment.

    Magic November 27th, 2008 at 7:04 am


    Actually, that's how my spouse would answer, but I have a habit of stealing words from others.

    Billie November 27th, 2008 at 4:47 pm


    Because it makes you feel it…even if you don’t want to…like moist or dank, but in my opinion more fun. I also like how if fits both meanings quite perfectly.

    My other word was Sisyphean but in the end I did not think it stood alone as well as…SCAB.

    Tom Grosch November 27th, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    My favorite word is 'set.'

    Look that up in the massive Oxford dictionary and be surprised!

    Eells, E November 27th, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    One of my favorite words is, "prolific," which is defined in the Merriam Webster Dictionary as:

    Main Entry: pro•lif•ic
    Pronunciation: \prə-ˈli-fik\
    Function: adjective
    Etymology: French prolifique, from Middle French, from Latin proles + Middle French -figue -fic
    Date: 1650
    1: producing young or fruit especially freely : FRUITFUL 2: archaic : causing abundant growth, generation, or reproduction 3: marked by abundant inventiveness or productivity

    I like the word "prolific" for a number of reasons. I like its meaning which includes “generation,” “fruitful,” “inventive,” “abundant” and “growth” in such a simple way. It’s also easy to say. Most people understand it - which is important when you’re trying to communicate with them.

    I enjoy being prolific because I like to be engaged in life continually learning and growing. I admire other people who are prolific. I believe their prolific output demonstrates they are fully engaged in life.

    MARLENE November 27th, 2008 at 7:28 pm


    James November 27th, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    "WHY": A wonderfully supple and expressive word suitable for all occasions and contexts. It interrogates, explains. It shows sudden recognition as an interjection. It allows one, for example, to be noncommittal while turning the tables on others, forcing them to justify themselves.

    JC November 27th, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    Contubernal: Dwelling in the same tent. So uselessly specific that only the subtlest of speakers could use it without comic pretense.

    Jeff November 27th, 2008 at 8:44 pm


    It's an interesting word to me as it seems ironic that such an apparently (facially) complex word is used to describe something or somebody so trifling and/or insignificant.

    Ding Pression November 27th, 2008 at 8:46 pm

    My tip of the hat goes to "tintinnabulation". Learned it in sixth grade as part of preparation for a spelling bee. My friend Matt and I opted to ignore its actual definition--a ringing or sounding of bells--as way too lame, and decided to make it fit whatever context we wanted. I still remember him doubling over on the playground in front of a teacher and yelling that he was having a tintinnabulation and needed a doctor.

    Scott Smith November 27th, 2008 at 11:00 pm


    It is probably an alteration of "rumbustious," which is itself an alteration of "robustious," which is as old as Shakespeare and means the same, more or less, as "rambunctious." But who would every use the word "rumbustious" or "robustious"?

    But why? Why does "rambunctious" sound somewhat normal, but not "rumbustious"? Strange.

    My answer to why is that "rambunctious" sounds like what it means. There's the stop of the "m" and then the bursting of the "b" and then the gate drops down for the "nc" and then finally, the crash cymbal of the last syllable and a half.

    A great word, all around.

    steve November 27th, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Ginormous: extraordinarily large. It's the perfect blend between gigantic and enormous, and better than humongous. It arouses laughter a good deal of the time I use it. It's not only a descriptive, but a brightening word and I don't know anybody who doesn't like it.

    Doyle November 27th, 2008 at 11:38 pm


    It's just such a cool word. :)

    Enheduanna November 28th, 2008 at 2:33 am


    When trapped in a movie theater lobby thronged with girls waiting to see Twilight, one wishes to identify the menace by its correct species designation.

    lyn5 November 28th, 2008 at 7:10 am

    Purr. It's a word that you hear and feel.

    Autumn November 28th, 2008 at 8:22 am


    Someone once told me that once you start seeking out and finding the truth, you start to see the paradox in each situation. I love the way that something can be both and neither at the same time.

    Christmas November 28th, 2008 at 9:52 am

    madder, the plant as in "madder rose," which was a new word for me as an adult when I learned about the color, the dye, and its origin relating to the plants - so I like the word's doubleness and the way it sounds.

    Sandy November 28th, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Craptacular. It's so bad it's great! Though I don't think it's an official word yet.

    Ben November 28th, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Copacetic. Completely underused, but with a specific zen quality to it that prevents its overuse. Rings like a bell when utilized in the proper moment, yet erudite enough to not become a catchphrase.

    Rachel November 28th, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I love the word conundrum. For some reason, I think it sounds just like if feels when you are just about to make a decision and then all of a sudden you have this moment of "oh crap... there IS that..." and you realize the right decision is way more difficult to come to, because you have some type of weird paradoxical dilemma which wasn't in your thought process prior to the oh crap moment.

    Elissa November 28th, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Tomfoolery. Because it's the coolest word ever. And how else to describe what my kids are up to all day? Best said aloud in an English accent, though.

    Linda November 28th, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Lollygag. Because it's fun to say and fun to do.

    Craig November 28th, 2008 at 10:00 am

    Defenestrate: "to throw out a window."
    It finds a surprising amount of use in my life. And it gets points for being a long and bizarre word for an action that definitely needed such a word.

    If a woman ever threatens to defenestrate me, I think I'll have found my soulmate.

    Or I'd better run.

    MrvnMouse November 28th, 2008 at 10:08 am


    Now, I've heard people argue this is too technical of a word, but I remember seeing it in the dictionary at my elementary school as a child and loving it. It's such a great word. It's long, has a very specific meaning, and actually was in a single volume dictionary (I cannot remember which one though). claims it's a hoax. But I remember explicitly seeing it in a dictionary before the internet even existed.

    lkn November 28th, 2008 at 10:08 am


    With one of every vowel in the mix, don't you think it's aptly named?

    Stephan November 28th, 2008 at 10:08 am

    mellifluous- smooth, rich, creamy, flowing, sonorous. Pretty much everything that's good in the universe. I'm picturing Venus on the halfshell, softly grooving to Move on Up with gossamer tendrils of liquid love coursing around her. But that's just me.

    Manuel November 28th, 2008 at 10:18 am


    Because it's fun the way it rolls off the tongue--the double 'l' tap of the tongue tip against the back of the upper teeth is like a little tickle.

    Amy Mac November 28th, 2008 at 10:21 am

    tchotchke - And it isn't even English. Yiddish with Polish overtones (or undertones maybe). It's a lovely word. So full in the first syllable ("chotch"), so much sound coming together, and then the flippant, light second syllable ("key"). Kind of delicate and throw-away. And that's what sums up the word. And I even love all of the synonyms of it. "Trinket" and "knickknack." Everything all cheap and showy and ornamental. It's a word on my "must use in my writing" list, but I haven't found the vehicle good enough for it yet.

    Jenny Miller November 28th, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Titillating - very onomonopoetic

    Padraig November 28th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Liminal. The sound rings in my head like the concept the word expresses - hearing the ghostly battle-cheers of the Sidhe-ranks on a foggy morning, when you can almost see the glint of the spearheads through the streamers of mist, or on a wild Samhain (Hallowe'en, if you wish) night when the wind rushes the leaves and the dunting call of the Wild Hunt can almost be heard. This in-between state, being in both worlds, ours and the Other, is wonderful.

    Or I'm just nuts.

    Tad Hansen November 28th, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Succinct. I can't explain it, perhaps I just spent a lifetime of trying to communicate something with several words, and only in the last few years have I realized that it's meaning is in this one simple word that flows so nicely. I have saved quite a few breaths by using "succinct" instead of saying "keep it brief, write only what is necessary."

    Alex November 28th, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Recalcitrant! Why? Because it describes such stubbornness but yet it's so fun to say (at least I think so)!

    Frank C November 28th, 2008 at 10:41 am


    The use of long words.

    Why? Using a polysyllabic word to describe the use of long words is simply linguistic irony at its best.

    Elizabeth November 28th, 2008 at 10:42 am

    I love words with 'Q' in them. Maybe I just watched too much Star Trek as a child, but I can't get over the sound of them: quality, equestrian, quotation, and the philosopher's favorite, qua. There is a richness and a mystery about the sound that always brings out the quidnunc in me, wanting to find out their secrets and shout them abroad.

    Heidi November 28th, 2008 at 10:53 am

    "Serendipity" is one of my favorite words. Not only is it a fun word to say, but it comes out easily considering it is five syllables. But the best thing about "serendipity" is its definition - "the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident." I love when that happens!

    Jenssa November 28th, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Epic: heroic; majestic; impressively great

    I love this word because it's the pretext for something incredible. (i.e. the EPIC battle, or the EPIC movie.)

    I yearn to live an epic life.


    Cathy S. November 28th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Malevolent. Not only does it remind me of one of my favorite villainesses, Maleficent, but I love the way it sounds. Perhaps its mellifluousness is as deceitful as the people it defines.

    CaCalye November 28th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Perhaps. It has such a nice sound to it. Per-haps. Ahh... It's that mystery too. Maybe, maybe not, no: perhaps I'll do it.

    Lynne Pfeiffer November 28th, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I'm always looking for ways to use this in amusing ways, such as in a discussion about accepting change -- "Brother, can you paradigm?"

    J.L. November 28th, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Because nobody ever uses it. And it sounds hobbit-y.

    Cathy November 28th, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Verisimilitude - the quality of appearing of being true or real....

    I learned this word while in an American literature course in college.We were reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the professor introduced the word while lecturing about Twain's use of multiple dialects. I suppose the word has stuck with me because the professor, dressed in the typical 80's professor style, with long graying hair, had an honest and very real passion for teaching literature and was one of many professors who inspired my passion for literature. This particular professor often introduced new terms and made a point of citing the "Oxford Dictionary of Concise Literary Terms."

    I often look back upon those who inspired me and my passion for literature as well as the resources they used to help further expand my knowledge! I try to share my passion for literature with a sense of verisimilitude with my high school English students as well.

    Eve November 28th, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Well, considering I have an entirely file on my computer called "favorite words" it's really hard to pick just one. But today, I think I'm inclined to go with ICONOCLASTIC, because it's fun to say, and I like the meaning of the word, and the meaning suits me.

    Cecily November 28th, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Obfuscate. It's such a funny word and I learned it when one of my friends referred to his lawyer friends as 'obfuscation ninjas'. Now, isn't that fabulous? Wouldn't you love to be an obfuscation ninja?

    Loren November 28th, 2008 at 11:36 am


    It's a simple word, but one that I feel is more and more apropos to our current online culture. Lots of people becoming verbose. Word/comment/idea overload. Truth and falsehood mixing together in a sea of words. I'm not sure that I can say whether the verbosity is good or bad, only overwhelming. Even Google can't make sense of it for most of us anymore. But I remember a quote from an early issue of Wired magazine (I think it was Stewart Brand) that said "information wants to be free." Well, information is increasingly becoming so, and we therefore have a verbose online discussion. How to make sense of the plethora of content will be our next challenge...

    LaDonna November 28th, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Because it has a satisfying, rolling feel on your tongue when you say it. And it describes my personal bias. And M is a fun letter.

    Erik November 28th, 2008 at 11:53 am

    I use it, my characters in stories I write use's everywhere I swear

    Jennifer Starkman November 28th, 2008 at 11:56 am

    I love words in general, but at the moment my unquestionable favourite is "dunklebunt"--a word invented by artist/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000)which means "glowing in pure strong and deep colours a little sad like seen on a rainy day." Hundertwasser loved the word (and the look of rainy days--"regentag" in German) so much that he made them his middle names:
    Friedensreich Regentag Dunklebunt Hundertwasser! (see "Harvesting Dreams: Hundertwasser for Kids" by Barbara Stieff)

    Jason Taylor November 28th, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    This is a hard one, favorite word... I have a 7 page text file full of words I enjoy immensely, I am going to go with "Osculate". I pick that one because it means "to kiss" and, in mathematics, it means "to touch so as to have a common tangent at the point of contact". Also, Osculate is one of the least sexy ways to say kiss I've ever heard, it makes me laugh.

    Jessica November 28th, 2008 at 12:02 pm


    this word does not actually appear in the OED. it is, in fact, not actually a word. but it appears in anne carson's book decreation, and and is currently my fictitious word obsession.

    Jessica November 28th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Pretentious. It aptly describes so many tendencies and characteristics of the new intellectual vintage-obsessed indie hipster, my favorite subculture to observe, mock, analyze and secretly admire.

    As a kind of ironic added bonus, deeming something about said hipster 'pretentious' causes one to come off as though they themselves are "attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, culture or talent than is actually possessed".

    And we all know how hipsters love irony. ;)

    Aaron November 28th, 2008 at 12:13 pm


    (to leave quickly, to decamp, to get out of dodge...a fun mashup of the Latin genesis of the word "abscond" and "perambulate." Used all the time in the 19th Century.

    Let's bring it back, y'all!

    Jody November 28th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Someone suggested "tintinnabulation" above. I'm going to go with the similar "peal" -- a beautiful, simple word that has its origins in the verb "appeal."

    Sarah November 28th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    Dollop - like a wonderful dollop of homemade whipped cream!

    Ayckbourn November 28th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    facetious- Given to wit and good humor; merry; sportive; jocular; as, a facetious companion.

    I think we all can lighten up at times and there is a need to to inject a wee bit of humor into certain situations. When people don't get my jokes and I tell them I am being facetious, that usually confuses them even more.

    Dave November 28th, 2008 at 12:24 pm


    I learned this word about two summers ago from my word of the day application. The day I learned it me and several friends had a party at the beach. As night descended on us and the combination of football on the beach with excessive alcohol consumption caused about half the group to become pretty docile while the other half became quite rowdy. This was exemplified by the consternation Jack showed to my friend Drew who after drinking a can of beer poured out the last bit of foam before putting the empty can into a bag. Jack grabbed Drew in a headlock and took him to the ground while asking "What part of the beer can be wasted Drew?!"

    Drew replied calmly and evenly, "It was foam Jack."

    The two stayed in this position and repeated these lines until I said to a friend of mine(as I recall, I was a bit hazy myself), "It's that point of the night where we find what each of us hold sacred. For Jack beer is sacrosanct."

    This stopped a couple of conversations, notably the exchange between Jack and Drew, and led to a good bit of laughter. Though it also nearly led to me trading spots with Drew, still on the ground, still in a head lock, due to Jack being sure that I was insulting him.

    Some friends from the party still recall the story, some the word, but for the most part I simply became the word nerd. :)

    Suzanne G November 28th, 2008 at 12:29 pm


    Because Yeats used it, "the great gray osprey sorrow."

    Because the bird hangs in the sky over the water and suddenly swoops.

    Because I don't have an OED and can't look up the etymology.

    Marjorie November 28th, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Vivific - Giving life, reviving, enlivening.

    Vivific is a word that reminds me that there is always more hope; there's always something to be revived and renewed. Vivific reminds me that life requires action. Life is something we can give.

    CgarCharlie November 28th, 2008 at 12:36 pm


    It leads to so many discussions.

    JohnN November 28th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Ubiquitous ... because it's everywhere!

    blair frodelius November 28th, 2008 at 12:59 pm


    without feck, what the feck does that mean?

    actually, in old scots "feck" is a from of "effect". so, in effect, feckless means ineffectual.

    great word.

    adrienne November 28th, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Word: Sate

    Why: Because I love being sated.

    Vanessa November 28th, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Vacuous. Especially when used to describe truth. "A vacuous truth." Those kind of truths too often permeate our relationships and conversations as we say more and reveal less.

    Laura K November 28th, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    My favorited word is conundrum.

    I love the way the word sounds and feels when you say it. And the first time I heard this word was in high school during my world history

    The first time I heard this word was in 2001, shortly after September 11th. It was in World History class in high school. Then a few months later I heard it on the news, then in a movie, then in a conversation. The word 'conundrum' kept showing up everywhere that year. Truly bizarre since it's not a word that appears in every-day conversation.

    MissDaisy November 28th, 2008 at 1:25 pm


    "There is the old brute, too, the savage, the hairy man who dabbles his fingers in ropes of entrails; and gobbles and belches; whose speech is guttural, visceral — well, he is here. He squats in me." Virginia Woolf


    Laura November 28th, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    Substantia Nigra

    Because neuroscience is fun!

    Anthony November 28th, 2008 at 1:28 pm


    1. laborious work, study, thought, etc., esp. at night.
    2. the result of such activity, as a learned speech or dissertation.
    3. Often, lucubrations. any literary effort, esp. of a pretentious or solemn nature.

    - a true scholar's word (and a treasure for lexicrographers alike) without synonym in the English language; it is accordingly the case that when one employs it properly, lucubration -- like any of the of the few genuinely aureate terms among a horde of so many linguistic curios -- encapsulates a rare instance of the synergy of language and thought.

    - the etymology is Latin; from lux: light and lucubratio: "nocturnal study, night work."

    - perhaps the connection is merely coincidental, but the word Lucullan (from the Roman general Lucullus; ety. also from lux) mirrors the negative connotation of lucubration, viz., extravagance (pedantry, etc.).

    - Lucubration is known to have been Byron's favorite word.

    Rachel November 28th, 2008 at 1:30 pm


    When I say it, it actually evokes a feeling of apoplexy.

    wabandmom November 28th, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Laconic - It was the name of one of my son's first bands. Now whenever I see the word when I'm reading, I smile and think of the band.

    LisaVieja November 28th, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Naming one favorite from the many worlds of words makes my heart anxious--I love them all, especially the obsolete ones. Oh, and the Italian ones. And the Sanskrit ones. Stop me! Most days, my favorite word is...

    Numinous. The mysterious, often daunting, inexplicable "wholly Other" that can sometimes by apprehended by creatures (frequently, my cat) who are in a receptive state. (Inadequate explication entirely my own.) I love the humming, velvety sound and also the tremendous scope of powers and possibility barely contained in this word.

    Annalee November 28th, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Hapless. It's such an affectionate-sounding way to describe that poor little soul who just can't catch a break.

    Kim November 28th, 2008 at 3:47 pm


    The denotation of the word is wonderful, true, but I love what happens to my body when I hear this word. My head lifts just a bit, and my eyes open in attentiveness. My lips automatically move into a smile, and my mood and thoughts reach toward the positive.


    Isn't that what we all want ... to be inspired, to inspire others ... the lucky few get to experience both. And, in the meantime, I'll sit, computer on lap, with goosebumps as I contemplate the word.

    Thank you for asking the question.

    Killian C November 28th, 2008 at 3:53 pm


    It rolls off the tongue, like Nabokov's "Lo-li-ta" in reverse. It suggests things that snake and twist, and can describe everything from the ivy plants that choke an old stone building, to the way an octopus maneuvers its tentacles, to smoking cigarettes in the fog. It is not over-used or pretentious, and it gives the object in question a rather romantic, fairy-tale feel. It sounds independently alive, despite being an appendage. Effortlessly clever, I am entirely obsessed.

    Sam S November 28th, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Defenestrate. The first really unusual word that stuck in my head when I began studying Latin around age 10. I was so excited when I saw it used in print for the first time. It was the first major addition to my vocabulary.

    KimKim November 28th, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    An extra story:

    A community college at which I formerly taught used to require students to by a pocket dictionary for its composition classes (I'm unaware of whether the practice still exists).

    During the first day of class, I would pick up someone's pocket dictionary and say:

    "This is NOT a dictionary. Just listen." (I would then drop it on the floor) "This does not thud. A dictionary thuds. It has weight." (Then I would segue into the OED.) "Like many of you covet a sports car or a house, I covet a dictionary. Yes, a dictionary. I will know I have made it in life when I can afford this dictionary, the OED. This dictionary has, for the most part, a book for every letter of the alphabet." (Enter here sounds of disbelieve--both at the size of the dictionary and the fact I want it so much.)

    Now, it may seem that I'm sucking up by adding this story. I probably am. It may also seem that I actually love the word "covet" in this story ... and believe me, I love how visceral that word is.

    Truth, though, is that the OED inspired (and here we get back to my "favorite word") me during grad school (when I was first introduced to it). To know the origins of a word, to delve into all of the intricate meanings ... to understand ...

    What can we say about that kind of knowledge? I wanted to swim inside the OED and soak up the knowledge from its pages. I wanted to show everyone just how important language is, how important both denotation and connotation are within communication.

    Yes, I was inspired.

    Thanks for letting me share, yet again. I swear I'm done now. :)

    Benjamin C November 28th, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    A word lovely for its specificity: crepuscular. According to the OED - of or pertaining to twilight. But, I only fall to this because my favorite over-specific word has already been mentioned. Defenestrate: to throw out of a window.

    Lucas B November 28th, 2008 at 4:36 pm


    because it describes every human activity from the first use of tools and fire, to the invention of written language, to the construction and launch of spacecraft. in all of our daily lives, at our jobs, in our hobbies, and in every activity, we're always endeavoring to do something

    plus, it sounds cool.

    Mîcâh N November 28th, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    I'm a fan of words in context, so it's difficult for me to choose a single word rather than a particularly effective adverb-adjective combination. If I have to choose a single lexical item it must go to "promiscuous." The mention of promiscuity necessarily drags along sexual baggage, and that's why it's a great word to use in academia and other formal settings.

    "Dr. Stewart is not prolific only within his field, he has also published promiscuously in everything from Modern Religion Journal to Popular Mechanics."

    Ashley November 28th, 2008 at 4:50 pm


    I had a very long conversation with someone about this word and I thoroughly enjoy using it every chance I get.

    Mike P November 28th, 2008 at 4:58 pm


    It sounds just like I'd expect the word that refers to the smell of rain should. It looks great on the page as well, which is a definite added benefit for any word.

    Aaron V. November 28th, 2008 at 5:10 pm


    Who does not like something that is mysterious and also peaks ones curiosity? It is quite possible that dark, mysterious figure within me not only likes using this word but also enjoys acting and speaking in a cryptic way.

    Heather Proebstel November 28th, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Flamboyant: because the right to expression of self and ones interests through external means is a crucial part of what makes us free.

    Tony Fairbank November 28th, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Favorite Word: "Obdormition"

    Obdormition (pronounced /ˌɒbdɔrˈmɪʃən/) is a medical term describing numbness in a limb, often caused by constant pressure on nerves or lack of movement. This is also referred to as a limb "going to sleep," usually followed by paresthesia, colloquially called "pins and needles"

    I love this word when I first heard it in graduate school. My classical Chinese Language professor (at the U.W.) used it in a sentence; I had to go home and look it up and then commit it to memory!

    Holly O’Brien November 28th, 2008 at 6:16 pm


    When I used to work in a retirement home I often had to answer the call lights of a somewhat demented little old lady. She would swear that she never put the light on, but five minutes after leaving her room off it would go again. It was hard to get any work done with her in one of her moods as you can imagine. She would often tell me of the "persnickety" little kid who came in the room and hit the call light. That word got really stuck in my head and I have found often fits the case!

    we November 28th, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    So many wonderful words but I feel like this is the year for YES!!! It feels so good to finally say it again and feel the hope and love that comes into your body as you scream out YES!!! Hey after 8 years of OH MY, WHAT THE, and NO WAY IN.... I can't help but just say OH YES!!!

    Porter November 28th, 2008 at 6:47 pm


    Garrett November 28th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    'Avuncular' (uncle-like) is currently in rotation.

    'Quixotic' is my all-time favorite. Partly because it's not as bad an approach as it's made out to be.

    sabisabina edwards November 28th, 2008 at 7:20 pm


    Keith November 28th, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Ferninst: Deliberately contrary

    So old no one knows what it means. So, I get to be ferninst when I use it. ;^P

    sam welch November 28th, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    hands down, Floccinaucinihilipilification. Aside from the obvious poetic value of the word, I've always favored the definition; "the act of deeming something useless". Which means that one might very easily engage in Floccinaucinihilpilification with reference to Floccinaucinihilipilification. I enjoy these moments of unintentional comedy language presents us.

    Kyle Alm November 28th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Ubiquitous, that word is just everywhere. I don't know what it means though. I really need a dictionary. ;)

    chris k November 28th, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Transformational. Simple little word, but the essence of what we all (at least I) long for. A better life, a better world.

    PS. LOVE this blog! Enjoying & learning...

    kbuxton November 28th, 2008 at 8:15 pm


    Molly Craytor November 28th, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Pneumomicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. My mom taught we the word when I was nine, telling me that it was the longest word in the English language. Just that was fascinating enough. Its a highly impressive word, it normally catches people off guard. Also I think the connection the disease has to the Mt St Helens eruption is interesting.

    Eric November 28th, 2008 at 10:38 pm


    simply it means a morsel or scrap of food left after a meal. This word stuck in my head at a very young age. Such a simple word to describe something like a left over.

    K. Weaver November 28th, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    My favorite word, the word I cannot stop obsessing over, the word I use in everyday conversation is CREATIVE. I love the word because everyone fits this word in some way, whether it be in some artistic fashion, the way they think, or even what they bring into life by just being themselves.

    Madeline November 28th, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    I'd have to say my favorite word is spelunking. I learned it in fifth grade when it was used for a spelling bee, and I have always loved the way it rolls off your tongue, out of the rather cavernous region of your mouth, just having gone spelunking itself on it's way out of your larynx. I also really love it paired with my second favorite word- kumquats. Spelunking kumquats. I dare you to say that three times without grinning.

    Ariel November 28th, 2008 at 11:08 pm


    Makes me wonder about the word multifarious.

    Jen Vargas November 29th, 2008 at 12:00 am

    My favorite word is croissant - but said ONLY in a French accent. It sounds snooty and makes me giggle at the same time.

    Rory Ramos November 29th, 2008 at 1:10 am

    My favorite word is ambiguous. The nine letter word opens to all possibilities of a phrase or a word.

    Erin November 29th, 2008 at 5:56 am

    Pulchritude. It sounds ugly. Even better is pulchritudinous which sounds like it means "ugly dude."

    lawmom007 November 29th, 2008 at 6:27 am

    When I came to the United States from Colombia and began learning English, I was in third grade. We were singing Home on the Range in our first music concert, and I was fascinated by the refrain, "where seldom is heard, a discouraging word." I imagined the cowboys on the range expressing their discontent and sorrow by shaking their heads and softly saying, "oh, seldom." Please cheer me up and send me the OED ASAP. Thank-you!

    AjithaaE November 29th, 2008 at 6:35 am

    This is connected to all the unanswerable questions that we face in life. Such as;
    Will I realize my dreams in life?
    Why did he have to die so young?
    Why didn't I see this coming?
    Why can't I win the lottery?

    For all of the above questions and more, the answer is connected to just one word "Destiny". It is one's destiny.

    According to the Oxford Dictionary, it refers to an event that will happen to a person, regarded as predetermined by fate or the hidden power believed to control this; fate.

    It is a word full of intrigue and used quite often in conversations when we resign ourselves to face what ever that may happen in the future.

    "Destiny" is therefore, my favorite word.

    Eric S Gregory November 29th, 2008 at 6:42 am


    • verb formal or technical link together in a chain or series.
    — DERIVATIVES concatenation noun.
    — ORIGIN Latin concatenare ‘link together’.

    As the Fixx so eloquently articulated it:

    "One thing
    Leads to another"

    Eric S Gregory

    jairene November 29th, 2008 at 8:23 am

    OPINION is, in my opinion, the best word ever.

    Why? Simple. It can be defined as what the person thinks, feels and his reactions to everything or anything. But opinion itself cannot be defined solely, because for each and every person in the world, their meaning of opinion is different, their own opinion unique.

    It is something we cannot absolutely define, but something that everybody can understand, whether we try to define it or not.

    That is my opinion!

    Beth November 29th, 2008 at 10:09 am


    Everyone's mixed up syllables of words at some point...The pun fart, I mean the fun part, is that they don't know that there's a word for it.

    erin November 29th, 2008 at 10:17 am

    My favorite word is spiffy.

    It has a bit of a retro feel to it, and is rarely used. And it just feels like a happy word.

    Cindy L November 29th, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Fremd - a word which evokes its own definition by way of a consonant combination not seen elsewhere in English. It means "strange."

    Sollocks November 29th, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Funny, that this should come up. When I was 10 or so and all the other girls were planning their weddings (something that never really occurred to me) I decided I wouldn't get married until I met a man who could use (without prompting or aide) my list of 7 (favorite) words. I never told anyone about it, I'd just decided one day that there were certain words that were the Best Words! and if I met a man who had a vocabulary large enough to encompass these words in his daily conversation then, obviously, I'd have come across my soul mate. This was as ridiculous, if not more as planning a fairy tale wedding but I didn't make the connection at the time.

    My favorite word on the list (and still is)is FRUITION. Unlike potential which only imagines what could be, fruition is almost defiant in its optimism. Fruit will be born! Definition aside, really I've always liked it just for the way it feels in my mouth, a soft fricative and sibilant cradled by easy vowels makes for a smooth delivery. I feel like I'm eating it as I say it, rolling it around in my mouth before finally swallowing.

    I've become a lot more realistic since I was ten and have not given THE LIST much thought at all. Until in meetings and conversations someone says one of the words and I'm hit with a very pleasant wave of nostalgia. But when someone says FRUITION I'm especially pleased. It's as if the full depth and weight of the word is being realized, because at that moment I feel such an affinity to that person, I know that they will be someone special to me. And in both those cases, that list has born its fruit.

    Bethany November 29th, 2008 at 10:43 am

    I love the literal meaning but also the figurative -- the idea of something being re-used but the previous history still showing through in traces. We are all a palimpsest of our experiences.

    Heidi N November 29th, 2008 at 11:05 am


    A Anderson November 29th, 2008 at 11:18 am


    It sounds like what it means. It describes something rare, essentially simple but incorporating more than its first impression. Something 'elegant' is beautiful that engages the mind and the eye, something the word itself manages to do.

    Failing that, go for banjax.

    Caitee K. November 29th, 2008 at 11:49 am


    An abnormal desire to pull one's hair out. I love the specificity and musicality of this word. It has great rhythm and can stay in my head for days.

    Rebekah November 29th, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    genre: what's not to love?

    Jay November 29th, 2008 at 12:41 pm


    It's perfectly representative of all the wonderful native development in English that continues across the pond that we've missed out on over here for the last several centuries. JK Rowling has shared so much of it with us that we owe her a great debt of gratitude. In return, we offer "accessorize."

    Jaye November 29th, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Harangue - I wish it wasn't true, but it is. It seems like that is all I do all the time and nag is such a horrible word; at least harangue sounds interesting. I will have to look up more words for harangue and nag.

    AA Anne November 29th, 2008 at 1:14 pm


    Whoever coined the word meaning "most outstanding of its kind" must have been surrounded by little kids. When my grandfather would say the word, we kids would laugh; of course, he used his tongue to loosen his false teeth, so the spoken word had outstanding visual and auditory accompaniments. The experience was a lollapalooza.

    Lisa Lawer November 29th, 2008 at 2:20 pm


    to deceive or get the better of (someone) by trickery, flattery, or the like; humbug; hoodwink

    Bam! Boozle!

    Big GUM November 29th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I've always loved the word whimsy; it just makes me happy.

    Leslie Q. November 29th, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    The word is fatuous, meaning "complacently stupid," and I quote it to friends (when the situation presents itself, which it usually will in an evening of conversation) just as I learned it from Julianne Moore's character Maude in The Big Lebowski: "Don't be fatuous, Jeffrey."

    Jay November 29th, 2008 at 3:25 pm


    I am a feminist, [but not militant, I be be swayed to understand your side of any argument, as long as you plan it well, and fend for your life] and I can always find a paragraph in a book, a scene in a movie, or special dialogue in a play, that has that certain something that is resistant to/against and has hatred for the beauty, the richness, the madness, and the confusion, that comes with understanding a Goddess, a woman. Lets use it in a sentence.

    "My goodness, in the Transporter, that scene where Jason Statham, plunges a knife into that woman on the wheel, up against the wall, well that was bit misogynistic, don't you think?

    Ronita November 29th, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Cantankerous Ie my father LOL

    mollnoll November 29th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I love this word. I love so many words, but this is a favourite. Even which is removed during a purifying process needs to have a name.
    I named my first hard drive Dross, which dates me quite a bit!

    Brian Martin November 29th, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Pusillanimous: It is easy to feel this way. It is nice to have a sophisticated-sounding word to describe it.

    la November 29th, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    I really can't recall where i found the word "chrestomathic," but it really describes what i look for in general: the chrestomathic thing teaches that which is useful.

    Lindsay November 29th, 2008 at 6:07 pm



    but it sounds like the kind of kissing that could only occur in old Hollywood films, like Clarke Gable in a dark suit sneering "I'm gonna kiss you so you stay kissed"

    Richard Shay November 29th, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Lissome. Sounds beautiful and is onomatopoeic, another great word. Like everyone else, no single word wins.

    Tricia November 29th, 2008 at 6:24 pm


    v.i. whisper. susurrant, a. susurrous, a. rustling. susurrus, n. whispering sound. susurration, n.

    A writer friend of mine asserts that there should be a formal term for a word that sounds like what it is...but this goes far beyond the onomatopoeic buzzing of bees in an apiary. This special type of word must express some ineffable essence of its meaning.

    Sussurate, in its quiet non-stentorian way, seems to proclaim itself the ideal example.

    The leaves sussurate in a zephyr. The mother's somnolent sussurations soothe her infant to sleep. My head on the pillow lullayed by susurrous lyres and viols...susurrous sussurations sussurate...

    Lexine November 29th, 2008 at 7:59 pm


    No matter how many definitions you may read or look-up, you can never come close to the actual meaning or the feeling that word can be associated with. It is one of those words that can never be properly defined to its true potential.

    adam gallardo November 29th, 2008 at 8:12 pm


    Steph November 29th, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Lufia because it's a fun word to play around with you can elongate any part of the word and say it and any tone, speed, or length. luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuufia, lufiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa hmm I definatly love the word lufia plus the fact that you can use the object to get yourself clean:D

    Madelyn Tingley November 29th, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    There are many reasons for which Kerfuffle is my favorite word. First and foremost it is due my opinion that you are able to read this word without any idea what the meaning is and still somehow know how to use it in a sentence. "There was quite a kerfuffle over who was to win the free Oxford English Dictionary 20 volume set." Perfection, everyone know exactly what this means and now wants to use it in their everyday conversation. Secondly I enjoy this word because it is a great deal of fun to say- which is of course is vital when picking an all time favorite word. Finally I feel that kerfuffle can be used in a jovial way and is generally more pleasant than the harsh connotations of words such as fuss or commotion. Kerfuffle is truly an all around word champion.

    Sharese Louise November 29th, 2008 at 8:30 pm


    Part of Speech: adj
    Definition: more than enough; overabundant; extra

    I love this word because it reminds me of how lucky I am to have enough money to pay the bills, go to college, and live well loved and have a full stomoach every night!

    I also love it because in order to say it you have to pause, read it, process it, and then say it all over again because it does not sound as it is spelled. Any reason to pause and think things over in my life is a good thing.

    ~Peace, Love and a Superfluous life to all!

    Spencer November 29th, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Entropy: via information has become the gremlin of my dissertation and I can't stop thinking about it! (and how many times I have to write it:)

    Entropy Entropy Entropy Entropy...

    chris November 29th, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Googlymoogly. I do not know or mind if this word exists in a dictionary. This exclamatory has been used many times by me over the years, since my pops first uttered it. Speak it and you instantly feel better.

    Leslie November 29th, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Set (v,n,a,) sět
    A marvelous word for, if no other reason, its wide variety of usages. Over a hundred definitions in the last dictionary I looked in. Why, without "set", we would just be "putting things aside" and at the racetrack, we'd all be "on our marks" but suddenly happened upon by "Ready, Go!" Cast and crew would just be quiet where ever they may be with lack of set. Volleyball scores would lead to nothing. If we had no set, we'd be back to Σεθ. That's fine for the Greeks, but please have a little mercy on us laymen.

    "Set your mind at ease", were I to say away from the word in question, would make me sound like Frank Costanza.


    Andrew Taylor November 29th, 2008 at 10:53 pm


    whether talking about people, buildings,'s applicable

    E.W.Larsen November 29th, 2008 at 10:54 pm


    Not only is the word potentially useful to one who works in organic synthesis and comes home smelling like all kinds of sulfur and nitrogen compounds, but I love how I discovered the word--reading the dictionary back and forth with my little brother and sister, enjoying the sound of page after page of M words.

    Were it not a name rather than just a word, I might have picked Ouroborus. The sound of all the O's mimics the shape of the snake, such a powerful and beautiful image even without such a magical name.

    Jeff Funk November 29th, 2008 at 10:55 pm


    In the 7th grade, my best friend and I used it to describe our little brothers, since they always seemed to be in our hair.

    Anneke November 29th, 2008 at 11:35 pm


    It means "of, relating to or resembling apples." Only in a language as fantastically superfluous as English do we find such lovely words. "My, your house is filled with a pleasant pomaceous aroma."

    -Anneke, a totally pomaceous babe.

    Tracy Erickson November 30th, 2008 at 12:36 am

    Aa- A small stream, or rivulet. It's the first word in the OED, so it's a great beginning!

    Louise November 30th, 2008 at 6:12 am

    PASSIONATE - 2 a: capable of, affected by, or expressing intense feeling b: enthusiastic , ardent
    3: swayed by or affected with sexual desire

    What a loaded word!! It is beautiful to me because I realize, as I get older, that the things we are passionate about, define us. Passionate conjures up images of campaigning for President Obama, joining PETA, loving my books etc.

    On the less serious side, the phrase "passionate kisses" (I am making a dreamy face right now!)is just very sensual and warm, lovely really.

    If someone says they are PASSIONATE, you do not ignore the words that come next.

    Used in a sentence: I am passionately hoping to win the OED!"

    Morgan Balog November 30th, 2008 at 8:14 am

    Sadly, I would have to say that my favorite word is the word "disappointment". We all know what this means by experience because at one time or another, unless you were a perfect child, hand crafted in a lab, we were exposed to our parents "disappointment" in us. When parents dropped this nuke on us, it was always so much more devastating than being yelled at or smacked. It meant that they had expected better of you and that you had failed them in a weird military kind of way. Since I have pretty awesome parents, I was fortunate of having a sense of understanding on my side whenever I did anything stupid or ridiculous. But there were times when I was dumb enough to have earned the scolding and words that followed..."We are so disappointed in you". Wow, talk about complete and total devastation. Whenever your parents whipped that one out of th bunker on, you were guaranteed to be wounded for quite a while.

    Now that was just my introduction, I feel that this word embodies a total idea and presence, a mindset of you wish. Once you are exposed to this feeling first hand, it scars you forever. You are branded and left with knowing how to be "disappointed" and let down bythe things you can count on the most. It just happens. People are flawed and so is life.

    The word disappointment just labels that feeling of surprise, shock, and regretfully, even disgust when something that you invested a lot of faith in, just collapses in front of you. I think that because I was exposed to this bomb of a word, that it left me with the ability to be disappointed more easily. Why you may ask is this possible? Well, I failed my parents at one point or another, not in a major way but I did and once you fail, you know how to fail and you become a rocket scientist at knowing and labeling failure around you. Maybe I am just a pessimist and sometimes even a misanthropist but since I was little, my disappointment is with me all of the time. Sometimes I'll be disappointed in people. I will be upset and bothered with the decisions and actions they make. I'll think to myself...AREN'T WE SUPPOSED TO BE INTELLIGENT BEINGS?!?! But yet, our government and peers can fail us by losing 700 billion dollars, increasing the parkway tolls, drinking and driving, polluting our planet to the point that we are all going to be dead very soon, and of course, being unable to merge your cars from two lanes to one causing miles and miles of traffic jams. All of these things, some being minor and some being very big are all things that can be labelled as disappointing and just down right pathetic and sad.

    So since this is becoming too lengthy, I'll just leave you with a list of 10 random things that I am disappointed with in my life. And just remember that I chose this word because it embodies an entire destruction of faith and loyalty. The word and feeling of "Disappointment" just reminds me of a nuclear bomb; it destroys it's target mentally and then once used, it just scars everything exposed to it. A person with a great deal of exposure to disappointment is left with a higher standard of expectations for everything in this or her life. I just find it fascinating that one word can sum all of that up. And I'm sure that I missed a great deal of what I meant to say. So here's my list.

    1. I was disappointed when I realized that I had lost faith in God and all possibilities of a God existing
    2. I was disappointed and even devastated when I realized that Santa did not really break into my house every Christmas through my chimeny to give me a bunch of presents that I had demanded, even when I hadI never met him.
    3. I was disappointed when I watched my brother play lacrosse in high school and realized that I was too much of a coward to ever get involved with sports while I was in high school.
    4. I was disappointed with the terrible final movie of "The Pirates of the Carribean". Did they honestly think that that was a good movie when making it?
    5. I am still disappointed with peoples' inability to drive and follow the rules.
    6. I was disappointed when I realized that some people don't believe in evolution. This is pretty pompous but as I said, mass amounts of exposure to this word will make you an arrogant and spiteful person.
    7. I was disappointed in my inability to not have a college career without the presence of alcohol.
    8. I am disappointed that I dislike people sometimes without even conversing with them.
    9. I am disappointed that I couldn't tell you that "disappointment" was my favorite word without writing a novel about it.
    10.I am disappointed that my favorite word in the entire Oxford English Dictionary is the word "disappointment"

    Sorry for being such a downer with this and sorry for taking so long.

    ruth smith November 30th, 2008 at 8:40 am

    My favorite word is TOAD primarily because I like the way it sounds. Toads are soft, rounded earthy creatures and toad is a soft, rounded earthy word.

    =Dan November 30th, 2008 at 9:27 am


    I have loved this word since I was a child sitting at an old fashioned soda fountain in Auburn and my dad explained what was in root beer (at least when he was growing up). I must have driven my family crazy on the long drive home by repeating it in as many variations as I could think of...Slowly, quickly, whispered, shouted and, eventually, silently.

    I never get tired of the word, where as I have had a few infatuations with other words: Ubiquitous, Hassenpfeffer (not English but fun nonetheless), and so many more. The beauty of language is how one word can seem so perfect in what it describes and yet be so inadequate at the same time. When you think of the word "Sunset" you don't concentrate on how it is constructed - nor does the definition first come to mind. Rather upon reading the word "Sunset" it evokes a memory, a powerful emotion. And that is what the word "Sassafras" does for me.

    CcccccChuck November 30th, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Contribute. It has to do with giving, which is not only a theme for the season but a mantra (hey, there's another one!) to live by.

    geoff November 30th, 2008 at 10:11 am


    I think this word is hilarious. It's one of the few English words which actually sounds and feels like what it represents. I love the fact that many people are mysteriously disgusted by the word--perhaps due to its peculiar prevalence in advertisements for both food and hygiene products? I use it all the time in conversation just to see how people react.

    Cindy November 30th, 2008 at 10:23 am


    it's powerful and rolls off the tongue.

    Brian November 30th, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Bullshit - It just cuts through so many other words.

    Although I would like the OED so I can learn some others.

    Chris November 30th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Favorite word: Cleave

    Took me some time to think of this but I like it because it is its own antonym, at the same time it means to stick together and to force apart. There are many words that have two very different definitions (sanguine, et al.) but I'm not aware of any that have two definitions that are the exact opposite.

    Md. Abdul Wahed Tomal November 30th, 2008 at 12:52 pm


    This word is the strangest because it works like a magic to create a good feelings for both the listener and the speaker. This word is most useful because it can solve any type of relationship problem, doesn't matter how big it is. And this word is ridiculously specific word in all of the English language because you can not think any other suitable and effective word when you want to be excused.

    Sorry is the word that gets stuck in my head like the song lyric :)

    Sorry is the word that I sing everyday
    Sorry is the word that helps us to keep the relationship everyday
    I don't know how to solve the problem any other way

    Amy G. November 30th, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    It is one of those words that, if used with a truly illiterate person, causes the situation to become hilarious, because they will not know what you are talking about.

    Pat November 30th, 2008 at 2:20 pm


    I heard it first in a college sociology class. Propinquity was used in the context of people being geographically near one another and the possibilities rising from such associations. If people don't meet, opportunities are limited or, at least, different. From its Latin origin, the word carries with it elements of kinship.

    For almost 40 years, I've been noticing the impact of chance meetings or the recognition people sometimes have upon encountering a kindred spirit.

    For me, propinquity means being in the right place at the right time and recognizing someone else who's there, too.

    Jacqueline Simonds November 30th, 2008 at 2:35 pm


    My elementary school librarian/advance reading teacher used it incessantly. This was back in the Sixties: she wore a mini-skirt and huge hoop earrings and wild necklaces. She'd say, "Ostentatious!" with such verve, such penache, such joy, you couldn't help but understand how she loved the word and lived it every day.

    Whenver I hear that word I think of her, and the library filled with neat books and talking about reading. A strange juxtaposition of feelings - but I love it!

    Len November 30th, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Pneumonoultrascopicsiliscovolcanoscoliosis When I was a 5th grade teacher in NY I would always use this word for extra credit in a spelling test.

    Debra Hamel November 30th, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Without a doubt, it's penultimate. It's the most underused handy word around. Why, pray, do we persist in using the ugly and overlong phrase "second to the last" when the word "penultimate" so perfectly says the same thing?

    Ethan November 30th, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Frenulum, (the web inbetween your tongue and the bottom of your mouth) ...... because I ripped mine chewing a way-too-big wad of gum, and when I showed my dentist at the next teeth cleaning, he insisted it was called a freenum... I knew I was right and I stuck to my knowledge and am proud that I taught a dentist something new about the mouth that he didn't know. (or at least clarified the pronunciation)

    scout November 30th, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    Many of its synonyms are lovely words as well, all full of boding and portents, but augur, with its undertow of pirate-speak, is the perfect word. I have never been in a social situation that didn't, eventually, invite the phrase, "It doesn't augur well..."

    ColanMitchell November 30th, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    The word is one that explains a challenge of mine since I was a child; lethologica, which is defines as a temporary inability to remember a proper noun or name. It is a psychiatric term I found in the Hinsie and Campbell "Psychiatric Dictionary". It took me 20 years to convince the doctors that I'm not just "absent minded" and that its a real problem I've had forever.

    I can't find it in my short OED so I'm hoping to win the full set and look it up to trace back the meaning.

    Creme Broulee November 30th, 2008 at 7:42 pm


    My husband tells me this is my favorite word and I would have to agree. Not because I am passively accepting his opinion--I only ACQUIESCE when I want to! What a beautiful sounding word though, just trips off the tongue and makes one sound educated......

    Jeffrey Fuller November 30th, 2008 at 8:50 pm


    Beauty's grandiloquent harmony
    is lost amongst the tangled roots,
    gnarled, twisted, wandering,
    as it traverses the mind.
    Beauty's sonorous tintinnabulation
    is coated and warmed in warts,
    scars, and too much flesh
    sagging over a lumpy skull.
    Beauty's canonical melody
    is an assumed obloquy,
    a misunderstanding
    of his fustian vocabulary.
    The word pulchritudinous sounds horribly insulting, but its meaning is nothing shy of a magnanimous compliment. Okay, so magnanimous is probably a bit strong, but just a bit. I first learned this word while working on a poem in the late '90s and have enjoyed it ever since. In sound versus meaning it is oxymoronic, making it all the more fun to use. Finally, I am oddly attracted to the words ridiculous length and syllable count. Then again, what word nut isn't?

    Kit November 30th, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    My favorite word in the English language is YES. Nothing sounds better than hearing that word =)

    Heidi November 30th, 2008 at 9:11 pm


    It is a fabulous old word that sounds nothing like what it means

    Julia November 30th, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    "Sludge", because I like words that sound like what they are, and "sludge" is practically onomatopoeia.

    Lorraine Lee Tuason November 30th, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Happiness, because that's what we all want don't we?

    GreyStork November 30th, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Pycnic - mostly because it allows me to make fun of people in two ways with one word. :)

    Serge Danielson-Francois December 1st, 2008 at 4:25 am

    My favorite word is gruntled. "Gruntled" is the perfect response to the question "How are you doin'?" The word means pleased, contented and grumbling, complaining. Best way to hedge your bet.

    David Sloan December 1st, 2008 at 6:41 am


    I've been using this word for about 40 years, so it's a bit disheartening to see it become trendy recently. It was my "little secret word" for so long. When I use it in conversation, it always gets a chuckle, then a "what is that?" The first time I remember seeing it done in a movie was in a scene from The Man Who Fell To Earth starring David Bowie. The first time the henchmen heave the victim toward the window he bounces off and falls to the floor, and the guy says "sorry." Classic! Unfortunately for him, they try again, and succeed in the defenestration.

    Anne December 1st, 2008 at 7:59 am


    First, when saying the word, it sounds like someone is expectorating or sneezing. Thus I'm tempted to respond by patting someone on the back or uttering "gesundheit". I was surprised that this word was a synonym for beauty. Most of the words that convey beauty seem relatively euphonious to pulchritude.

    PA Schaefer December 1st, 2008 at 8:33 am


    One meaning is to settle something, such as a debt, and another is to cease activity, especially due to death. The juxtaposition of those two ideas makes a poetic statement about life, as if life is something borrowed that we must one day pay back.

    Suzanne H December 1st, 2008 at 9:19 am


    I love the changes that I have seen for this word in my lifetime. As a young child my grandparents used it for odd. At St. Robert Catholic school in 1979 it was a taunt boys thew at each other. In 1983 it became a label of death. Since then it has become a word of Pride. Who knew that a word that I loved to cursive write because of the capital Q would stay a part of my consciousness over a lifetime.

    Samantha December 1st, 2008 at 9:33 am

    I first encountered this word reading The Three Musketeers. This word initiated my love of words. Due to this fascination with the word I discovered etymology. And due to 'lugubrious' I always have a dictionary on hand. The definition of the word never influenced my cheery outlook, but every once in a while there is no other word to fill the space.

    Sara December 1st, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I always like 'ambivalent', because people don't usually use it correctly. They think it means 'I don't really care', when it actually means 'uncertain or unable to decide about what course to follow', or 'to be of two minds about a topic'.

    ken December 1st, 2008 at 9:59 am

    I play with words in some of my poetry. One class of word that I use is words that mean their own opposite like CLEAVE:

    We didn’t notice that our island was split
    In two
    By a fault line.
    All our faults, lined up before us;
    All our faults, crammed into our cocoons
    So no one could find them,
    So no one could fault us
    For not toeing the line.
    Our cleaving to all our faults
    Caused the fault to cleave our island in two
    That Sunday in High School.

    KK Koufax December 1st, 2008 at 10:56 am


    Not being an astronomer, I seldom have the opportunity to use my favorite word, syzygy (a rare alignment of three celestial bodies, usually referring to the sun-earth-moon). Wikipedia observes that it is the shortest word containing three y's and one of the three shortest modern words without a,e,i,o, or u (rhythms and rhythm being the others).

    But that's not why I like it. I don't care what it means; I love the way it looks, so symmetrical, with three tails hanging beneath the line like monkeys on a branch.

    And I like the way it rolls trippingly off the tongue. Say it over and over and relish it: syzygy, syzygy, syzygy.

    If I had a daughter, I'd name her Syzygy and toast her with this:

    Who is Cyzygy, what is she,
    That makes me never doubt her?
    Earth, and moon, and sun is she
    And I can't live without her.

    Tiffany Campbell December 1st, 2008 at 11:29 am

    I love this word and think that it is not used enough. It so succinctly describes the state of being in-between. A period of discontinuity of a government, organization, or social order. I use it at work all the time example: What are we going to do in the interregnum before the board meets?

    Joseph Campbell December 1st, 2008 at 11:52 am


    This word has to be the most misused word in the English language. If you turn on any news program you are bound to hear it once and always used in lieu of the correct word, figuratively. Poor figuratively gets under used while literally is used with careless abandon.

    If the President-elect literally read this entry,he would figuratively jump over the moon and give it a blue ribbon.

    Michael B. Klein December 1st, 2008 at 12:31 pm


    Because who doesn't love pie?

    Pat Justis December 1st, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I am a little daunted by how many of you like to speak of throwing others through the window,(defenestrate) but do feel I have found my tribe of like-minded language adoring zealots.

    Difficult to pick just one word but I vote for...mercy because the meaning is so pithy; "to show more kindness than justice requires."

    My second choice is pithy because it feels good in my mouth,amuses most people, feels quirky and rebellious yet relevant.

    Maureen December 1st, 2008 at 1:46 pm


    When I was an undergraduate (oh, so many years ago) words popped up as fads amongst the faculty. This was one of my very favorite fad words. It sounds wonderful as it rolls off the tongue. And I love the OED's definition: That exceeds what is sufficient; of which there is more than enough; excessively abundant or numerous. Excessively abundant! I love it...

    peter December 1st, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    usufruct-- I try to slip it into nearly every sentence.

    Mark December 1st, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Syzygy - just because I like the meaning and it's simply cool looking...

    MarkMark again December 1st, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Holy cow! (No not my words). I typed in "my" word then started reading the previous posts. "My" word is only a couple away from KK Koufax who has the same word love. Go figure!

    Lisa December 1st, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Privy, it's the sharing of a secret AND an outhouse!

    Judy Bradley December 1st, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    I was gong to say, "complicated", because it takes in so much without explaining much, but then you said a word we use and seem to be obsessive with almost. That word would be, "certainly". I certainly have no idea why I use it so much, just that I certainly do! One of my sons says it sounds pretentious. It certainly does, I agree with him. So why do I use it? I certainly do not want to seem pretentious. But one thing is certain, I would certainly LOVE to win this lovely set of books!!

    Lyza Gardner December 1st, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Easy. "Food coma." That's because it's a word that I helped to get into the Oxford English Dictionary, and, by extension, accepted as a word in the English language. Although "Food coma" is not in the printed edition, you can find it in online versions of the OED, including that accessible via the Multnomah County Library's Web site (free if you have a library card number).

    “food coma n. U.S. a lethargic state induced by eating, esp. a large quantity of (freq. rich or unhealthy) food.”

    Ironically, considering how obsessed I am with the OED, and how I actually made an impact therein, I am far too cash-strapped to afford the full edition. You have no idea how much I want this set.

    You can read more about my OED food coma story on my blog here:

    My favorite word that is actually printed in the book version of the OED is "quaquaversal," “[d]ipping, pointing, or occurring in every direction.” That is, in case the word I choose has to be in the extant dictionary itself to count. I like the term because I would like to stand on a point quaquaversal to the known universe and watch everything just go by and occur beneath me. I think it would be a nice vantage.

    T Pierce December 1st, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Coprophagous. Why? By the time they figure out what coprophagous algae means, I am out of reach.


    Bob Miller in Louisville KY December 1st, 2008 at 2:26 pm


    the event of fading and gradually vanishing from sight; "the evanescence of the morning mist"

    I admire all of the recommendations so far and do not wish to compete with them. Instead, as a grateful recipient of the gift of the English language, I offer this word to join theirs. It describes what is happening to my memories of a now deceased friend. Upon hearing the news of a big promotion for me, she advised that the key to success in business was to "keep a dictionary and a bible on your desk and refer to each of them daily." Thanks to Powells for the opportunity to share this memory.

    Mike Danger December 1st, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia. The fear of long words itself being a long word is some delicious irony.

    Second place: "delenda" (material to be deleted or destroyed). It's got a good sound, and you can figure out what it means from "delete".

    Cynthia B. December 1st, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    discombobulated - how could you NOT love that word? It's just so silly! There is one "word" that makes me want to hurt things and I am starting to hear it more and more - that is...the word (gad! my teeth are grinding as I type it..) is "obsoleted". There! Now go back to my happy place...Discombobulated! Discombobulated!

    chco98 December 1st, 2008 at 2:37 pm


    My favorite word is qued. My wife and I were playing Scrabble one day and each of us were down to our last
    tiles. I had Q, E, D left. I was sweating bullets as Q is a high point letter and if I got stuck with it I
    would lose the game. I found a lonely U on the board, thought QUED looked like a good fake word, and since I
    figured I was screwed anyway, I placed my tiles. My wife immediately challenged me. We brought out our
    dictionary and lo and behold! qued was in the dictionary. It was listed as either an archaic or obsolete word meaning bad or evil, which is what my wife was calling me for several days after the game: qued.

    Todd December 1st, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Cockahoop (var. cock-a-hoop).

    The fact that, according to some dictionaries, it can mean both "triumphantly boastful" and "gone awry" shows that it is a pleasingly complex word.

    The fact that it occasionally sports archaic hyphens shows that it, while quirky (to American ears), it has been around long enough.

    And the fact that other dictionaries cite its etymology as coming from the phrase "to set cock a hoop" demonstrates that I need a better dictionary so I can figure out what the hell that means.

    Steve December 1st, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    ataraxia: a state of serene calmness (and the highest good of classical Epicureanism).

    It's something that I seem to have been searching for all of my life -- and something that seems to continually elude me. And, I'm partial to words from the Greek.

    A close second: defenestration.

    iris johanskd December 1st, 2008 at 2:47 pm


    so much better tan hurrah or amen

    Scott Harrison December 1st, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Circumluminator:noun, a light fixture that encircles it's subject with light, primarily for the purpose of illuminating the subject without shadows.

    You won't find this word in the dictionary just yet because I invented it in 2003 to name another invention of mine, a light fixture purpose built for illuminating a dartboard without casting shadows around darts as they are thrown and stick in the dartboard.

    This may seem to many an odd name for a not very useful thing, but fifty million or so fellow humans play at darts, now recognized as a sport in England. And to them, shadow-free illumination is a thing much to be desired. Both the British Darts Organisation and The American Darts Organization publish weighty rules which include a paragraph on Lighting. Although the language differs between organizations, the primary thrust of both sets of rules exhorts use of lighting that minimizes shadows cast by thrown darts.

    I anticipate that within ten years The Circumluminator will be in use by most darts players, whatever their numbers are in that not so distant time, and that The Oxford English Dictionary, published as it is in the country that is more the home of darts than any other, will be needing to add the name to its list or recognized words.

    I therefore respectfully submit Circumluminator as a candidate for the Powell's Prize.

    A. G. Johnson December 1st, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    ...a product of disintegration, destruction, or wearing away...
    Yeah, sounds very Black Metal and dark and I like that about a word.

    Luigi December 1st, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    Only Because people usually put it in the wrong place in a sentence. I never correct them, but quietly point out the error to my kids. Example: "I only have eyes for you" is incorrect. What the singer means is "I have eyes only for you." Not as rhythmical, I concede, but that's not so important for wordsmiths.

    Jim December 1st, 2008 at 2:53 pm


    It just sounds like what it means.

    Barb Beilke December 1st, 2008 at 2:54 pm


    old english word, very small or thin items. just sounds better than fetzins or schnibbles.

    iris johanskd December 1st, 2008 at 2:54 pm


    so much better than hurrah or amen

    Prune Wickart December 1st, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    USer -- a person of the United States; an "American", as differentiated from residents of other nations in North and South America. It also gives a (wink and a) nod to our status as the world's most consumptive nation.

    Ray December 1st, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    "marginicidal," defined by the OED as "Designating dehiscence in which the septa break away from the united margins of the carpels." I love this word in particular, for nearly every word in its definition is as opaque in meaning as 'marginicidal' itself, and the definitions of these words refer back to the same set of untranslateable citations, creating a closed garden world from which the petals of meaning can be plucked from none of the flowers. Besides, the meaning of 'marginicidal' should be clear enough from its form: The butter did it!

    Todd December 1st, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    LEXICON: It is the word of words...the gatekeeper.

    KateeeKate December 1st, 2008 at 3:03 pm


    Because living in the Pacific NW I need all the brilliance I can find.

    R. Emrys December 1st, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    My favorite English word is an Old English word: wordhoard. Your wordhoard is your vocabulary, all the language you have available to express your internal treasures (or dross). I like the image of a dragon crouched possessively over a pile of individual, jewel-perfect ways to describe each unique concept. You could string them on a chain like sparkling beads to get a necklace, or a novel.

    A dictionary, of course, is also a wordhoard. Whenever I go to look something up, I end up sifting through the next-door definitions and reading the particularly interesting ones aloud. The etymological inserts are even better: words that go deep, built on a foundation of old meanings, each adding a facet to the jewel.

    Adam M Krause December 1st, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Stercoraceous is a very refined and snooty sounding word with a very unrefined and silly meaning. Coming from the Latin word for feces, it simply means "being or resembling poop". It's a perfect favorite word for every well-read and annoyingly precocious class clown.

    JG December 1st, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    onomatopoeia - hard to spell, fun to say, and sounds like something fun. I thought it was so cool as a kid that there was a word that described what all those "whizz," "bang," "thump," and "clang" words were.

    Love it.

    Joyce Carpes December 1st, 2008 at 3:10 pm


    A simple little word that mean everything existing in the universe or not. All can be everything, can be vague but it also can be very restrictive and make something unique. Just like when they say "All you need is love" and "Love is all you need".
    All right, and you are pleased. All is perfect.

    aalienx December 1st, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    PEACE is my favourite word.
    Everybody in the world is talking about it, and it's the most important thing that all humanity need.In my language we say it everyday.It's a greeting "peace be upon you" is like hi or hello in English.All that I want is that everybody Muslim,christian,Jew,Buddhist or any other race or religion could live in peace.

    JC December 1st, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Ludicrous. Because it perfectly describes feeling as though you NEED the 20-volume Oxford Dictionary.

    Judith December 1st, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    Because it applies to a lot of language, and it rolls off the tongue. And reminds me of trying to learn (almost even better) words like "properispomenon", because having those words in our word hoard would "avoid laborious periphrasis". Thank you, Chase and Phillips; thank you and in memoriam, William T. McKibben.

    Jes December 1st, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    A word derived from one of the best books ever written.

    JJamesJames December 1st, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    I have to put up "whiskey" as my favorite word du jour. It is one of the few words in common English to have come from Gaelic origins - uisce (pronounced "weesh-ka")- from usice bhatha - water of life. My parents came to the U.S. in the 1950's from Ireland via England and Canada. Although they were not drinkers themselves, I have this memory of being in the west of Ireland, County mayo specifically, during my late teens and visiting friends/relatives. It was customary to give a visitor a shot of whiskey as a welcome. Although I didn't drink much as a teenager, that was my official introduction to alcohol beyond beer. Let's just say I was socially-lubricated and more gregarious with each visit from cousin to cousin. As a member of an Irish band - Poitin and Stout - I'm always open to a shot of Jameson's as a rehearsal kick-off. Even the sound of it -whiskey - can make you think of being "whisked away" to the land my parents, now departed, came from. Slainte!

    Elizebeth December 1st, 2008 at 3:29 pm


    I love the Anglo-Saxon monosyllables: kerf, gley, dusk, brine, bosk. They're as brief and strong as the thrust of a spade, and they smell of earth and wood and sky.

    eeve December 1st, 2008 at 3:38 pm


    Because it is the opposite of onomatopoeia; a grand impressive word for a small wretched thing, an urchin peeking smudgily at the world from wind-blown rags. And because of the way the stress falls on the "ma" syllable so nicely.

    Ira December 1st, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Pompatous (also spelled pompitous) - yes from the old Steve Miller song, The Joker – as in "pompatus of love". It’s a made up word that doesn’t mean anything, or it can mean anything one wants it to mean. Everyone’s heard it, and everyone thinks they know what it is, but asking 10 people would probably come up with 10 definitions – and all of them would be right.

    Kate December 1st, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Gloaming. It means exactly what it should mean. Cool word.

    Stu December 1st, 2008 at 3:46 pm


    Because I needed a word that describes the feeling of my mind at 3 am wrestling with threads of imagination that will not be quiet, and I found this fine word with a Greek root, which lets me tell my super-enthusiastic subconscious problem-solver to stop being so erethic. It doesn't listen (so much to solve! Hey what about this idea!), but the word itself serves as a quiet mantra that tails off at the end, with round edges that remind me of sheep leaping over fences.

    Tim December 1st, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    I have to go with bailout. It just sounds so much better than "the socialization of corporate debt."

    Paul Matheson December 1st, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    I know it is not sophisticated and does not honor the language, but I love saying it. Pickle is a silly word. For some strange reason whenever I say (or yell) 'pickle', it makes me happy and makes my wife question my sanity.

    Madam Pince December 1st, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Amongst. I prefer it to the more mundane "among" because the two added letters imply a far more expansive meaning. I see "amongst" as floating, not earthbound like the shorter term.

    Donna Marton December 1st, 2008 at 3:58 pm


    It is an equal opportunity word, useful for all sexes, ages, as a more genteel way of saying: "What a crabby old fart." I describe myself in this manner often, lol!

    Peter Ekegren December 1st, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Serendipity, which is what makes life worth living!

    Alexander December 1st, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Gay. Because it doesn't mean what you think it means. Yet it does.

    Ron Breznay December 1st, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Scintillating. I just sounds so ... scintillating. I could almost hear tiny bells ringing and see shimmering sparkles whenever I say or think of that word.

    EE Emma M. December 1st, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    FLUFFY! I like the word fluffy because it is fun to say. Some of my favorite foods are fluffy. Some of my favorite clothes are fluffy, too!
    Emma 8 years old

    Jeremy December 1st, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Empurpeled. My current fav cause it's awesome. I mean to turn purple from rage, cmon.

    Dean Thoreau December 1st, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    ensanguine...lovely word i cant help saying it. I even painted the house trim a lovely ensanguine.

    Emily December 1st, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    SIMULTANEOUSLY! What better word is there that means the same thing as "at the same time." How awesome to sum up that thought "at the same time" in merely ONE word!! Although they have about the same number of letters, the fact that SIMULTANEOUSLY is so much cooler because it is one word. I just have this fascination with this word and I tell people randomly that it is my favorite word.

    Marilyn December 1st, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Serendipity is by far my favorite word. I don't recall the occasion whereby I learned the meaning of this wonderful word but I rather tend to think the meaning came clearly to me in a book I was reading. Having been a child brought up to revere gifts of heavenly grace, I find this word such a lovely reminder of the unexpected beneficence of the Great Spirits of the Universe. I receive so much pleasure simply seeing this word. It serves as a reminder that someone has been blessed and thus also that serendipitous occurrences are indeed possible for any and all of us.

    Angela December 1st, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Because it draws you in. It sounds like what it is.

    Chris Haight December 1st, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    animadversion: wonderfully evocative, I think. Originally meant to direct the attention to, but came to refer to negative criticism. How could I not love a word that has an anima, a mad, an advers, and a version in it? A chock-full and lovely though harsh word.

    TomT TOM December 1st, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Syzigy- a word I first ran across in Jungian psychology. It means paired opposites that compliment each other and can define a balance.

    Jim Collins December 1st, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    fremitus. There aren't enough words whose meaning can be so directly, wonderfully shared with a sense other than our hearing.

    Chris December 1st, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    NEMESIS. I've always wanted a nemesis.

    NancyNancy Bennison December 1st, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    "Sesquipedalian" has always been a favorite of mine. Sesqui means one and a half. Ped is foot. So sesquipedalian refers to words that are a foot and a half long--or to people who use polysyllabic words.

    Wayne December 1st, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    What a ridiculous word. Examples:
    Mom to toddler: What do you want for snack?
    Wife to husband: Are you snacking?
    Husband to wife: We are out of snacks.
    At our house it is said several times a day:
    Snack. Snack. Snack.
    Pretty soon it loses its meaning and becomes a silly sound.
    If I could get rid of snack, I would stop obsessing about it, but it even has its own grocery aisle.

    skye darkness mccloud December 1st, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    the act of throwing something [esp. a person] out the window....

    this is the word of the era...
    living in a world where the only honest truthful loving action of any value is to self examine all the wealth of so-called education/'wisdom' that has been gifted well as the attending culture/cultural objects/icons...and formally expell the majority of them out an appropriate portal...

    live the the dream....
    all else....

    bring on the Dictionary!!!!!

    majk & blessings & the whimsy of the incurables,

    Rachel December 1st, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Sauvignon blanc. I know it's not a single word, but it goes together, and I consider it a compound word. I just think it sounds beautiful, and it makes me sound cultured among the Kansans here. :)

    Keith December 1st, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    If aa is a good word, how much better is 'a'a, low viscosity lava with a rough or rubbly surface. (rubbly is a good word, too!). It may seem too specific, but not to the Hawaiians, who have several words for different types of lava. Plus, it's so very evocative: take a look with your mind's eye and you can easily visualize someone running barefoot across a field of rubbly lava moaning: 'a'a, 'a'a.

    I have other words I'd like to use, too, but some of them have already been taken, and we're limited to one entry. So, these aren't my "official" choices, but I thought I'd also mention flotsam and jetsam (you never find one without its partner), sesquipedalian (see #98 above), and a word that ought to be adopted into English: angstschweiß (eight consecutive consonants! don't confuse it with angstlust).

    PaPa Pat December 1st, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    Love, the most overused and least understood word in the English language.

    Mstthew Locricchio December 1st, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    My word is motility. It is the act of moving or having the power to move spontaneously. We, the United States, are finally able to have motility and the potential for real change. It is a very happy new year.

    Tim M. December 1st, 2008 at 6:02 pm


    I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

    Nicole December 1st, 2008 at 6:08 pm


    When I was in high school, my favorite restaurant was this hometown Mexican place. I was there with my parents once, and I told my mom that I loved the restaurant for more than just the food. I started to say that it was the atmosphere, but before I could get the word 'atmosphere' out, Mom said, "It's the ambience." It was the first time I had heard the word. I asked her what it meant. Once she told me, I never used the word 'atmosphere' again. I just love that word!

    aaaRN Arn Pressner December 1st, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    The word "sundered" has such an onomatopeic flair to it that I adore it. It is a word that breathes power and destruction, yet does so in such an elegant format that one can virtually sense the Phoenix rising from the ashes of its destruction. One senses stars going nova, castles in flames and worlds cleft in half loomimg beyond its reach. At the same time, it carries a hint of the primitive, the barbarian swordsman cleaving his enemy in half with an enormous broadsword. Summing up,the word is a talisman of power accented in numinous beauty.

    WAlter Weary December 1st, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Navel gazer, a person who contemplates their navel.That activity that follows the completion of a good novel or immediately precedes the hour that one completes his/her shift at work.

    Zachary Hyde December 1st, 2008 at 6:51 pm


    I was walking down the street the other day, and some dude was gabbing to his friend about a discrepancy in their numbers. My absent mind got to doing its thing, and I came to wonder if the 'dis-' in that word means 'without', and--by implication--if 'crepancy' means something like agreement or accord.

    I don't know if it was that five-and-a-half years of public university that my dad bought me, or all the books my mom read me when I was a child, but usually I can come up with a plausible root word for an English word derived from Greek or Latin, and I can usually come up with some other contemporary English words derived from the same root just to help get my head around the meaning of it. "Discredit"? Well, you got "dis-", and then there is "credit." Credit has something to do with assigning value to something in an abstract, non-inherent way, right? So, there's "credence" and "incredible", both probably from the same root.

    I was trying to apply this logic to "discrepancy" and coming up blank. Wow, what a word! It sounds so obviously Latin, but once you parse off that "dis-" you're not left with much: "-crepancy", which possible becomes "crepant", "crepere", "crepatare?" Now I'm reaching.

    I'm a Webster's 2nd boy, myself. So I looked it up.

    I think it's neat that the dictionary does give "discrepant" as a word. But let's focus on discrepancy.

    dis-crep'an-cy, n., [OFr. discrepance; L. discrepantia, discordance, disagreement, from discrepare, to sound differently.]

    Okay, that's pretty cool. With discord and sound being mentioned, it seems to have something to do with what you hear, in its original meaning. But I was surprised that the dictionary didn't split off that "dis-" prefix, and give a comment on what I presume to be the root, something along the lines of "crepare." So, naturally, I went and looked up that string.

    Sure enough, "crepance" is in the dictionary. You will never guess what it means. A crepance is a wound in a horse's leg.

    Okay, now I'm going nuts. How can a wound have anything to do with two sets of numbers not lining up? Well, let's look at that crepance definition a little more closely:

    cre'-pance n. [L. crepare to crack, burst.] a wound in a horse's leg, caused by interfering.

    Now, that's interesting. I could reconcile a "crack" or a "burst" with a discrepancy somehow. But that wounded horse's leg throws me for a loop. I figure maybe I can find something like "crepare" in the dictionary that might shed more light on the whole subject.

    I found the following:

    crep'i-tant a. [L. crepitans (-antis), ppr. of crepitare, to rattle.] rattling; crackling.

    crep'i-tate, v.i.; [L. crepitatus, pp. of crepitare, to rattle, freq. of crepare, to creak, burst.] to crackle; to make small, sharp, and repeated crackling sounds.

    Now this makes things get real interesting. I'm not going in alphabetical order, but the dictionary also contains the following:

    crepe n. [Fr. crepe, from L. crispa, curled, crisp.] 1. A thin, wrinkled cloth of silk, rayon, cotton, wool, etc.; crape. 2. a piece of black crepe worn as a sign of morning. 3. Thin paper crinkled like crepe.

    crep-i-tac'u-lum, n; [L., a rattle, from crepitare, freq. of crepare, to creak.] in zoology, a rattle-like organ, as of the rattlesnake.

    crep-i-ta'tion, n. 1. a crackling. 2. in medicine, (a) the grating of fractured bones when moved; (b) an abnormal rattling sound detected in the lungs [] usually indicating a diseased condition.

    If you pause, while ascending the creaky stairs, and clutch the crepe curtain, because the death-rattle of the aging dowager reminds you of the venomous strike of the poisonous snake, you are, apparently, surrounded by crepitation.

    But, lest we digress, what does it all have to do with discrepancy? Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Unabridged, Second Edition, doesn't do much more than what I've already shared with you to address that question. So we must piece it together ourselves, dear reader. If crepitate means some kind of crackling, rattling sound--like the sound associated with broken bones--and discrepancy means, in a way familiar to you and I--an apparent contradiction in what two different sources of information signify, then discrepant could well describe any pair of sounds that signify different things.

    Keeping it as close to the original meaning as I can, we can imagine a maladroit Geiger-counter being used alongside a reliable one. The two instruments would be discrepant. Let's do one better. If a clerk in an airport told you that your plane was boarding at gate C-1 while the overhead speaker crackled out the news that the same flight were boarding at gate D-9, that would be discrepant. Perhaps most simply, if the gentleman selling you the horse claims that the beast is in full health, while the horse's leg cracks like a machine-gun under the evident cast, there is certainly a discrepancy.

    I am not a linguist, nor a scholar of dead Romance languages. So, I could be all wrong. But this is the stuff I like to think about.

    Michael Sinclair December 1st, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    administrivia: A word that should be in the dictionary for all the paper work that is created, needlessly, I might add.

    Jill December 1st, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    because there is beauty and poetry in the shadow

    M. Larsen December 1st, 2008 at 7:07 pm


    i like the way it rolls off my tongue, and i like the notion of proportional response... and i like the OED! *crosses-fingers*

    tehanu December 1st, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    "specificity"--it's just fun to say!

    Gracie December 1st, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    I'm torn between paracme (the point at which one's prime is past) and garlicky (relating to or tasting or smelling of garlic, of course).
    The former is one of the saddest words I can imagine while the latter summons up the taste and fragrance and sheer finger-licking goodness of that magical food. Really, doesn't the word garlicky make you want to dip your fingers or a french fry into some aioli?
    Oh all right, I'll choose: paracme. Surely the word doesn't apply to me.

    Charlie December 1st, 2008 at 7:23 pm


    Because it almost defines itself.

    Robyn December 1st, 2008 at 7:57 pm


    When I was younger, for a long time I knew the word but not its meaning, and sometimes when I was falling asleep the word would just pop into my head: juxtaposition. I love the sound of it, and the absurdity of putting disparate things together to see what you get.

    christina j. December 1st, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    my favorite word is hope.
    it is a small and simple word that can mean the world to someone.
    it is not an obscure word that you need to look up and it is not reserved for verbose novels or complex textbooks.
    it is a word that represents a universal concept.
    when you feel as though you have nothing left, hope remains.

    Rich Monk December 1st, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Sesquipedalianistic, which loosely defines by example, "Using big words when little ones will suffice."

    Kent Mollohan December 1st, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    A, the start of much ado about something.

    Nikki December 1st, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    My favorite English word is...


    There's not actually a good reason for that. Mostly it sounds really unnecessary anywhere I use it, which is excellent.

    Ms.B December 1st, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Prosody - it's language alive: the rhythm, the cadence, the intonation, th' interpretation, the melody of inflection, the poetry in prose or the poetry itself, the song that is living language. Prosody is part finesse, part caress, our awakening of the written word.

    ZJ Gray December 1st, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    It's beyond onomatopoetic. Being "in the doldrums" is being in a place where no wind will fill your sails... Both melancholy and lyrical.

    RRiver M. December 1st, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    I vote for the word, "baboon." It has a two-syllable syncopation that makes my mouth dance. You have to kiss the air to say,"baboon," an act of bussing the world.

    James December 1st, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    jinx has always been my favorite word.
    Commonly conceived as 'bad' but is often enough 'good'. I love how, long into our scientific age and longer still (into the dotage of) our medieval age, people still feel chills and thrills when confronted with the oldest curse since perhaps 'the apple'.

    joan December 1st, 2008 at 10:35 pm


    My favorite word is 'why' , because response to the word is enlightening or funny or explanatory or critical.

    carlam December 1st, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    How do I choose just one word?

    Juked - because my favorite author Jim Butcher used it..


    Hijinks - because it is the only word in the English language with 3 doted letters in a row..

    JohnT. December 2nd, 2008 at 12:40 am

    this word works for me on so many levels: as a typographer and graphic designer, I appreciate that it has a beautiful arrangement of curvilinear forms punctuated by the rectilinear appearance of the 'd' and 'i'; as a classicist, I like that it harkens back to the emperor who followed Marcus Aurelius -- but was cut from entirely different cloth; as a phonologist, I love the mix of hard and fluid sounds; and as a semanticist, I like that this word can be used to express one of the essential elements that good architecture should achieve and that it also is the perfect word to express a loving heart and a prolific mind. The word 'commodious' is therefore the very embodiment of itself.

    Byron Grimes December 2nd, 2008 at 1:58 am


    In addition to its apprehensive connotation, it also means on the left side. Thus implying evil in lefties.

    Patch December 2nd, 2008 at 2:16 am


    Old English term defined as smooth and greasy in texture or appearance, or as revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality.

    Glenn December 2nd, 2008 at 4:43 am

    OBLIVIOUS - Partly because I can be oblivious sometimes. Partly because it sounds neat. Partly because if you are oblivious then you might not notice the word being used. Partly because of the old song (Aztec Camera?) by the same name.

    josh gruber December 2nd, 2008 at 5:37 am

    buffoon, because it applies across the board

    josh gruber December 2nd, 2008 at 5:39 am

    buffoon, because it applies across the board

    Katherine H. December 2nd, 2008 at 5:52 am

    I seldom have the chance to use "mellifluous," but how many words demonstrate their own meanings so beautifully? Mel-LIF-flu-ous...ah, yes. It's a grand and gorgeous word worth working into any conversation.

    Arturo December 2nd, 2008 at 7:09 am

    I am very fond of the word Callimammapygian, which means "having beautiful breasts and buttocks". I have a deep and reverent love of the poetry of the female form, and I find this word quite useful in tastefully complementing the ways in which the goddess archetype shines through lovely women, like my wife.

    Thierry FAURE December 2nd, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Why? If I had to choose a word from the english language I would say "jeopardy" My brother used to be an English teacher for 32 years and offered me many occasions to read and write english language. But it was in a medical text (by professor Jellife,an authority in pediatrics an tropical medicine) that I came across this word. beeing french by birth and culture I found in it middle age reminiscences and the influences of romance origine in English.
    But why this particular word thinking of "ordeal" as another possible choice.

    ConnieB December 2nd, 2008 at 7:19 am

    phlebotomize : I just learned this word last week when I went to give blood, where I saw the word
    'phlebotomist' in a job posting. I'd never seen it before. It has an interesting sound to it - all those consonants - and could conceivably be connected to vampires as well as hospital.

    Kris December 2nd, 2008 at 7:46 am

    talian 'chiaro' - light + 'scruro' - dark

    I love this word not only because learning it led me to see and understand art in a more en'light'ened way, but also because it opened my mind to a universe of subtleties, gradations and dichotomies.

    EriErinErin December 2nd, 2008 at 7:55 am

    Obganiate: to annoy by repeating over and over. As any mother will tell you, this is a skill that all children have. Since I learned the word it has gained household usage - from my 7 year old to my 12 year old. When they get TOO annoying I just say "Stop Obganiating!"

    Mike Little December 2nd, 2008 at 9:03 am

    tintinnabulation - I've liked this word since reading Poe's "The Bells" in grade school. It's a perfect example of onomatopoeia and just fun to say.

    goodglud December 2nd, 2008 at 9:04 am


    Lots of great words on this list! But my favorite is perseverate. What happens if you persevere and persevere and persevere in your efforts to do something, but you get nowhere because you are approaching the task the wrong way? Psychologists will say you are perseverating. If you will only "try another way," perseveration may give way to perseverance.

    Loyd Ganey December 2nd, 2008 at 9:20 am

    emulate: great sounding word, sounds dirty but is not, and has nothing to do with an emu though the word lays close by. To be emulated is an honor.

    Billy December 2nd, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Without a doubt it is "shenanigans" --Fun to say, perpetrate, or even witness.

    ㅏㅑㅏ Kim Yongkul December 2nd, 2008 at 10:05 am

    yollatango: I am not sure whether this word is listed on any dictionary. They say that the word was heard among the Mets' outfielders during the late 60's to early 70's. No one seems to know what this word means, but it sure sounds playful and full of jest.

    Bill Cameron December 2nd, 2008 at 10:08 am

    Defenestrate. To throw something out the window.

    I mean, c'mon, do we really need a word specifically for throwing something out the window? Yes, I say. Yes, we do.

    Richard Rochat December 2nd, 2008 at 10:22 am

    "Curmudgeon", I love this word because it seems so many of my thoughtful open minded and yes liberal friends and associates have developed into curmudgeons. They see it as a natural evolution thing, and when you say it "cur-mudgeon" it sounds so earthy and time relative.

    Kate December 2nd, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Ephemera. I love how it sounds, coming off my tongue. Soft. I love things that can be described as ephemera, how they say as much or more about the culture that created them than the lasting monuments do. I love how we erect museums and wander into expensive shops in which one can buy ephemera, when the Greek root of the word means "things lasting only a day".

    Mike K. December 2nd, 2008 at 10:38 am

    dichotomy, noun, from the Greek: a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities.

    As an art historian, my favorite period is late nineteenth century European painting, when what one could consider modern art began to rise forward, with many artists challenging the status quo. I love the word dichotomy, because in one word it can purposefully describe the contradictory qualities in a painting that often makes the painting modern, or I often use the word to compare two works by different artists (to distinguish whose is avant-garde). I have also used the word to describe two works by the same artist, to show the breadth and progress of their work.

    Pam December 2nd, 2008 at 11:06 am


    Perhaps because I am a milquetoast in any contentious situation. Or perhaps I just love the sound you have to make with your tongue to say it. Mostly because it makes physical violence sound just so silly!

    Larry C. December 2nd, 2008 at 11:58 am

    It sounds naughty, but it's not. It's just a ridiculously specific word meaning to
    "to paint (the face) with cosmetics." Lots of fun to share at gatherings!

    anacoluthon December 2nd, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    chicory. it's all about the beauty of the word. michael ondaatje has a poem, or maybe it's one of the hybrid pieces in _the collected works of billy the kid_, that first got me thinking about the loveliness of the word. chicory.

    dann December 2nd, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    duende: an unusual power to attract or charm, which happens to be possessed by the word itself.

    dannrjn December 2nd, 2008 at 1:08 pm

    ubiquitous. it rolls off the tongue so well. and it's useful. and much more fun than saying "everywhere".

    LeAnnLeAnn Smith December 2nd, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Sesquipedalian: characterized by the use of long words. Many of my friends' comments are sesquipedalian; having an OED would help me keep up. It's also a lot of fun to say, and livens up meetings at work.

    LeAnn December 2nd, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    Oops - the Gravitar icon got in the way of my name - not trying to be sesquipedalian, or anything.

    Michael December 2nd, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    poppycock,  [pop-ee-kok]

    A general access password was used for various "read-only" files at my work and when I was informed of it, I laughed hysterically. To be honest, my mind went directly into the gutter and only after looking up the definition of the word was my laughter subdued. It means "nonsense" or "senseless talk." Its etymology can be traced to 19th Century Dutch dialect, "pappekak" (pappe), meaning "soft dung."

    I still chuckle when I enter the password.

    JP December 2nd, 2008 at 1:41 pm


    my favorite part of the day to spend with cicadas, without mosquitos. it happened in threes.

    James December 2nd, 2008 at 2:09 pm


    A completely underused word. We just don't hear it enough. A significant increase in the usage of this word will solve most of the world's problems.

    The word "No" is poetic in its brevity and potency; intimidating in its varied uses. It can be curt: NO. It can be soft and reassuring: No... It can be horrifying and terrible: Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!

    Its antonym ain't bad either.

    No is the greatest, and my favorite, word.

    dcfox December 2nd, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    oxymoron-- i've loved the sound of this word since i first heard it in an SAT/ACT review in 12th grade. and i love the idea, one of my favorite examples is still the one the teacher in that English class gave [thanks Mrs. Webb for that and so much more]: military intelligence. or there's Microsoft Works, random order, fresh frozen.
    plus i often feel life is oxymoronic.

    SjjjjjjjjjjjjSTBraverman December 2nd, 2008 at 3:22 pm


    This word fires up my imagination, gooses my creativity, and just plain tickles my funny bone. Its SQ (snicker quotient) is pretty much near the high end of my personal hilarity scale.

    I see this word and I grin; I hear it and I laugh; I utter it and I chortle. The pictures this word evokes inspire me (mentally, anyway) to scale the heights or descend to the depths of that elusive and subjective quality known as humor, with each subsequent image or interpretation a bit more ludicrous or far-fetched than the preceding one.

    Face it: absquatulate simply sounds titillating and perhaps a bit ribald, suggesting an unlimited array of possible activities or behaviors whose qualities may not necessarily reflect the official dictionary definition. Forget the prefix and suffix; what comes to mind when you hear the word squat? Yup. ‘Nuff said.

    Peter December 2nd, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Fumphering (fumbling around). I like use this word because it's "the better F-word." Onomatopoeia rules!

    Barrett December 2nd, 2008 at 3:48 pm


    A guttural Old English sound meets death/curse/downfall in a word that can barely be used outside the melodramatic "bane of my existence!" rendering the word very nearly useless. Traces of it flitter about in lore where wolfsbane and hensbane are concerned, and it all becomes something mystical and unknown, meanwhile hard, harsh and physical.

    Jason Baron December 2nd, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Hirsute - means "hairy"

    I like that it sort of sounds like "hair suit."

    AmyAmy December 2nd, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    Valise, because a suitcase holds clothes, but a valise is packed with style!

    I first learned this word as a kid from an Adam Ant song, and used it exclusivly instead of suitcase for years in order to drive my mother crazy. Just so you know, Adam kept a whip in his valise.

    CarolCarol December 2nd, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    I have never forgotten how excited I was when in the sixth grade (this would have been either 1959 or 1960) I discovered quite by chance that the word I was pronouncing in my head "hor d or", was actually this wonderfully impossible to spell word. It remains a favorite as it reminds me how serendipitous life and French spelling can be.
    This is by far the strangest word to me. It tries to put in word form what cannot be understood by the human mind.

    c4studio December 2nd, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Sidereal - it implies something beyond what it is.
    From Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel":
    "Eugene, who had no talent for parties, cruised through sidereal space with monentary anchorings to earth."

    magnetic_poet December 2nd, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    jones, v. As in, "to jones" for something. I'm fascinated that a person's last name could ultimately come to mean that you want something really REALLY badly. What did that man/woman do to get his/her last name into a verb?

    Suresh December 2nd, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    serendipity - because it derives from the old, old romantic name for Sri Lanka and means "island". It also out-romantics the old romantic name for the same country, namely Ceylon.

    StephW December 2nd, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    soliloquy- this was the word that lost me the spelling bee in 5th grade. I saw the correct spelling in my head but I just couldn't believe that "-quy" was the correct ending. As soon as I was told I was wrong, I left the auditorium and immediately went to the OED in the library and looked it up. I haven't misspelled it since.

    JLJ December 2nd, 2008 at 8:10 pm

    My favorite word presently is 'truculent.'

    Sometimes, when my child looks at me in a certain way, I feel certain she should have a t-shirt with that word (when it means 'belligerent'--another great word) on it. (My love for her might be influencing my love of the word just a bit.)

    I love its etymology as well, its Latin roots. But what I like the best, really, is the way the consonants work together to make the word to create an onomatopoeic sort of sound.

    Truculent sounds truculent.

    Ayse December 2nd, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Cryptoendolithic. Means "hidden inside of rocks," and is used to describe certain small organisms. I love the idea that rather than just describe an organism as hiding inside rocks, we have a whole word to do the job.

    eugenia pakalik December 2nd, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    well I'm rather found of plethora, because in high school our principal used it one morning during the PA announcements that followed the pledge and the star spangled banner. He said "plethora, you know that means lots and lots". Hence telling all about 3000 of us that he felt we could in no way have known what it meant.

    However, I have to settle on dreadlocks. Over the many years I have sold dictionaries, folks would always come and ask which one was best. Ah such a personal thing, so I came up with telling folks to look up a word in several dictionaries and see how it is defined. I always look up dreadlocks.
    It is a good word to see how it is defined. Over the years I have sold a lot of dictionaries with dreadlocks, and well back about 15 years ago a very nice number of complete OEDs.

    Claire December 2nd, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    My favorite word is "sesquipedalian."

    Not only does it sound completely absurd, it has often proved exceedingly useful, since I am frequently accused of being a vocabulary snob. The only appropriate response is, naturally, "Oh, I do apologize if my sesquipedalian tendencies aggravate you," which is ironic enough to lighten the tension.

    It also serves to trump any and all other words offered up in discussions of, "Hey, have you ever heard the word uxorious?" "Oh yeah? Well, I know THIS word, which is way cooler: trichotillomanic!" "Nuh uh. 'Sesquipedalian' is where it's at."

    (Yes, my friends and I have this kind of conversation.)

    Another of my favorite words is "hinky," but I don't use it much. It traumatizes people.

    brad willett December 2nd, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    How it's pronounced. Its definition. The thing itself.
    All unexpected.

    Leo December 2nd, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    I can't get over how fantastic this word is to say. I have yet to encounter anything like it in English or any other language!

    brad willett December 2nd, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    And should I win, this single word would describe the OED.

    Morgan Rose December 2nd, 2008 at 11:47 pm my absolute favorite word and I will go out of my way to use it, even when it is rather inappropriate.
    It means, basically, a nosebleed.
    I treat canine and feline epistaxis at least once a month, typically due to trauma or tumors.
    However, my favorite thing is to drop the word epistaxis in a social situation-a party, family reunion, etc. For example, "Hey Uncle Tommy, that deer you shot has quite a bit of epistaxis going on. Probably shouldn't have shot it in the head."
    I also love using any scientific or medical terminology that I can in normal conversation. Yes, I love being the awkward girl with the poor social skills that likes to point out that you not only have sphincters in your bum, but also in your eyes and urinary tract, among many other sphincterized locales in the body.
    That should be a new word, "sphincterized". Yep.

    DeniseB December 3rd, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Hey Zachery Hyde, just an FYI - I did not look this up but the medical community uses the word "crepitus" when a patient has an airleak under the skin (around an incision, wound, chest tube insertion.) When you push on it, it sounds and feels like Rice Krispies! Unless you are the person that has it, it is totally cool! (nurse's are sick people)

    hhhhhhhichem December 3rd, 2008 at 2:32 am

    remonstration !!!why??never crossed that word except in dicken's novels

    Marleah Blades December 3rd, 2008 at 8:20 am

    Hirsute. Because everyone else has to look it up.

    Lisa December 3rd, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Pendantic - as soon as you accuse someone of being pendantic, you are pretty much being a pendant yourself.

    BP December 3rd, 2008 at 10:53 am


    Such a short word for such a long, tedious, over-extended, prolonged, verbose, protracted, wordy tendency. Almost sounds like its own abbreviation.
    A shout out to sesquipedalian, too!

    Michael December 3rd, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Big. It remains the synonym choice for long car trips or pleasant thought excursions: large, gargantuan, enormous, titanic, immense, colossal, ginormous, huge, humungous, jumbo, massive... A simple little word, but one that is very much my own. Cheers, Michael

    Sarah December 3rd, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Frankenstein - When my daughter was born, my husband and I realized that we would have to come up with some expletive to use as a replacement for our cussing. (In high school, I had a friend whose first word had been "f**k" -- not exactly something we wanted to set down in the baby book!) We settled upon Frankenstein, because it didn't sound like a modified cuss word (unlike "shoot," etc.), but it is very evocative when said with feeling.
    It is especially good to use when expressing disgust at something shoddily or thoughtlessly made, or cobbled together, or something dangerous, or to curse one's own hubris or lack of foresight.
    When stubbing my toe at night because I neglected to turn on the light: "Frankenstein!"
    Describing particularly ugly code: "That software was Frankensteined!"
    Shopping on Black Friday: "What a Frankensteining mess!"

    My mother has always said that cussing is a sign of a poor vocabulary. Maybe if we had that OED, we would have a word for every Frankensteining occasion, and we could stop saying "Frankenstein!" every Frankensteining day!

    dxturner December 3rd, 2008 at 11:43 am

    it's fun to say
    it's hard to spell
    it's the root of my words vs. noise issue

    Jennifer December 3rd, 2008 at 12:01 pm


    Satisfying to say, and holds everything.

    Can substitute for forgotten names (what's-her-bucket) and allows for swearing in mixed company.

    And Charlie Bucket found the golden ticket.

    DebDebraT December 3rd, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Tic-de-la-roux. It is sharp facial pain caused by cranial nerves "mis-firing". I love the way it rolls off the tongue. Probably French, though, and not English. Another French word I love is: Escritoire (writing desk).
    For an English word, my favourite right now is "supposably" -- from the TV show "Friends", meaning supposedly and probably all at once. Probably not in the OED, either. sigh.
    Last try for a real English word: Reciprocity (it works both ways).

    Maundy December 3rd, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    Etymology. It was my answer to the same question in Mrs. Coggshall's fourth grade. "Word Freak" wasn't in the dictionary, but etymology was. "Furthermore," I said, "I am going to be an etymologist." Then Kevin-who-rained-on-parades B. said, "Last week you said you were going to be an entomologist." That too. Bugs and words. I like them.

    Lohnshark December 3rd, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Cromulent --It's a perfectly cromulent word. It may not be in the OED yet, but like its Simpson's predecessor, doh, cromulent is set to make its mark on the English language. Webster's New Millennium has already picked it up. As far as "fake" words go, cromulent doesn't take itself too seriously.

    Maddy December 3rd, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Heinous - it's fun to say and sounds like it ought to be a swear word. The word itself has an aural sizzle, appropriate in my opinion for an adjective
    describing something truly horrible and odious. The reaction of other people
    (who don't know the definition) to the word can be very entertaining.

    LLizzieLizzie December 3rd, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    One of my favorite words is peripatetic. For years I agonized over guessing its meanings and used it in sentences meaning "pathetic." After all, its only lacking an "h" to make pathetic. When I finally discovered its true meaning-nomadic- the mystery was solved. Since then I have delighted using it to stump other people in conversations!

    Cianwolf December 3rd, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Piffle. why? Because it sounds very much like what it means, which is 'nonsense'. And it's great fun to say it. Try it: "Piffle, piffle, piffle!" If you aren't doubled over in laughter by the time you're done saying it, well, your sense of humor must have been shot off in the war. "Piffle."

    Melissa December 3rd, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Crazy is a word I can't get enough of. I use it all the time and that is the beauty of crazy, it can be used so many ways. You just have to be careful not to call someone crazy; crazy people will get crazy mad at you.

    Master of Disaster December 3rd, 2008 at 6:16 pm


    Like most of the word nerds here... what? Offensive? Hmmm.

    Like most of the *logophiles* (happy??) here, I had a tough time picking just one favorite: Uxorious? What about plebeian? Thwart? What about subterfuge, and flummery, and aerie, not to mention whirligig??

    That was when it hit me: roots!

    Everyone seems to be looking for words with interesting roots, ones that tell a story about the word and fire the imagination. So I started thinking on those lines. I was cooking at the time, and certain incidents led me to think of the word "fire".

    Now, I immediately saw the root "ire" in "fire". But, I thought, rubbing my singed beard absently, wouldn't the ire come *after* one had been fired?

    No! The ire led one to *set something* on fire, I concluded triumphantly. What's more, the "ire" which leads to "fire" then causes one to be "mired" in the legal system (if not in a quag of some sort). This definitely would be a hindrance in getting "hired", should news of one's difficulties go out on the "wires".

    Well, this line of reasoning didn't bear much fruit, though it did stir grave misgivings about my upcoming holiday in Ireland.

    Then, as it has for several decades, my Concise OED (a wonderful treasure trove to be sure, but no substitute for the full OED. Or so I hear!) came to the rescue with:

    Disaster: [orig. 'unfavourable aspect of a star', f. F desastre or It. disastro (as DIS-, astro f. L astrum star)]

    Fabulous! A word we hear most every day. At least, I do, for some reason. And now, instead of visions of red, contorted faces proclaiming me the Master of this word in a full-throated welter of spittle, I shall think of a cool, crisp, starry night, and some stellar calamity in the firmament that can in no way be traced to me.

    And yet. And yet... I can't say that "disaster" captures my feelings about words.

    What could *possibly* suggest how powerful they are, how the right words can quicken the pulse, and frame the debate, buoy the powerless and skewer the unjust?

    What about a word that, by its very existence, suggests the power inherent in all the others?

    But surely, you say, euphemisms are just silly things we use to avoid giving offense in mixed company! So: "My bowels are moments away from spewing toxic sludge in a manner which will embarrass us both," becomes: "I need to powder my nose."

    And: "You are all fired. Also, we are giving ourselves a second executive washroom," becomes: "It is now time for a numerically downward personnel adjustment. Also, we are gaining an executive powder room."

    Not to mention all of the spittle-laced substitutions (referred to above) I hear from my coworkers and bosses in the course of my workday. Those court-ordered seminars had that effect, at least!

    It is true, I often encounter euphemism in these contexts. But it is also used when the stakes are higher. As I find in my own small life, words have power over people, making them do one thing instead of another.

    Sometimes the right set of words let a group of people do something that they would not otherwise be able to do. George Orwell wrote about this, calling it Newspeak. (As thanks, his name got turned into an adjective for everything he sought to defeat. A cautionary example for us all!)

    "Euphemism" is a word that shows that sometimes people and ideas need to hide behind other words. That some things can persist only if we as a society agree to cloak them, ignore them.

    Imagine my surprise, to find that my experiments with roots were not in vain!

    As it happens, when one looks at the root of the matter, one can't have "euphemism" without "eu" and "mi".

    Rilla December 3rd, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Word: Nannicock

    Because even the OED doesn't have a meaning for it so I can use it as I please. It's always amusing when I use the word randomly and the person I'm talking to acts like they know it's meaning because they don't want to admit that they didn't. It has no known meaning!

    Then there's the people who just laugh at how it sounds.

    John December 3rd, 2008 at 8:15 pm


    "For naturalists, the word describes the way some tree branches erupt from a trunk: not alternating or spiraling around the central pole (as in a conifer), but "melting away" from the core. Read it again and you can feel the melting in the root and prefix. It imbues apparently stationary trees with much movement and activity. They don't just stand there; they deliquesce!"

    Patrick F December 3rd, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Struggle is a word of the heart.

    Every story is a struggle. Every person, every thing, every possibility is a struggle. To live, to rise, to dare, to dream. One against all, one against one, one against self, one against none. We all live the struggle; we ARE struggle.

    Why do we cheer the underdog? Why do we resist, why do we fight and strain and toil? When the hero falls, what do we want?

    We want to see him rise, to lift his burden and stand once more--proud, victorious, alive.

    Struggle is the vehicle upon which dreams travel.

    Struggle embodies life, action, hope.

    Struggle is humanity.

    Robin December 3rd, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    My favorite word is... Mommy

    I can get emotional expressing myself with words, but Mommy is the only word that will make me experience an emotional response just by hearing it. The amazing thing is that the feeling is the same whether it is
    directed at me or not!

    Yvonne December 4th, 2008 at 12:34 am

    I have to say that one of my favorite words is cabal (plot).

    The reason for this is that the word sounds a lot worse than it really is.

    Sue C.Sue C. December 4th, 2008 at 6:34 am

    I'm fond of the word "debacle." It sounds benign, almost pleasant, but means something quite opposite. It is certainly a word to be used during afternoon tea with and crumpets, and not in the midst of a debacle.

    Nicole December 4th, 2008 at 7:08 am my favorite word for two reasons:

    1) Nobody uses it. Everybody says somebody "has integrity"...

    2) I think I fell in love during a conversation that involved both the word integrous and the OED. On my first date with my husband, we were talking about whether or not an adjectival form of integrity existed. He suggested integrous and I balked, saying that I needed to go home (in the middle of our date, mind you) and look it up in the OED, at which point he said, "So does that mean I'm not getting any?"...exactly my sense of humor. A match made in OED heaven.

    Barbara December 4th, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Tenacious. Because it's how I defined myself on Outward Bound when I was 15, and I remain so.

    Connor Fitzgerald December 4th, 2008 at 9:11 am

    My favorite word would have to be "Magniloquent" for the simple reason that it is the most pompous word I have found to describe something as pompous. If you use the word magniloquent you are speaking in a magniloquent fashion. Thus your original statement would lead someone to describe your words as magniloquent, and so the cycle begins. Caught in an endless, maddening circle of pompously calling other pompous the human race would crumble, sensibilities would diminish. We would lose our grip on reality, morals would quickly decay. We would find ourselves in a world of darkness, cannibalism and anarchy would ravage the world we have built. If a word has the power to destroy the world as we know it, surely it is strong enough to win a free copy of the OED. Was that last sentence a bit magniloquent?

    Robin December 4th, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Syzygy - because "y" proves itself a worthy vowel AND it actually means something beautiful and wonderous that makes the world amazing.

    Joshua December 4th, 2008 at 9:49 am

    It's hard to pick between stultifying and solipsistic. Maybe I just have a thing for S's. The world's constant attempts to stultify, lead me further and further down the path towards solipsism.

    Man I'm a downer!

    Kristina December 4th, 2008 at 10:15 am

    Pigeonhole. It amazes me how colloquialisms get embedded into our language and I just wonder who came up with this one. Was it a man with many problems standing in front of his carrier pigeon rook? And the many images that one can create of the word.

    bBbbbbBecky December 4th, 2008 at 11:27 am


    A word to express your frustration
    A word that’s intended to scare
    A word juxtaposing two creatures
    That’s my favorite word, the BUGBEAR!

    Jerel December 4th, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I love words, so picking one is virtually impossible. So here are two, but for the same reason: onomatopoeic and diminutive. I like these words because they are absurdly long oddly inappropriate. How can a word like "onomatopoeic" describe a word, usually very small and simple, that is derived from a natural sound? And a (comparatively) large word like "diminutive" means "small". I always think of this: "Never use a big word when a more diminutive one will do."

    Eleri Hamilton December 4th, 2008 at 1:36 pm


    Having gathered with a bunch of other fans of the Myst games for some late night fondue, we were presented our main course in a contraption that looked like the bastard child of a medieval book press and an Inquisitor's plaything. Being Myst fans, and therefore drawn to strange gadgets, we breathlessly inquired of our hostess, what was the name of this wonder.

    "A romulator." she told us, and we gazed in awe. A romulator! What a beautiful word! How evocative! Does a romulator romulate? Can one be romulated? Alas, we never learned those secrets, being utterly distracted by the challenge of stabbing raw meat with a fork and dipping it hot broth, without wounding your tablemates.

    Valarie B. December 4th, 2008 at 2:09 pm


    It means "frivelous person". I heard it for the first time when I saw the musical 1776, during the scene between Adams and Dickenson trading insults.

    Danielle Mayabb December 4th, 2008 at 2:47 pm


    I learned this word in a high school English class, and I still use it. It basically describes your average junk drawer, but it sounds way cooler. You can also use this word as a meditative chant.

    DawnAM December 4th, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I have many, but 'disarray' comes to my mind strongly.

    Any word that has the ability to paint a likely accurate visual with my imagination is wonderful. Whenever disarray is used to describe a situation or a person, the subtle chaos the mind is coerced to fill in the blanks with is simply beautiful.

    Desi December 4th, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    n. anything inducing a pleasurable sensation of forgetfulness.

    DianneDianne December 4th, 2008 at 4:14 pm


    Although the dictionary says it denotes a rude, stingy, bad-tempered person, I believe it connotes a grouchy old man who is really loveable inside. As a senior, I know a number of these men, and I'm happy I can separate the growling old dog from the sweet puppy underneath.

    Yvonne H. December 4th, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    My current favorite has to be "kerfuffle," meaning disturbance or disorderly outburst. Saying it makes me smile, which is exactly what's called for after a little kerfuffle...

    or there's always disambiguate, which seems like a disingenuous way to clarify.

    trieste December 4th, 2008 at 4:48 pm


    I learned it in a letter my grandpa wrote me in the 7th grade, talking about his trip to Inner Mongolia and the ubiquitous monkeys that stole their sunglasses and ate their food. Ever since then, it has been a ubiquitous part of my vocabulary.

    Nathaniel December 4th, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    The word "fecula" manages, despite its denotation as a flavorless thickener, to make most people think that I'm being scatological whenever I use it in conversation. (In fact, it can refer to the excreta of insects, though never in the contexts I favor.) Of course, since I don't spend much time slaving over the gravy boat, I tend to use "fecula" in more metaphorical ways, referring to presences that add bulk but not savor.

    JamieH December 4th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Borborygmy - The sound you might hear if you listened with a stethoscope to the abdomen of a really really boring pygmy after his lunch.

    Alan Morse December 4th, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    smarmy...'cause you just know such a short word full of rrr's and mmm's must be snarking up on fact, there's probably a
    SMall ARMY of best friends outside your door right now, jamb gumming, sill drooling and slimely smarming to get you.

    Alan Morse December 4th, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    oh...and can't leave out epididymis. It just rolls off the tongue in 7th grade sex ed, and it's so much fun to say everyone chants it and forgets to giggle.

    Chris December 4th, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I have too many favorites to pick just one, but for the purposes of this contest, I'm going to go with:

    Daikon. You know, the Japanese radish.

    Why? It's the most common English word that I know of that, last time I checked, was not included in the online Oxford English Dictionary.

    Rhonda December 4th, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Petrichor. Everyone knows that smell, but no one knows the word for it. Whenever I tell someone, I can see that light in their eyes -- it's like sparking a love of words that they might not have known they had.

    Brian December 4th, 2008 at 10:13 pm


    The word derives from an infamous grave robber and murderer, William Burke, who was hanged for his efforts in 19th- century Edinburgh. Burke sought freshly buried corpses to sell to medical schools (for anatomy classes, one assumes). When his grisly practice started to get unwanted attention, he switched to ready-made corpses, smothering victims in a way that produced no tell-tale signs of violence (for he was still desirous of selling the bodies for profit). Thus "to burke" means to murder, as by suffocation, so as to leave no marks of violence. It is, quite naturally, a transitive verb and a word, one hopes, that remains a delightful find for any dictionary sleuth in search of a bizarre case.

    Iain C December 4th, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Hope, my favorite word has always been hope.

    It is small. It's simple in form, complex in definition. Something that can be regained just as easily as it can be lost. Hope is like a little bird that hops out to tell Pandora that everything will be ok. It is big enough to fight off all the monsters that came out of the box before it. As Emily Dickinson said:

    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune--without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I've heard it in the chillest land,
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.

    Alexandria Bracanovich December 4th, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    "Glee" is my very favorite word. It sounds like what it is, happiness all the way down to your toes. In fact, it makes your toes curl. Glee is a perfect Christmas word. It is what you feel like when you give your friends exactly what they wanted, even if they didn't know it. Glee is singing Christmas carols with other people outside. Glee is watching a Christmas tree light up. And even when it isn't Christmas, glee is sharing a smile with a total stranger.

    Sarah Hendrickon December 5th, 2008 at 12:07 am

    autodidact- Something about this word makes me find time every day to take a moment and try and learn something new...

    Carl Cunningham December 5th, 2008 at 12:56 am


    I learned this word from P.G. Wodehouse's "Leave It To Psmith" when I was in college 30 years ago. It's stuck with me all of my life. I even identify my political affiliation when asked, as Persiflageocratic.

    K. J. Beam December 5th, 2008 at 5:14 am

    Discombobulated - it's who I am. A mess. My brain works the way an owlery works in Harry Potter. Quick messages fly in and fly out and occasionally I get to see the whole thing and put a complete thought together. If I didn't have a bag to hold all my important stuff - computer, phone, the scarf I'm knitting for my cousin for the holidays, I wouldn't be able to function.

    KellyKelly December 5th, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Attraction. I love saying the word, thinking the word and most of all feeling the word. Attraction rattles on my tongue and flows through my blood, pulsing, pounding and settling down in the soles of my feet.

    Steve K. December 5th, 2008 at 7:19 am

    "Squitter", which Gore Vidal uses and in a sense brought back to life, is the squirting of watery stool...not on and thus a perfect entry from the OED. The derived term squitterbreeches is terrific. Plus one presume you can particularly use it for those who "quit" because of cowardice that manifests itself physicially.

    Bradley December 5th, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Jackanapes- Basically it is a man who acts in a monkey-like fashion. As a fairly young man, I can find many opportunites to use it in reference to myself and my friends...

    EVEe Eve December 5th, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Alacrity - meaning a briskness or cheerful readiness. I love this word as it springs forth to life in those who exhibit its characteristics and true definition.

    Frank December 5th, 2008 at 9:59 am

    My most recent favorite word is "epe" meaning to cry out. With it you get onomatopoeia, obsolescence, and rarity. What's not to like?

    Emma December 5th, 2008 at 10:27 am


    A word I enjoy both for its feel as one says it, and for its almost perfect onomonopoetic nature. It is one of the few words that truly sounds exactly like that noise which it intends to represent.

    Todd December 5th, 2008 at 10:28 am


    Whenever I have participated in amateur theatre or choral events, it was always stressed to us that, should we forget the line to a song or need to simulate crowd noise, that simply singing or murmuring "watermelon" would do the trick, and it always did. A humble garden-variety fruit that is the chameleon of the verbal world.

    Shelley December 5th, 2008 at 10:51 am

    SOPOFORIC (causing drowsiness) It is a term used by Beatrix Potter in Peter Rabbit to describe the effect eating lettuce has on bunnies. Please watch the movie WIT and you will understand the poignancy of this word. Such a regal word for a humble existence!

    jeeves December 5th, 2008 at 11:48 am


    It is such a compact and telling word. 4 letters but the meaning is packed with the possibility of hilarious implication. Oh to be born on February 14th the day of the quip. Few truly have ever mastered the quip making this word and its practice even more exceptional. I think this word is not used as much as it once was and those that practice it are not so prolific at least in letters. I think we should start a movement in our schools to bring back the quick thinking assuredness that is required of the quip back into education and we would all be better for it.

    RJ December 5th, 2008 at 12:16 pm


    It's not that easy to drop into conversation. It's just good to say. Cal-trop. Caltrops, caltrop. It's like honey with a live bee in it. Sort of flows off your tongue and ends with a stinging plosive at the end. It's a vicious little word that doesn't sound like one and the sort of thing that makes people wince when they know what it means and ask if they don't. A conversation starter that doesn't make you sound over-wordy and pretentious.

    Usage - When being tail-gated. 'I wish we had caltrops.'

    Spellcheck refuses to believe it exists.

    Shina Laris December 5th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Gossamer, especially as used in "gossamer kiss" - it's one of my favourite phrases.

    Marianne December 5th, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Just presently, my favorite word is pangolin.

    Not only does it sound all odd and mysterious, it describes a mammal with scales that has an anteater tongue and can roll itself up into a defensive (armored) ball... HOW COOL IS THAT?

    Cool enough that when I had a troop (another good word) of Cub Scouts at my library, it was one of the words I had them look up in the OED. Along with such delights as junco and dromedary.

    Rachel Z. Brachman December 5th, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    My favorite word is "facetiously".

    The word was introduced to me by my sixth grade teacher, who loved language as well as art. It's one of the few words in the English language in which each vowel appears once and only once, in alphabetical order. fAcEtIOUslY. What an amusing word. It's hard to take a word like "facetiously" seriously. :-)

    (A close second would be "dysnomia": not being able to recall a name or word.)

    Karen Williams December 5th, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    My favorite word is "cwm", which is a type of valley. I love this word because it's a Welsh borrow word, and one of very few reasons why the list of vowels is a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y and w. Yes, w is a vowel.

    Leta Grieves December 5th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Family is my favorite word. It is the heart of everything to me. When I was a kid my family, parents, were my world. Now I am grown with children of my own, they and their children are my world. So no matter where I am in life, family is the word.

    Kelsie O’Dea December 5th, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    My favorite word is "Shall." I do not even think about it, it just slips into my everyday conversations. It makes you feel pretty to say it, like you are in a Shakespearean play.

    Renee W. December 5th, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    My favorite word is "spiritual" because it makes me think of things other than myself and my own problems.

    Sharon Skinner December 5th, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    My favorite word is monger

    because it taught me, at the age of thirteen, to be certain of a word's meaning before using it.

    Keith December 5th, 2008 at 2:16 pm


    I like the idea of dwelling in twilight

    Theo Baldwin December 5th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    cacophony. It's just an awesome word, so punctuated and aurally descriptive of what it represent.

    Andrea L. December 5th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Sesquipedalian, because of its self-referentiality.

    Jennifer St. Clair December 5th, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Honestly? My favorite word in the whole wide world is hope. Because without hope, what do you have? Not much. And in this day and age, we need all the hope we can get.

    outside voice December 5th, 2008 at 5:21 pm


    A lovely and whimsical term for the combination of two different words (referring originally to a hinged suitcase, which is the perfect symbol for such a blend).

    In my portmanteau, you ask? A ginormous bionic spork for our frankenfood brunch--after we view a docudrama at the cineplex.

    PePenPenny O’Connor December 5th, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Radiant! A scientific word to descroibe energy, and a descriptive word to describe a person so joyous that they glow. I love the radiance of the sun, the radiance of someone seeing the beauty of nature, or the beauty of life. See radiance! Be radiant!

    PePenPenny O’Connor December 5th, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    favorite word Radiant. Did not mean to misspell describe...

    Laf December 5th, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    I agree that choosing a favorite word is like choosing a favorite child; it can't be done. The word that popped into my head just now that, like thousands of others, I find intriguing is "go." Many have erroneously (another favorite word) thought that the shortest sentence in the English language is "I am." But, as you can see, it takes a full 6 taps on the keyboard to type it with correct punctuation and capitalization, whereas (another favorite word) "Go." takes a mere 4. Also, it is a single syllable (another favorite word) rather than two. Also, in all practical senses, it is a sentence that actually gets used. One can only really use "I am" as an answer to a question. I enjoy "Go" because it gets used frequently as a full sentence, not just in theory, and it has so much urgency behind it. If someone says "go," then usually you already have all the information you need about where it is you're supposed to go, why you are going there, what you need to do once you get there, and why you need to go right now.


    Susal December 5th, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Bucolic. Sounds barfy, but means lovely pastoral setting. I love the nonintuitive, oppositional meaning of it.

    Kathryn December 5th, 2008 at 6:26 pm


    Abi December 5th, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    My favorite word? Mingy. It means mean and stingy. Why is it my favorite word? Because in 2002 I won a $500 dollar bet against a pain-in-butt, know-it-all, former Nobel Prize candidate, who said it wasn’t a word. He paid me the 500 dollars. He sort of had to. The whole reason the word came up was because I had used it to describe him.

    Milaka Falk December 5th, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    My favorite word is stereotypical. I love the way it feels as you say it. I love the way it sounds. And the meaning is actually interesting and amusing to me as well: a generalized perception of first impressions: behaviors presumed by a group of people judging with the eyes/criticizing ones outer appearance (or a population in general) to be associated with another specific group. It amazes me that one can believe so much about a person/place/thing based on looks alone.

    Daivd December 5th, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    mellifluous -- Originally referring to flowing like honey, this beautiful word now describes beautiful words. Sweeter than dulcet and in diametric opposition to magniloquent, this adjective accompanies the shivers resultant from a perfectly turned phrase or verse.

    DaivdDavid December 5th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    I extolled the virtues of mellifluous, not realizing Kristina (#28) already championed this word. So, instead:
    Synaesthesia -- A reality of sensation where senses blend and merge; where rules are bent and broken. The depth and breadth this can lend to prose and poem is towering and unfathomable. A word every bit as lovely as mellifluous.

    Anna Seward December 5th, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    moot, adj.

    This is my favorite word partly because I was so surprised to learn what it actually meant. I'd read it in books for the longest time before anyone told me/I found out it meant obsolete. I actually came up with my own definition that usually worked relatively well in the things I was reading. I decided a "moot point" was a worthless point, one without any evidence to back it up. Now when I think about "moot" I blend the two definitions: my incorrect one, and the dictionary's. I think that's the best kind of word recognition you can get.

    Ashley Campbell December 6th, 2008 at 12:28 am

    I know-- This little piece of Germanic slang has done wonders nestled in the universe of anything rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. My Grandmother would be having a fit that I'd even suggest it.

    But honestly? What word spreads more like wild fire yet can stop a conversation (or a whole crowd of people) with one slip? Also the versatility! It can be an exclamation, or a verb, or a noun, or an adjective... This small four letter monster can slip in almost anywhere.

    F*ck(exclaimation)! F*ck(verb) you, you f*cking(adjective) f*ck(noun)!

    You can say the word softly, loudly, tenderly, roughly. It can be said to a lover or an enemy. It can be said to express frustration, loss, love, anger, or just because.

    Grandma, give f*ck a chance.

    Bill Bradford December 6th, 2008 at 12:48 am


    Because I do a lot of modeling and simulation of physical processes, this is what I strive for.

    .adam. December 6th, 2008 at 1:54 am


    i like to stare off into the aether, frown a magnificently lippy frown, and wave my hand in a silvio dante dismissal, "ehhhh ... et cetera et cetera."

    then i quickly change the subject or put my face in my drink and slink away before anyone thinks to question what the ceteras might be...

    KC December 6th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Passionate - I am passionate about words, passionate about passion, passionate about life, books, movies, friends, chocolate, teaching, love, light, weather, cats, puppies, my daughter, theatre, everything.

    J. Ferdaszewski December 6th, 2008 at 12:19 pm


    Such a simple word on the surface, but what does it really mean? We use it coherently all the time but dig down deep and we start loosing grip. What does it mean "to be"? Such a rich word that is used everyday, usually without thought. (Apologies to Martin Heidegger who originally turned me onto this word)

    Sarah Sarah Irani December 6th, 2008 at 12:56 pm


    One time my husband and I were on a train enjoying a wonderful conversation. He said, "That's *so* ubiquitous!" I looked puzzled, cocked my head and said, "That's not what that word means!" We both got a good chuckle and that word has become our ubiquitous word. We use it without regard to meaning as our little private joke. Besides in a growing global culture, what isn't ubiquitous anymore?

    Megan N. December 6th, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    (Gah! The OED! I once joked that if ever a man wants to marry me, he should forego the ring and get me an OED instead as a token of his seriousness and devotion.)

    Favorite word: PHONETIC. The poor little word's spelling is in direct conflict with its definition. How lexically amusing! As an English teacher I use this word's inner turmoil to trick my high school seniors into being interested in word nerdishness.

    Megan N. December 6th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    P.S. I also have a decent amount of appreciation for its cousin in contradiction : MONOSYLLABIC.

    Marin December 6th, 2008 at 5:03 pm


    because to say it is to be it.

    Deborah December 6th, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    canoodle. to caress, fondle, or pet amorously. because it's fun.

    gregory December 6th, 2008 at 6:37 pm


    It's the 4-6 mm arterial conduit in the neck which traverses the skull base to perfuse the cerebral cortex. Galenic medicine and creed reigned supreme after Hippocrates, yet Galen forbade human dissection as the body was sacrosanct. All knowledge of the body (and so its diseases and treatment) was gleaned from animal studies until the works of the iconoclastic genius of Vesalius in the 16th Century. In the case of the carotid, the etymology from the Greek word for 'too plunge into deep sleep, to stupefy' derives from the surgical ligation of canine carotid arteries which precipitated bodily collapse and coma. Hence, to consider the word is to consider the vicariousness and fragility of life itself.

    Sunny December 6th, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    "smock" is one of my favorites after Hobbs in Calvin and Hobbs.

    muon - An elementary particle

    Thank you.

    kristin whitaker December 6th, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I love schadenfreude, a loanword from German. It means delight in the misery of others. It has seeped into television and into conversation. There's not a comparable word in English which is why it's a loanword, I guess. It just delights me to hear the word.

    Marissa Gordon December 6th, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    My favorite word is "flummoxed" because it sounds and it feels in my mouth like the perfect expression of my bafflement.

    Nubinski December 6th, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Analyte. Not sure why, but it isn't actually in the OED. It is in a lot of the chemistry that I do, and it is in wikipedia. -1 for the OED!

    Jobetta December 6th, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    I've always been fond of "exacerbate," because it's fun to say. I also like "facetious."

    My favorite curse word is also one of my favorite words in general. As a grammar nerd, I love f*** because it can function as any part of speech, has several meanings and can convey almost any emotion.

    But I'd have to say that my absolute favorite word is arachibutyrophobia, or "the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one's mouth."

    l.e.l.e. December 7th, 2008 at 8:22 am

    “Palindrome” because that’s what my dog’s name was – a name culled from an Inupiat dictionary and elevated from the status of mere noun to reflect my pet’s arctic-ness. A name easily abbreviated but not easily forgotten because it reflects itself as mirror image. A name now simply reflecting the memory of a beloved pet lost. But a name I can’t tell you because its mnemonic success perpetuates it as a password to computer accounts and email accounts and all accounts demanding a word easily accessed from my mental dictionary, such as a palindrome.

    Ellen December 7th, 2008 at 8:43 am


    Because it is just as sensuous as a sound as its meanings, a red pigment or more obsure and my favorite, that borderline between the lips and the skin

    janet selby December 7th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    soporific. It sounds like something really exciting, but it really just means hot and humid...slow. I like saying it in slo-mo.

    Amy December 7th, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    To pick a word, any word, is quite a task... I confess there is not one word I like, but to join them together to make a poem makes my heart sing. Thus I leave you with the argument that it is not but one word to which a person can argue for, but what words can do for you. What they become when they are strung together to make a sentence, to create a poem. Words are my muse I love them so. Thus I leave you with a limerick of mine. The words of this poem capture a quiet summer morn' with the birds chirping and the smell of warm milky tea wafting beneath my nose... the promise of a good day.

    The wind has joined me for tea.
    See it there rocking in the rocking chair, smiling at me.
    Thus I raise my cup,
    And take a sup,
    And say good morning to thee.

    Cara December 7th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    I have been obsessed with the work "biweekly" for years. Originally, I had thought that biweekly had meant "twice a week", and someone had told me that it means "every two weeks". Being perturbed by this, I looked up the definition in the dictionary where it showed both definitions! Twice a week AND every two weeks. I have maintained a long standing rant about how it is ridiculous for a word to have two different time definitions (they should be mutually exclusive!). So, I looked up "bimonthly"...same deal, twice a month and every two months. Using A=B, B=C therefore A=C logic, it is possible for someone to use the word "biweekly" and mean to use it as twice a week and actually have it interpreted as every two months! Ah, the English language, you gotta love it.

    Mickey O’Connor December 7th, 2008 at 5:43 pm


    because it has a wild sound & it is what i have done

    so many times; " to wander, to stray "

    & it has the word savage inside of it

    i learned it from samuel beckett & it is not

    in the OED, i believe it is irish &/or scottish

    in origen.

    David Stein December 7th, 2008 at 5:46 pm


    ...because the world is full of new understandings.

    veronica December 7th, 2008 at 7:23 pm


    Having such a beautiful word to describe an ample derriere makes me feel proud to be the owner of one.

    Ms Meg December 7th, 2008 at 8:11 pm


    The word triggers my reticular activating system and I find myself hyperalert to a possible bargain (!) or a probable scam. My inner skeptic warns me that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but the word free is the siren's call to this bargain hunter.

    Blair Prescott December 8th, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Inflammable. It drives me crazy... why do we need a longer word that means the same as flammable, while at the same time suggesting, dangerously, that it might be an opposite instead? I mustn't light up next to that tank that says 'flammable', but this one over here is 'inflammable', so it must be ok...

    Mark Mironer December 8th, 2008 at 5:12 am

    battels: the bill issued for room and board at Oxford University.

    Talk about bizarrely specific- although the fact that it applied to Oxford may have had a little something to do with how it might have snuck in there.

    It also lends itself well to bad puns:

    At Oxford lives Oliver Attles.
    "Here I pay room and board," the boy prattles.
    But the lad got the chills
    When he grabbed the wrong bills.
    Be careful when choosing your battels.

    timberly eckelmann December 8th, 2008 at 5:34 am


    - a plain, everyday word. It gets the job done.

    Michael Turniansky December 8th, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Paliest. The superlative form of "paly", defined as "somewhat pale". I've longed scratched my head over how something can be the "most somewhat" /anything/. I'm pale, you're paler, he's palest, no problem. But if you are not really pale, then you are only paly. But I'm palier than you. Ummm... you're more pale? No, silly, that would mean I'm just paler..... *scratchscratch*

    Susan December 8th, 2008 at 7:31 am


    We could all use it now.

    Steve Young December 8th, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Flabbergasted -- I recall the first time my two children heard this word. My son, about 8, and my daughter of six were in the back seat of the car, sipping soda and eating lunch on a family outting. When I used the word "flabbergasted" they both cracked up, and my son sent soda out his nose--they had never heard such a funny word, and I had never noticed how funny it was. Every time I hear the word I give thanks for the humor of the English language.

    Janet McC December 8th, 2008 at 9:20 am

    Like many of us with a nearly lifelong love of words and a passionate attachment to dictionaries, I can't really say that I have a favorite word. (For that matter, my favorite anything is often a matter of time and place: at 5 a.m., my favorite drink is coffee; if I've been out in New Orleans' summer heat I just want cold water.)

    As a contributor to the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form -- -- I've written five-line valentines to more than 150 words (and I'm a piker -- seven contributors are up in the thousands). The project is alphabetic, and we're up to words & abbreviations starting with "dd".

    Out of words I've learned since joining the project, I'll choose "anthimeria". I hadn't realized that, in spite of Bill Watterson's "Verbing weirds language," the practice was not only one that dates back to Shakespeare but one which had its own name. It applies, I'll note, not only to verbing but to substituting any part of speech for another.

    I hadn't planned on entering this, since every bookshelf in the house is overflowing. But when I told The Man In My Life, he said, "We'd make room."

    (If I only had a computer old enough, I could use the OED CD which a generous Christmas gift allowed me to buy back when it cost $900. Alas, it won't talk to my current computer and I can't afford the current version.)

    Susan A. December 8th, 2008 at 10:03 am


    Because it's a cool ability to have, and doesn't seem to have been thought about much.

    Mary Davis December 8th, 2008 at 10:50 am

    I like a lot of fancy sounding words, but to pick the most USEFUL word is easy: "please". It seems to work wonders in almost any situation and I find myself using it often.

    Adam December 8th, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Eh,my favorite word is SCHWA. It is the unaccented vowel sound in words like adept. Eh, why do I like it? Eh, I like the way that it sounds. You can teach it to a kid and they will like it. It is like my second favorite word, smock, but different. Schwa is handy, too.

    D. Share December 8th, 2008 at 11:10 am

    My favorite word is "sure." It means so many things, and is, as Delmore Schwartz put it in a marvelous poem, a great American word. Assent, certainty, security - it's a word both an introvert and extrovert can love. I sure do!

    DenizDDeniz Bevan December 8th, 2008 at 11:50 am

    My favourite word is Wariangle. I love the Germanic sound of the word, I love the mystery surrounding its etymology and the fact that it's both a regular noun (the name of a bird) and, as the OED says, also used as a term of contemptuous abuse! But my main reason for loving the word is that it's one of the ones that J. R. R. Tolkien worked on during his time at the OED, back in the 1910s...

    Michael Dawson December 8th, 2008 at 11:58 am


    That's not a typo!

    It's a noun meaning, per OED online, "to crawl like ants; transf. to swarm with moving beings."

    Who can't use this word every once in a while?

    It's one letter away from my second-favorite word, too! ;-)

    John Gear December 8th, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Syzygy -- an alignment of the planets:

    In astronomy, a syzygy is the alignment of three or more celestial bodies in the same gravitational system along a straight line. The word is usually used in context with the Sun, Earth, and the Moon or a planet, where the latter is in conjunction or opposition. Solar and lunar eclipses occur at times of syzygy, as do transits and occultations. The term is also applied to each instance of New Moon or Full Moon when Sun and Moon are in conjunction or opposition, even though they are not precisely on one line with the Earth.

    Runner up is probably "ursine" (bearlike). Both are words I first encountered while reading a Merriam-Webster while bored in school.

    MEHope December 8th, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Linoleum: It should be a sonnet variation or cream filled dessert, at least a desert in Asia. The shame is ours if it can't be rescued from the kitchen floor and remade as something of beauty or light.

    Sarah W. December 8th, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Apotropaic. An adjective, referring to things with the power to avert evil. I love all of the hard consonant sounds. And, it's surprising useful for an obscure, art history term...

    flashesofgreatness December 8th, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Perspicuous. Because it means the opposite of what it is -- "easy to understand."

    Sean Strout December 8th, 2008 at 2:15 pm


    -an adjective describing a person, place or thing that's showy or pretentious. Interesting considering the very word is pretentious sounding. Definitely a good word to use at the dinner table.

    David Cifuni December 8th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    - a very small word with a lot of meanings!

    Diana Raabe December 8th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    My favorite word these days is "boustrophedonic" because it is ridiculously specific. It refers to the practice of writing from left to right on one line, then from right to left on the next line, then left to right, and so on, and so on.

    After I don't know how many years, I am still waiting for the opportunity to use this word!

    localcrew December 8th, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Favorite word: superciliary

    Why? Because the very spirit of a question promotes a superciliary action . . . the raising of the eyebrows which signals the start of all great intrigues and investigations.

    Susannah December 8th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Panoply. Because I like the sound of it, and I like the meaning, and I like the etymology.

    Andrea December 8th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    pejorative. because my husband uses pejorative a lot and I think it's cute.

    TTTonyTony December 8th, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Retromingent. Urinating backwards.

    SRA December 8th, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    My favourite word is "like". It practically comes under every lexical category and not only do I use it every day, but just about every person I speak to says it at least once a day.

    I like the OED and would like to win it because I would like to use it to look up words, but if I don’t win it then I could just look up words in a dictionary that is like the OED. But, with the likes of the OED my chances of having a lot more definitions to choose from is likely. Some people, like my best friend, like to use Webster’s, but, like, she’s just not that bright. Even if I don’t win the OED, can you just send me a look-a-like? It’ll cost you like nothing!

    Fat Cat December 8th, 2008 at 7:01 pm


    I love this word because when I can actually sneak it in, people smile and say "I haven't heard that word in years". The word embodies a period in American history that stretched to influence great artist such as Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and the Beatles. In these economic times, the Beat Philosophy makes me want to become a "Beatnik".

    cool, man , cool

    Nancy H-L December 8th, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    I like that it means a tiny bit. A small mark. It also can mean a kind of smoked ham or bacon. All those are good things, and when you say "speck" suddenly, you might just spit a tiny bit...or speck.
    Speck! Speck? SPECK!
    See, there's a speck of spittle, flitting down to mar your keyboard. Until it dries.

    Clay December 8th, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    Eschatology I mean come on; what is a better word for the study of the end times.

    Kristina December 8th, 2008 at 10:41 pm


    the art of growing a beard

    Christina December 8th, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Facetious. I was humiliated for years after the only other fourth-grader with a better vocabulary than I used this word in conversation, and I didn't know its meaning. Really, I was.

    Creedence December 8th, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    I think I'd say eloquent. I like it, because even saying the word sounds eloquent, which I think is funny.

    Kelley K. December 8th, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    Hypnagogic - It's finally nice to know that they have acknowledged that weird state between being awake and being asleep. If there ever was a direct portal to understanding life and your existence, it has to be between this odd reality where things surreal and real are one.

    My most fertile and imaginative dreams happen in this state and it's cool to be able to classify them as hypnagogic experiences instead of "vivid dreams."

    Mary December 8th, 2008 at 11:44 pm


    I first realized the value of this work when my hand met a lawn mower a few years back and lost lost most of its fingers. The word was everywhere all of a sudden. The fingered thing at the end of an arm is quite helpful, but the word itself is perhaps even more so. (Not to ignore hands of bananas, ginger, cards....)

    It is an unassuming word with great abilities. Consider these few simple examples: at hand, upper-hand, backhanded, by hand, hand in, handout, on hand, handmade, hands on/off, out of hand. I could go on, and on. I believe it is the longest entry in the dictionary. If not, it should be. It is well, quite handy. Hands down, a winner.

    ralph Rudy December 9th, 2008 at 2:02 am

    Burgeon and burgeoning ... to bud, to grow rapidly... useful to describe, for instance, population...

    Lisa Lawer December 9th, 2008 at 2:16 am


    I love saying this word. Keep it copasetic people!

    JENNIFER EREMEEVA December 9th, 2008 at 6:25 am


    1. a written or printed work of fiction or nonfiction, usually on sheets of paper fastened or bound together within covers.

    What could be better than that?

    Koty December 9th, 2008 at 8:22 am

    "Pedagogy" . . . because as a high school teacher, my students never believe me that this word is actually used. They think I made it up to use as a "code word" at faculty meetings. It amuses me to throw it into classroom discussions, along with "metacognition," another educational favorite.

    EJB December 9th, 2008 at 8:32 am

    The word "also" has been on my mind lately more than any other single word.

    I've been puzzling over it ever since learning that it was the word Sarah Palin used most frequently during the Vice Presidential debate.

    What does this humble word signify?

    Palin's grammatical last resort for urgently stringing together those barely-related phrases on her index cards?

    Or a more profound statement about the mystery of the universe, where some additional, unknown quantity is always emerging as we hurtle headlong through a dizzying succession of utterances and events?

    Harve6y December 9th, 2008 at 9:01 am

    stercoraceous: containing, like, or having the nature of feces, or dung. This word is useful in referring to certain individuals.

    Marianna December 9th, 2008 at 10:31 am

    chthonic: an adjective describing something (or someone) who dwells in the earth.

    As a logophile and student of the Greek language, I first came across this word in its original tongue. At that time, I loved repeating the word aloud for the great "chth" sound at its start--it just feels heavy in your mouth, like something from deep in the earth.
    Later, I was pleased to learn that this funny word starting with a double-digraph (come on, how many words start with "chth"?) had made its way into the English language as well. While it's most often used to describe earth-dwelling deities, I try to work it into conversations about death or gardening.

    the liberal librarian December 9th, 2008 at 10:47 am

    otorhinolaryngology. When I was in 5th grade, I won the school spelling bee and I was sent to participate in the state spelling bee. I just knew that they were going to pick the hardest word in the book and that I would walk away a winner...on my way to Scripps fame! So for days I scrutinized over the spelling of the word and the meaning and I finally learned to spell it. The day of the spelling bee arrived and I made it to round 3...only to be kicked out by spelling "unperturbed" incorrectly. I spelled "unpertubed". *sigh* But at least I still remember otorhinolaryngology.

    knomakknomad December 9th, 2008 at 10:59 am

    languor - speak it slowly, throw back your arms and fall into the word, sigh it, spell it one step at a time, fall in lazy love with it and then whisper it in a dazed delirium as the day ends

    Then tell me you don't know why...

    Tippypaws December 9th, 2008 at 11:34 am


    Aiden Sanders December 9th, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Reciprocity! Sometimes it's stuck in my head for days. Initially I wasn't sure if it was actually a word, but it is. I have no idea where I read it, but sometimes I wish I hadn't.

    Shel December 9th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    SNOOD - a rather titillating word for a hairnet. I love to see this word used because you can tell from the context that it's something that's worn on the body, but you expect it to be far more exotic and exciting that it really is. Besides, it sounds great when spoken aloud.

    EllEllen B December 9th, 2008 at 12:39 pm


    Woo! Was that a humdinger, or what?!

    I think that it's the perfect word. The mouth is allowed to linger on the end of the first syllable, giving the speaker time to reflect on the outstanding qualities of whatever object, person, or moment is being described. The second syllable - a brilliant, splashy DING! - pushes the speaker back into the folly and playfulness that any true Humdinger would represent. And the final errrrrrrrrr sounds just piratey enough to make plundering sound a little more attractive, which may have even instigated the use of the word HUMDINGER in the first place.

    Karyn Gregory December 9th, 2008 at 1:09 pm


    I know it's a simple word but until recently I was unaware of how often I used it in conversation. It is constantly the taste I want on the tip of my tongue and is far more appealing to me than sweet (which will forever be associated with tooth decay in my mind).

    Michelle Duffy December 9th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Coolth - n.

    I saw this written in a Fritz Leiber story, and was immediately charmed yet incredulous that it was a real opposite/counterpart to "warmth," so I went immediately to the library to look it up in the OED, and sure enough, it's there. How cool is that?

    m.k. December 9th, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    That blissful time just before
    The First couple fell.

    Not George and Laura,
    silly, but Adam and Eve.
    You know, the rib set?

    An inane bite of
    fleshy fruit forbidden to
    Eden's Bobbsey Twins.

    For what? All that time
    to walk and talk and name things
    Swapped for sex and death.

    A hiccup in time,
    Accidental slip

    Just like that pregnant
    freeze-frame of Carrie, as she
    trips off the sidewalk.

    BetsyBBetsy December 9th, 2008 at 2:10 pm


    It's pretty, and perfect for that feeling of "blegh" which is not pretty.

    Maria December 9th, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    exquisite- Every time I see little kids, I think of this word. What else is as amazing as life and as exquisite as a baby saying his first words?

    Happy Holidays everyone!

    kkathy poland December 9th, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    My favorite word in the dictionary since elementary school has been "LOQUACIOUS!"
    What a wonderfully eloquent way of saying I talk a lot!
    I think it will make a good name for my first daughter.
    Don't you all agree?

    Those words still remain in the American language, don't they?

    mandydawn December 9th, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    for the sharp taste in saying it, and the salacious meaning when mouthing it.

    Nephele December 9th, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    Waffle. How many words describe both a state of indecision and a tasty breakfast food? It just makes me laugh at the English language.

    andrew December 10th, 2008 at 12:12 am


    because it was the first word i'd ever looked up in the OED.

    Daa Dave December 10th, 2008 at 5:28 am

    catawampus- slightly askew or diagonal. We used to use this all the time in high school when people would wear those crazy sideways jackets back in the 80's. i still smile because my brother would always come downstairs in the mornign looking all catawampus.

    Marion BE December 10th, 2008 at 7:43 am

    Polymath. People who are not polymaths instinctively think it's got something to do with mathematics; people who are polymaths know it doesn't.

    Heath Hutto December 10th, 2008 at 7:54 am


    In philological terms, we often speak of words telling stories--how they came from this language through that one, how they used to mean the opposite of what they do now, how etymologically they really ought to mean something else entirely, and the like.

    But 'ultracrepidarian' relies on its story more than most. Pliny the Elder, in his Historia Naturalis (Book xxxv) tells of the painter Apelles, who would place his paintings in public and hide behind them to make note of any faults which were mentioned by the passers-by. A cobbler pointed out a defect in the drawing of a sandal (the number of straps was wrong), and Apelles made the correction. The haughty cobbler, however, the next day impugned the quality of the legs in the painting, and an indignant Apelles jumped out to denounce him, saying "ne supra crepidam sutor iudicaret"--the cobbler should not pass judgment on anything above the sole of the sandal (supra crepidam).

    Over time, supra crepidam became 'ultra crepidam', and 'ultracrepidarian' derived from it--the cobbler should stick to his last, and advice given outside of one's area of expertise is called 'ultracrepidarian' as a result.

    All words tell stories, but the best words have the most interesting stories to tell.

    Søren Riis December 10th, 2008 at 9:36 am

    Uxorious - excessively fond of or submissive to a wife.

    I love the way it feels to speak this word out loud; it seems the vowels have to travel all the way around the mouth before finally coming together in the spoken word.

    Also, naturally, it's a generally silly word. Especially as there seems to be no words describing the reversed situation; perhaps Ye Olde Dictionarians did not imagine that a wife could ever be excessively fond of or submissive to a husband?

    Miles Pschigoda December 10th, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Obnubilate is my favorite word. It's just so far out there. I don't have much chance to use it, but I love when I do. The word inspires it's meaning with it's use!

    Obnubilate: Verb;
    1. obscure, befog, becloud, obnubilate, haze over, fog, cloud, mist -- (make less visible or unclear; "The stars are obscured by the clouds"; "the big elm tree obscures our view of the valley")
    2. confuse, blur, obscure, obnubilate -- (make unclear, indistinct, or blurred; "Her remarks confused the debate"; "Their words obnubilate their intentions")

    [source: Wordnet Version 3.0]

    I found the word by browsing dictionaries for "obscure" and "archaic" words.

    cC. R. Wilson December 10th, 2008 at 11:03 am


    This is one of those words that follows a person around. First it is just a color. And then one hears of odd liquors and the dream of a nepenthe to ease one’s misspent youth. It becomes a drink to ease the pain of a wisdom tooth. It is the pronunciation of which separates you from every French speaker in the world because your French is so bad you will only ever be an English speaker mispronouncing adopted French words the rest of your life. But because you love this word, you teach it to your daughter who happens upon it while watching Blue’s Clues so that at three-years-old she is asked, “What is your favorite color?” at preschool. And she answers simply and melodiously,


    Benjamin Thomas December 10th, 2008 at 11:03 am

    I have always loved the word 'woo' because

    a) it sounds funny
    b) it is fun to say
    c) who doesn't like to be wooed?

    bBrenda Gallaher December 10th, 2008 at 11:09 am

    OBNOXIOUS. My favourite word to use is obnoxious because so many things are. Rude people are obnoxious. People who don't control their children in public places are obnoxious. Free range animals in my yard is obnoxious. Why are so many people obnoxious? It's because they too like the way the word sounds. I use obnoxious at least five times a day.

    Thiru December 10th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    My favorite word in English is "Advesperate."

    This word means “To approach evening.”

    One of my dreams is to translate at least a few hidden gems of Tamil books into English so that others also can enjoy those but the challenge will always be to find those equivalent expressions and words in English that exactly mean the same as in Tamil.

    I know English has a rich vocabulary and there few things that can only be said in English. On the other hand, my mother tongue, Tamil, is also in its own right, has a rich set of vocabulary and many words and word phrases from Tamil describe many things that are so unique to Tamil language’s vocabulary. One such word phrase means that the ‘evening is approaching.’

    For quite some time, I was wondering if English language has an equivalent expression to mean the same! Just imagine my pleasure to find a single word “advesperate” from English to mean the same as the word phrase from Tamil but in a more succinct form!

    Having said all this, “advesperate” is not a well-known word and it is highly unlikely that somebody will say, "Let us hurry! It is advesperating!" to you or me someday in a normal conversation.

    Sofie SherBurt December 10th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I hope English isn't a requirement, but my favorite word i s "planchar." It means "to iron" in Spanish. I almost wish I ironed more so I would have an excuse to use it more often.

    If it has to be English, it has to be "porsine."

    Natalie December 10th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    portmanteau - a word or morpheme whose form and meaning are derived from a blending of two or more distinct forms.

    I love portmanteau because these are my favorite types of words. They're funny, descriptive, and relatively easy to create. Some good ones I've heard over the last few years include fauxhawk, chiptator (in a magazine article describing Saddam Hussein's love for Doritos), labradoodle, and pick-podding (stealing someone's iPod).

    JenB December 10th, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    My favorite word is Octopus. It reminds me of my father asking my sister what we wanted from the sea. We told him and octopus and I still remember how it felt crawling up my arm when I was 6. They are the most amazing creatures.

    Sara December 10th, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    monosyllabic -- there's something beautifully ironic about a five-syllable word used to describe a word with one syllable.

    Marueen December 10th, 2008 at 2:55 pm


    It's such a great word, and you hardly ever get to use it, but I think it would apply to the OED!

    Kate December 10th, 2008 at 3:04 pm


    Because my Grandad taught me it when I was 14 yrs old. I subsequently used it as often as I could and to the stunned silence of my friends (sometimes out of context, but how were they to know!).

    For all you word-lovers out there.... here's a website to test your word definitions and to donate rice to the UN food program

    Jo December 10th, 2008 at 3:15 pm


    I am drawn to this word because I am one. I'm the person eavesdropping on your conversation in the museum and correcting the information you just gave your child. I cheered when Woody Allen shamed the opinionated movie-goer in "Annie Hall" by pulling Marshall McLuhan from the wings to correct his misrepresentation of McLuhan's theories. I'm the person at the cocktail party who always knows that odd little factoid that makes everyone say "No kidding! I never realized that!"

    I am not pedantic because I want to be, but because I am compelled to be. It's what I am, at my core. Fortunately, I channel my pedantry for constructive purposes, as a college professor. But my business card should read "professional pedant".

    The first time I read the definition of "pedant", I knew I had found home.

    Jason December 10th, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    describes me--quiet, not spoken, understood

    Amos December 10th, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Inconceivable. Points to the vast range of phenomena outside the reach of the conceptual mind. Contains the question, "can we know that which we cannot conceive?" My favorite use of the word is in the film "The Princess Bride"--

    Inigo Montoya: You are sure nobody's follow' us?
    Vizzini: As I told you, it would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable. No one in Guilder knows what we've done, and no one in Florin could have gotten here so fast. - Out of curiosity, why do you ask?
    Inigo Montoya: No reason. It's only... I just happened to look behind us and something is there.
    Vizzini: What? Probably some local fisherman, out for a pleasure cruise, at night... in... eel-infested waters...
    [In the boat in the morning]
    Inigo Montoya: He's right on top of us. I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using.
    [Vizzini has just cut the rope The Dread Pirate Roberts is climbing up]
    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Erin December 10th, 2008 at 4:08 pm


    Most people are aware that groups of animals have been given an array of clever monikers – from a murder of crows to a crash(!) of rhinos – but I think the fact that baby living things also get fantastic names is less-often noted.

    Elvers are baby eels. Get past the elfin imagery the word first evokes, and you'll realize it sounds just like the faintly sinister, silvery-quick thing it signifies.

    Elver, elver,

    bottom dweller

    bare your tiny teeth.

    Jane December 10th, 2008 at 4:34 pm


    I've loved it ever since Shelley Duvall used it repeatedly in the movie LA Story. She just made it sound hilarious.

    Jessica December 10th, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Peon. I was well into my twenties before I realized that it wasn't spelled "pee-on" and literally meant a person below everyone else was therefore peed on.

    Anna Mentzer December 10th, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Palimpsest. There is something sensual and mysterious about the rubbing smooth and rewriting of history. Experience turns us all into solitary palimpsests. It is something we have in common with Rome, the Mona Lisa, forensic science, Google, Cicero and Coldplay. It is a thing that could divide civilizations and individuals by its negative qualities, as is proven concretely in the Middle East tragedies, and in society's reaction to graffiti writing. It ties us together in Wiki pages, dry erase boards and carvings in picnic tables. It is my favorite word.

    Sylvia J. December 10th, 2008 at 6:36 pm


    At last, we have an expanded word usage that recognizes and promotes acceptance of the fact that even very small groups of people can have identifiably similar beliefs, expectations, and manners of working and (or) living. The best thing about the current use of this word is that it is not in itself judgmental. And, current usage recognizes that the term may only apply to a fragment of a person's life, such as one's "work culture." For example, one might make a determination that "I just cannot fit into the 'culture' of a high tech company, big city law firm, etc..." Or, one may find that the "culture" of a small mountain town is very appealing. Previously, the word "culture" was used more often to describe claimed characteristics of vast populations (such as the "culture" of the people of North America." Any useful meaning was usually lost by such over-inclusiveness. So, thank goodness for helping us all recognize that as individuals, we may not fit into a job for no fault of our (or "their") own. Or perhaps we just crave the "culture" of the another workplace or neighborhood. Maybe the increased use of the word helps us to recognize and understand ourselves and others, as individuals.

    Trish December 10th, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    My mind is a labyrinth of many thoughts. Many combine to make the things I am interested in, and some are so full of mazes stacked on top of each other I'd never find my way out again if I entered that labyrinth.
    The word I most love using is labyrinth. A maze of many things.

    ddddddDebF December 10th, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    I obsess over the word "unfurl" and try to use it as often as possible. Many have no clue what it means; it often confuses those who hear it. It means to release from a furled state - isn't that fantastic! What does "furl" mean? Is it a verb? Noun? Adjective? The fun never stops with unfurl!!!

    Kali December 10th, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    When I was four, my absolute favorite word was 'alcohol'.
    "What a strange word for a young lady to fall in love with," you may think. "The vulgar drink of adults."
    But we had a love affair, alcohol and I. I recall stepping out of the car after preschool, singing, "Alcohol," carefully enunciating each syllable, "A-l-c-o-h-o-l". A funny word, and I could spell it.
    A few years later, my preferences shifted, and the new favorite word, I could spell this one too, was 'mysterious'. I liked its mysteriousness.
    Now, I enjoy most words, learning new ones and rediscovering old ones, but whether or not I can spell the words doesn't hold so much meaning anymore.

    Andrew Gregg December 10th, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    "A feeling of intense indignation (now used only in the phrase 'in high dudgeon')"

    It comes from the type of wood that used to be used for dagger hilts. I like it because is sounds very similar to 'dungeon' and would be the state of a person who is or was being held there.

    Flower December 10th, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    My word is "Whosifots". It's a word my Mother used often when refering to someone whose name slipped her mind. With 7 children running around this happen often.
    My son has since given Whosifots a face. So I guess since it has a definition and
    discription it could be real. Anyway I always liked the word.

    Michael Cox December 10th, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    Plangent--although I didn't truly know what it meant until this contest inspired me to look it up. It's the sound of it, the way the tongue presses against the front of the roof of the mouth for the "L" and then alights further back on the roof of the mouth for the reverberating "N". Like so many words in the English language (as opposed to English words), the very word is its definition: in this case, plangent is something loud or resonating, perhaps plaintive, while the OED online also notes that an older, now archaic use of teh word was for a "beating, roaring, or crashing sound," much like another favourite word, susuration, or a "rustling murmur." Most often encountered, at least here on the west coast, when walking along the pebbled beaches on Whidbey Island, eyes closed, perhaps, listening to the susurration of the waves as they massage the pebbles along the shore.

    Michael Cox December 10th, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Corrections: "the" for my typical typo, teh; and susurration has two "r's"...oh for a twenty-volume dictionary so that I might spell myself such errors!

    annie December 10th, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    I love that the word is so joyous, celebratory and expressive. I guess that I do find myself using it when I'm especially wowed by something, as I found myself on the receiving end of a surprising compliment from my three-year-old daughter after giving her a bite of a very yummy chocolate dessert that I had made.
    "Mmmmm, spec-tac-u-lar, Mama!"
    Yes, spectacular indeed!

    Sayluhvee December 11th, 2008 at 2:51 am

    My word: spondulix
    slang for money

    W. C. Fields in one of his movies: Ahh! The elusive spondulix...
    (possibly heard from various candidates, too)

    JOHN T. December 11th, 2008 at 6:46 am

    An opposite of what one would assume but not really know what the word meant. Most offhand thoughts would tend toward the meaning 'to energize'; however, the meaning of the word is the opposite meaning--'lacking in physical, mental or moral energy'(a sort of antonymic homophone). J.K.Rowling twists the word a bit in her Potter books by putting an 'R' at the beginning and using 'Rennervate' as a spell to 'awaken' Dumbledore from some curse in the "Half Blood Prince"; once again turning the word 180 degrees in meaning.
    I just find this type of word in the English language so interesting and was always hoping that our 'brilliant' President Bush would attempt to use it in a sentence. "Foam again"

    Tara December 11th, 2008 at 7:02 am

    oubliette--from the French, literally "a place of forgetting" (as in a dungeon with no escape). Featured in the classic 1980s film "Labyrinth" (another great word!).

    Robert R Snapp December 11th, 2008 at 7:22 am

    infinite - can a word be more inclusive?

    Karen December 11th, 2008 at 8:20 am


    It means what it sounds like... an almost physically tangible word that can be both beautiful and positive or angry and negative... a mass of small bubbles - be it the ocean's foam gathering on the shore, your cappuccino top, the nonsense coming from a conversation, the anger in the corner of someone's mouth, the bottom of a wedding dress...

    Michelle December 11th, 2008 at 9:18 am


    Although I pronounce this "auntiethesis". It means the direct opposite and I apply that to my life. Like my mom always said "If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you?"

    Andi December 11th, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Superfluous - mostly because so many words are.

    name December 11th, 2008 at 9:56 am


    I love the word, but I also love it in the workplace.

    Chris Reed December 11th, 2008 at 10:20 am


    It just sounds so much better than using "wrongdoing" or other such words. Mal really has that effect on words. Whenever I hear it, I see Dwight Schrute (played by Rainn Wilson) from "The Office" ranting about all the malfeasance taking place at their workplace.

    Alex December 11th, 2008 at 10:21 am

    I "enjoy" the recherché word apolaustic, because it is the primary reason I visit Powell's so often as well as how I will feel when I receive this volume set!

    Nadia December 11th, 2008 at 10:32 am

    I love words that roll off of the tongue in an interesting way and words that are extremely tailored to different situations. One that I, without fail, try to drag into any social setting, is "lethologica." I love the way it sounds, the simplicity of its construction matched with the precision of its meaning.

    Mostly, I love that there exists a word to describe the inability to remember a word, that this word is itself complex enough to be itself (i.e., you could use lethologica to describe your inability to remember the word lethologica, if only you could remember it!), and that it rarely is already a known word when used and thus you have to explain it so that others can appreciate its nifty qualities.

    MMm Molly Pace December 11th, 2008 at 10:42 am

    Mi word is maybe, because there is always a chance.

    kristine December 11th, 2008 at 10:56 am

    (slang n. liveliness; spirit; excitement)
    i like this word because it has onomatopoeic qualities. also, jazz is my favorite music.

    mandrake December 11th, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Ineffable - not only does it sound cool and is used in TS Eliot's "Book of Practical Cats", but it's a word that manages to negate itself, because once you use it to describe anything, it no longer applies to the thing you described. That probably says something about language as a whole, but I don't know what.

    Sam December 11th, 2008 at 11:25 am

    The word of the season must be 'avuncular.' A word pertaining to uncles and their traits, it shoulders through our language and literature. Dylan Thomas tells us that there are always uncles at Christmas; Charles Dickens gives us the cranky, crochety Uncle Scrooge who is the Spirit of Christmas until the day itself when he becomes awash with post-ghost serenity and glowing good will; Shakespeare traumatizes us with the ultimate lack of avuncularity (oh, perfect variation!) in Claudius, and Tom Stoppard drops the actual word on us in his inside-out Hamlet. I want to be avuncular. My name demands I be avuncular. And I wonder, every time I use it, if there isn't a corresponding word for the qualities of an aunt.

    Miriam December 11th, 2008 at 11:44 am

    Cloaca - it's a fun word to pronounce, and I'm still debating with my husband whether or not he has one. If you consider it a "multipurpose hole," then yes, yes he does.

    Maura December 11th, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Pumpernickle! I think it is such a fun word to say, very pleasing to the mouth. And the definition is a bit childish but funny (devil's fart). Hard to work this one in anywhere except the deli, but it still remains as one of my favorites.

    Ted December 11th, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Equilibrate Redolent of the second law of thermodynamics, it tumbles easily off the tongue yet remains as precise and curt as a military order.

    Nancy December 11th, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    As I write, odd words pop into my mind. When did I pick up the word 'inimical' which the Oxford consise dictionary (1927) says means 'harmful'?

    Or earlier today I found myself mouthing the word 'endemic' which means 'native'.

    There is a question: will what you are fretting about be important in 10 years? Will anyone remember it 100 years from now? What I'm fretting about happened 20 years ago, and the parties still fret. We will resolve it soon, I hope. Simular events happened in my ancestry in 1870. I remember as I'm the keeper of family stories. Words are important. They are powerful. Use them wisely, use them with love.

    Jesse Green December 11th, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    urgency is the disobedient child of an eager call. Beseech is the uncle that always shows up late to dinner parties.

    Morgan Curtis December 11th, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    pusillanimous - missed that one on the GRE and it stuck with me: cowardly

    lola VanDupe December 11th, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    My favorite word to look up in the dictionary, is "Run" Ever seen the number of entries? Cool

    Staci December 11th, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    NINCOMPOOPERY... my new favorite word. I've always loved the word "nincompoop" (I first heard it on Sesame Street & got in trouble as a child for using it to describe my little sister) but only recently learned "nincompoopery." Now, not only do I have a great word for idiots, I have a great word for the idiotic things they do!

    Ali December 11th, 2008 at 8:40 pm


    It was the nickname for my son in utero and it just feels amazingly appropriate as this tiny collection of cells has morphed into a verbose little man by his second birthday.

    His favorite word, of late, is clementine, pronounced "lemontime". :)

    Jim December 11th, 2008 at 8:57 pm


    (adj. - relating or devoted to charity)

    When I was about 10 I heard William F. Buckley, Jr. refer to "eleemosynary institutions" in an interview on "Face The Nation" or some other program of that ilk. I had no idea what the word meant, but it fascinated me - its sound and the fact that Buckley would use such a strange word and expect listeners to understand what he meant.

    I didn't remember this new word well enough to repeat it for an adult who might be able to tell me its meaning, so I asked my parents to buy me a dictionary for my birthday, which was only a week or so away. They did, and I began my search for the word I thought of as "illyamozenary."

    Of course, as most readers will be quick to point out, to effectively use a dictionary the user must be able to spell. When I couldn't find it under what I assumed to be the correct spelling, or any of the variants I came up with, I resorted to the sledgehammer approach - reading the entire "i" section of my new dictionary - twice. When I failed to find it under "i," I moved on to "e." And there, on page 265 of the 1959 edition of "Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary" I finally found it... and a fascination for the myriad other words that I come across during my search.

    While I have subsequently never found a good reason to use this word in conversation, I have always been fond of it because it led me to a deeper appreciation for the richness of our language. Even today I can entertain myself by opening a dictionary at random and reading a page or two.

    p.s. for Kim Yongkul (338 above) Your word is actually a Spanish phrase - "yo la tengo" which means "I've got it." The Mets had a Hispanic outfielder who spoke no English. He and his fellow outfielders were constantly getting each other's way because of the commuication gap between them until the Anglos were taught to call him off of fly balls which were in their territory by shouting "Yo la tengo."

    RobertRobert Webb December 11th, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    Onomatopoeia - As a percussionist and musician, this is the best word in the English Language! It allows me to use words as sounds to help explain a rhythm, melody or harmony. One of my favorite examples is, the name of a Middle Eastern drum is perceived to be named after the sounds it makes; Doumbekh - Doum for the bass tone, and Bekh after the rim tone.

    Dean December 11th, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    vociferate is a favor word meaning to speak or cry out loudly. It has a large sound to indicate its meaning.

    ultrafknbd December 11th, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Moist: because I've always considered it an onomatopoeia.

    Bev E. December 12th, 2008 at 5:48 am

    Whoppie !

    Hands down whoppie is my favorite word. Just saying it makes you happy. Like a verbal roller coaster ride....WHoPPie !!!!!!!!
    You gotta love that.

    whoppie - whoppie - whoppie -whoopie- whoppie
    OK I'll stop now

    whoppie - that's I'm done

    Bill Smith December 12th, 2008 at 8:51 am

    siping - Siping is a process of cutting thin slits across a rubber surface to improve traction in wet or icy conditions.

    I have gone through dozens of tires in my life, and I live in one of the coldest parts of the U.S. (northern Minnesota). We drive on lots of ice. I recently bought a set of Nokian tires made by the Finnish conglomerate because in my opinion, if there are ice-driving experts in the world, they must be Finns. Anyway, while talking to the salesman, he mentioned the tires were siped. Well blow me away! What the heck was that? I researched the answer and now get to use the word every winter when talking about my excellent Nordic tires and traction - which is a big part of life up here.

    Shawna December 12th, 2008 at 9:10 am

    I've got to go with "MOIST" as my favorite word. It's versitile. It sounds really dirty, but isn't. If you Google it, you get racy results aplenty. Yet biologically speaking, most things that are moist are healthy. Plus, it's one of those words that sounds stranger & stranger as you sit there & repeat it to yourself. Go ahead & try it! (Is there a literary term for when repetition warps language like that?)

    Vikki December 12th, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Dirndl. Why? First, it has only one vowel, and it has four consecutive consonants that have no right to be next to each other. But yet it exists. Second, it is ridiculously specific, but yet not. Really, one could refer to any dress or skirt as a "dirndl," but who would? No one but the most pretentious, erudite individuals. It's really a terribly unnecessary word, but yet it's so beautiful.

    Shoshana Shapiro December 12th, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Inasmuch as we are all bibliophiles, perhaps I might interest future commentators to please consider beginning their sentences with capital letters and to employ the occasional punctuation mark where needed. This way, your comments will prove to be as enjoyable to read as you wished them to be. How many of us would purchase a book whose author, in the interest of efficiency, showed little regard for good grammar, the kind that is getting harder to find outside of books. Lastly, may I suggest that there is nothing inherent in an email or a posting online that should make us quick to discard the good manners of writing that we so enjoy.

    Nicole E. December 12th, 2008 at 10:14 am

    LEST! I'm a practical girl, so my favorite is a lively, functional, yet zesty, little word used to join clauses. It has no match and it slips easily off the tongue, but draws attention with its self-punctuating final T. It sprung from our very own Old English, it invites our melting subjunctive mood, and lest you be unaware of its meaning, I've provided an example for you to ponder.

    JaneJane December 12th, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Ointment. For years, a co-worker and I frequently burst into a game of naming
    silly-sounding words. It begins with one person turning to the other with an
    odd smile and saying the word "ointment", and the game is on! Perhaps it's not
    so much the word, but what it represents to us - the acknowledgement of
    our friendship. It certainly makes us smile and laugh, often when we need
    it the most.

    Tracey December 12th, 2008 at 10:28 am

    COVET: Desiring something belonging to someone else

    I love this word! It sounds kinda stern and formal but I use it almost every day in a very informal might say I am even KNOWN for it (hey, it is better than being known as the girl that does not use interesting words!)

    Ex. A PINK pen?? I am totally coveting that right now! (threw that phrase out there yesterday - good for a few chuckles!)
    Man, I am sooo coveting your ability to make yourself look good when you have not done a d#mn thing all day!
    And..let us not forget the Biblical covet...Your boyfriend is hot! I am coveting his nice booty!! So mcuh more polite than, "Hey, your boyfriend has a nice a*s!!" Don't you think?

    Tracey December 12th, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Can a moderator change the "mcuh" in my post to "much" as I intended? Just thought I would ask! Thanks!

    Kirstin Fearnley December 12th, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Zephyr, I think, might qualify as my favorite word, despite my first encountering it in one of my least favorite books, The Scarlet Letter.

    I think I like it so much in part because of its mouth sound. The "z" at the start, the soft "f" sound in the middle, and the swallowed final syllable just make it a fun word to say.

    Plus, it's a noun that just demands an equally colorful, active verb or turn of phrase. You could never say, "The zephyr blew past her." You'd have to say, "The zephyr tugged at her coat like a toddler in urgent need of a toilet."

    Shannon December 12th, 2008 at 11:36 am


    I'm a reading and English teacher and this has to be my most used word in class. I occasionally feel like a recording, but in some educational cases there's nothing like the power of repetition. I once had the mother of a four year-old trying to prompt her son to say, "You're welcome," by asking him, "What does Miss Shannon say?" He contemplated seriously for a moment, and then said, "Focus."

    tk. December 12th, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    "swive": an unfortunately obsolete verb that should be brought back as a polite-company version of a certain versatile four-letter word that also means "to copulate" or "to copulate with". I like it for it's sound, it's obscurity, but mostly because it's rife with amusing possibilities. To wit:

    "Swive off!"
    "I'm not swiving around, here."
    "I'm thoroughly swived."
    "Nice shoes. Let's swive."

    Julia December 12th, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    Clear. I love the way it sounds. I love new beginnings and they usually start by clearing away the old. It's also my favorite color. And it's the sound of relief - the all-clear signal. It's simply a beautiful word in sound and meaning.

    Marie December 12th, 2008 at 2:25 pm


    I love this word. It seems like it should only describe things that are beautiful and perhaps made even more beautiful by their ephemeral nature. It just flows of the tongue.

    mikmikmikuniorange December 12th, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    It's almost onomatopoeic and perfectly describes my first boyfriend.

    Zack December 12th, 2008 at 5:49 pm


    I was hiking through Utah, staying mostly in dry washes and along solid rick to avoid stepping on the cryptobiotic soils (secret-life-dirt), and thinking about all the things that might secretly be alive.

    Not a big fan of favorites though. I could have easily picked conspire, or abstract, or many somethings else. So many great words everyone has. Banjax! Palimpsest! Syzygy! Labyrinth! Hypnagogic!

    Shoshana December 12th, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    Fulvous, which tends to be paired with "whistling-duck." It means tawny, and is a nice companion for "rufous."

    Lyssa December 12th, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    Postprandial. Meaning "after a meal, especially dinner." He took a postprandial walk.

    I am an audiobook producer and don't have much say in which books I'm given to record. After hundreds of books I continue to be surprised and delighted by the number of words unknown to me that I discover in books ranging from the most mundane academic text to epic novels. Postprandial was just the most recent of a long list of fortuitous finds.

    Erin Z December 12th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    The vault of heaven
    This word reminds me of being a child dancing at night outside and wondering what is up there.

    Dana December 12th, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    Twilight. (No I haven't read the books!) Because it is my favorite time of day.

    Dan Griffith December 12th, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    My favorite word is "perspicuity" which I discovered one summer reading a moldy, beat up unabridged three volume set of Edward Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire".

    Reading those volumes made me realize that Gibbon was one of the luckiest guys who ever lived, who had a gentleman's income and didn't have to work, who had all the time in the world to correspond with learned men, and browse the bookstores, libraries of Europe, and read, study, and write. I came to love him.

    My dad never learned to read or write, my mom only was able to go as far as the eighth grade, and the antiquated vocabulary of Gibbon, and well considered prose illuminated new insights for me into the beauty, versatility, and expression of the English language, and how it could reach into the intellect to awaken and stimulate.

    James Foss December 12th, 2008 at 8:50 pm


    Most importantly, soliloquy is fun to say.
    Secondly, soliloquy dominates our dialogue. In this world of the ego we often take the long way around to the point. We offer our innermost thoughts for the most trivial of topics. Most listeners, pause long enough to feign listening and reflection before they begin their own. Many enjoyed Seinfield, George, and Elaine's rants because they were similar to our own.

    Listen for them on bar stools, lecterns, and, of course, without them blogs wouldn't be as fun to read.

    This is my soliloquy.

    DDavid David Hansen December 12th, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    cellar door
    Yes, it is two words and not one, but it also a compound noun so it is sort of like one word.

    It has been my favorite for more than 50 years. As a kid I remember watching the Groucho Marx quiz show 'You Bet Your Life', and one of the contestants on this particular program was a woman named Cellardoor. She explained that her father thought that 'cellar door' contained the most beautiful sounds in the English language and was thus an appropriate choice for her name. I remember thinking "That's right! It is beautiful!" and in that moment it became my favorite word.

    I can't say that I work it into many cocktail party conversations, but it remains especially meaningful to me as a reminder that memorable words as well as an appreciation for language can come from the most unexpected places.

    Prisna Dixit December 12th, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Floccinaucinihilipilification. Yes it is a word, and it apparently means 'assessing something as worthless.' Got it off an episode of the show QI some years ago and haven't been able to forget it since. I love the sound of it. I love how long it is. And I love how much more of an effort it takes to pronounce it than simply saying 'assessing something as worthless.' It's brilliant!

    Pat December 12th, 2008 at 10:45 pm


    why? without resorting to any onomatopoeic roots, the word lives in its sound. it begins and ends with strong consonant-based sounds, m-, -der, interrupted by the movement of -ean- that travels from the mountain of the sharp 'e' to the valley of 'an'. the tonal qualities of 'meander' tell me its meaning: a winding course.

    Michael Wais, Jr. December 13th, 2008 at 2:20 am

    #$@!- verb: to fornicate; exclamation: an utterance of shock or surprise- comes from the etymological anagram "Fornicate Under Command of the King!"

    I like that this word goes well with everything. It reminds me of cooking, but with adding ingredients to a sentence instead of a dish: You just cannot make a sentence bad or a phrase bad by adding this word. (You can make the context bad if you use the word addressing your mom or boss, but that does not make the sentence an "incorrect" form of a sentence. It will still agree no matter how much you add that word. The word by itself is also cool because you can make it into a complete sentence that agrees with no predicate- only a noun or a verb and likely an exclamation point and you have a very bold sentence.)

    I also like that the word is made holy like the utterance "Yahweh" by it's censorship or lack of utterance. Of course that's just because I finished reading about deity names in Philip K. Dick's "The Divine Invasion" and also because my grandfather was jewish so...

    Christian December 13th, 2008 at 2:46 am

    Anodyne....We all need something to alleviate pain, Good word huh?

    Kait December 13th, 2008 at 5:10 am

    sycophant: "one who shows the fig." An interesting that has now become unknown to most English speakers.

    Mike Hyne December 13th, 2008 at 10:59 am

    Ort - table scraps, crumbs
    This word is just fun to look at and fun to say outloud. Simple, precise, unadorned. A wonderful description of something mundane and one that always catches peoples attention. It is also my dogs favorite word, after meat.

    Katie December 13th, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    my favorite new word is yepsen, featured in an article in the new york review of books, referring to the amount you can hold when you put your hands together in a cup shape.

    but one of my all-time favorite words is FUNAMBULIST, meaning a tight rope walker. though the word derives from funis (rope) and ambulist, there is something oddly appropriate about the appearance of "fun" in the word, and i can't help but smile every time i think of how much "fun" i would certainly not be having if someone made me walk across a tight rope.

    ps. my favorite french word is vasistas, referring to a particular type of window....the etymology is what makes this word so dates from the late 18th century, and is a distortion of the german phrase "Was ist das?" meaning "what is that?"....that the french would take such a commonplace german phrase and morph it into a word referring to the kind of window that can be opened so as to talk to someone, and then for them to allow it into the very protected french language, is rather unexpected and amusing.

    Alfred B December 13th, 2008 at 1:45 pm


    A Spanish word of Arabic origin I learned as a child in México, the definition given in older editions of the Vélasquez Dictionary (as my uncle pointed out with a gleam in his eye) was an absurd epiphany:

    "Vulgar imposter pretending to see hidden things although within the bowels of the earth if not covered with blue cloth."

    Alas, recent editions have reduced this to a mere "imposter," though I have since discovered the term is used in geomancy and especially in the art of dowsing or "water-witching" (the "blue cloth" still eludes me.)
    I treasure my battered old copy of the Vélasquez—which remains a wellspring of arcane terminology, strange and fabulously obscure definitions in such time-honored areas of endeavor as knot-tying, sheep-herding and bee-keeping (e.g. "entrencar: to stick rods in a beehive")—yet it was "zahorí" that opened my eyes to the divination of language and etymology, the wonder of dictionaries the world over.

    Maiya December 13th, 2008 at 2:10 pm


    It seems ordinary, but "take" is one of the my favorite words in the English language. Of course, it's a verb that means "to remove," but it's also a verb that can make another verb into the direct object of a noun, like so:
    bathe -> take a bath
    walk -> take a walk
    nap -> take a nap

    Why do I think that's so interesting? Because "take" takes away a verb's action-oriented nature and replaces it with the passive existence of a noun. That's pretty cool.

    Lindsay M December 13th, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    ironical - adjective or as a noun "ironicon". Defined as a coincidence of events that is significant to a conversation or event preceding the incidence in question.

    "Ironical" should be used in place of "irony", "ironic", and "ironically" in most cases; irony defined as the figurative meaning being the opposite of the literal meaning.

    Example 1a) getting a phone call from someone you were just talking about.

    Example 2a) the entire Alanis Morriset song "ironic" where the events described do not represent true irony but rather are "ironical" (some would say just unfortunate). Specifically, 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife. Not really irony as defined.

    Example 3a)

    Esoteric meaning - When a figurative meaning actually means the literal meaning.

    Example 1b) Saying "Boy are my dogs tired!" after completing the iditarod. It is true in that ones feet probably would be tired after standing on a sled all day (figurative meaning) but it is also true literally.

    Ironical can be the stem of "ironically" so that adding this word to the OED would not significantly change common discourse.

    Using ironical in place of "irony", "ironic", and "ironically" when appropriate would leave irony open for cases of true irony.

    Used in a sentence (rather an event) -

    Bob: Let us not take the bus today Joe, I rather feel like walking.
    Joe: Certainly Bob, I could use a bit of exercise myself.
    Bob: (Ignoring the oncoming traffic and crossing the street) AGGGGHHH....Splat!
    Joe: Isn't that ironical, if Bob had decided to take the bus, he wouldn't have been hit by one!

    By ignoring the need for "Ironical" and consistently using "irony", "ironic", and "ironically" inappropriately society runs the risk of losing one of its most beautiful terms. If a legitimate word is not assigned to the colloquial meaning of "irony", "ironic", and "ironically" than the true mean of irony will drift and its current definition will cease to exist.

    Irony and Ironical must be split so that both can have a clear and precise definition. The word ironically might also be spelled two ways so that ironically (adj of ironic) and ironicallie (perhaps the new adj or ironical) can also have clear and precise meanings.

    Gail December 13th, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    rapture: with a small r. It captures passion and joy without sounding perverse or trite.

    Jeffrey December 13th, 2008 at 6:49 pm


    Because it means to adhere as well as the opposite of that--to split apart.

    LindaKelce December 13th, 2008 at 9:00 pm


    Because it sounds good said with a British accent, and it usually means something fun.

    Linda December 13th, 2008 at 9:03 pm


    Because it's probably the first word I learned to read.

    Carl December 13th, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    My favorite word is "haemorrhage" as in, "If you want me to take on your case, you're going to have to start haemorrhaging cash."

    Mark Vraa December 13th, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Obtuse: a word that was used so perfectly in "The Shawshank Redemption". One word described all that was the warden. Could he have been identified more perfectly with any other word?

    Blithe December 14th, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Didactic, for both its sound and its meaning.

    Keith December 14th, 2008 at 8:59 am

    My favorite word is ken.


    It is a simple three letter word that expresses a sophisticated concept.

    The definition of ken is part of my ken.

    Karen Isaacson December 14th, 2008 at 10:35 am

    My fave word is exacerbate. 'To make worse', all in one word.

    frank frank December 14th, 2008 at 11:31 am

    "esurience"--a synonym for greedy. Because it got us to where we are today and is to be avoided in the future.
    Best accompanied by "swag-bellied" as in "swag-bellied esurience."

    frank frank December 14th, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Oops--esurience is not a synoym for greedy, but for a ravenous sort of greed. Previous commentary still

    PPhPhPhyllisSteen December 14th, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Plethora: In a bookstore where the reader has the sense of a garden of delight for as far as the eye may travel.

    T.W. Ambrose December 14th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    "Jakey", This is the word that identifies me and all that is about all I stand for. Jakey is used daily in my work and personal life. Depending on the tone of usage it will justify or explain nearly all aspects of most verbs,nouns and adjectives. ie: "never stack books under a board to make a Jakey table like that.

    Alyson December 14th, 2008 at 3:35 pm


    The whole in one. Infinite and singular. Everything and a single thing at one and the same time. Both a place and those within it. Everything we are and everything we aren't.

    Neil December 14th, 2008 at 4:02 pm


    If. Concise and inspirational. It's a word I think to myself quite often and try to get others to consider as well. Whenever I'm stuck or feeling down "if" can usually get me going again.

    Tiffany Lee Brown December 14th, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    So Josh and I were getting married in ten days, and the vows... the vows were full of lovely, heartfelt, personal stuff, a mixture of the traditional and the idiosyncratic. Like many pieces of writing, though, they weren't quite right. They needed that extra something, that oomph, that je ne sais quois, and I grumbled, why the hell couldn't we have finalized these things six months ago? We piled the dining table with dictionaries and thesauri, late night, overwhelmed, cranky. "How about this?" he asked, nose in my crappy-looking, paperback1987 Roget's. "Evermore," he said.

    Ooh! Evermore! I love evermore, and I love that it's not the sort of word I would expect my fiance' to choose. I love that he will surprise me the rest of my life, with mysteries large and small.

    "Evermore" ain't my favorite word, though. Just after Josh found "evermore," the Mirriam-Webster in my hands fell open of its own accord, or maybe guided by a poltergeist. My eye snagged on an unknown little word halfway down the first column of the left-hand page. "Nidulant." Nidulant! All curled up together in our lil' nest! With a brand new word to play with! That's how I got a new favorite word (ciao, "inadvertently," you darling adverb, you), and how our vows --- and the wedding favor bookmarks we designed --- came to read "Nidulant Evermore."

    The End.

    Sorry this ran on so long... whaddya expect from the kind of nerd who really really wants the full gigantic edition of the OED?

    Tiffany Lee Brown December 14th, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    PS: Maria Who Chose "Exquisite": do you pronounce it the everyday American way (ex-QUIZ-it) or the other way (EX-quiz-it)?


    the person who produced "Exquisite Language" and still pronounces it both ways, like a flip-flopping politician

    Erica December 14th, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    "Stillicide": "A falling of water in drops; a succession of drops."

    I love this word because it is now so rare that Spellcheck marks it in red, and most people would assume the speaker had made it up. Nonetheless, the root word "cide" (to kill) gives the word fatal connotations, and it is a word that spins off meanings just by its sound, meanings unrelated to the literal definition - or are they? The word makes me think of torture, or just a really long April in the Pacific NW. Even its sound, with the repeated "i"s makes me think of the steady drip. drip. drip. of the rain.

    Coincidentally, the only place to find definitions for words like this is the Oxford English Dictionary. And I really want one.

    Hailey December 14th, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    Call me simple, but my favorite word has got to be bugger.
    If I'm at home, alone, not exposed to children, I let loose with creative curses fit for the likes of The Bard himself. When I am at work, however, if I get burned, or stepped on, or if I just bungle something up, I can cry out a simple, "Bugger!" And no one is the wiser to my vulgarity, as I work in America, and not cross the pond.
    So I encourage all you Americans, do not swear in frustration in public, but cry out a bugger, bollocks, or a simple bloody hell, and keep your potty mouth a sly secret.

    L.N. Hammer December 14th, 2008 at 6:52 pm


    The smell of earth upon first being wet after long drought. Living in the desert Southwestern states, that smell is wonderful -- it means water's here, that life can burst again after waiting and hording for weeks, or months. In different places, it's different vegitable volitiles that cause petrichor -- sagebrush, chimisa, creosote. Here, it's the latter, and it's my favorite wet-earth smell. Petrichor.


    pampa pamela wiggins December 14th, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    My favorite word is perfect. Yes, that's it- perfect. I mean really, how can one get better than that? Perfect. It is so satisfying- perfect. Practically perfect in every way just like Mary Poppins. :)
    By the way my favorite phrase is "whatever you want, Pam"- sounds perfect to me...if only I heard it more often!
    Happy Holidays one and all.

    Richard Busch December 14th, 2008 at 7:16 pm


    I have loved this word since hearing it used by Eric Idle..."an almost Proustian display
    of modern existentialist football". Can be used whenever you need a three syllable

    MissM December 14th, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Mesmerize. Mesmerize. Mesmerize. Mesmerizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    1. Any word with an m AND a z sounds special, is special. 2. It does not come from some old Roman guy, or other unknown hordes of peoples roaming Europe in ancient times grunting out random utterances. It was not handed down to us through the ages, packaged and repackaged until it is no longer recognizable. It was named for a person - someone mysterious, mystical, magical, perhaps even menacing. 3. It was the music that mesmerized Dr. Mesmer's patients, nee, drove them mad. The music. The eerie, ethereal, mysterious music. The glass armonica. The music. The method. The madness. How can you not love a word with so much mystery emanating from it smooth, mellow, zinging sound. The doctor will see you now.

    John Russell December 14th, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Epic. As in Epic Fail. Put it in front of anything, and you win at life. Epic Win!

    Andrea December 15th, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Eldritch. It is what it sounds like.

    Annie December 15th, 2008 at 1:27 am

    #1 word = Ergo. Hardly anyone uses it anymore, the first time I ever heard it was when I was a freshman in high school reading Shakespeare, and I use it regularly to this day. Ergo; it works in conversation, in debate, in storytelling. It's great for everything.

    #2 and #3 uniquity and erroneous. I've had people argue with me about uniquity before but I love it, its a strange word but honestly if more people realized it existed they would start throwing it around all the time, and erroneous is just great to use in an argument, its just ridiculous sounding enough that you can either laugh or make someone feel really dumb when using it. ;-)

    Tim Volem December 15th, 2008 at 7:58 am

    My choice of word is: sockdolager. It means something stupendous and it's considered a slang term, with an unknown origin. One could, for example, describe a remarkable thunderstorm as "a real sockdolager." I first encountered the word randomly on my honeymoon, decades ago. One of our road trip diversions was to open the onboard Merriam Webster and arbitrarily choose a word. "Sockdolager" came up in Arizona's Oak Creek Canyon, and we found ourselves enjoying its use, its sound. Some time later, I encountered the word when re-reading "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,"discovering Huck himself using "sockdolager" to describe something- maybe it was even a thunderstorm over the mighty Mississippi.Of course, Twain's novel is clearly itself a sockdolager.

    Lisa Karelis December 15th, 2008 at 9:03 am

    The word is maybe. Maybe I can find a cure for cancer. Maybe we can get to the moon in 10 years. Maybe I can grow up to be president. Maybe opens up endless possibilities.

    Mrs. Herbert December 15th, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Boy I am really in need of the dictionary to translate the other posts. We read many books, love words, and need a dictionary. My husband keeps asking "where is the dictionary?" It would be hard to lose the OED.

    Matt Shick December 15th, 2008 at 10:12 am

    My favorite word... defenestrate: to eject or throw forcefully from a window. I've loved this word since my 10th grade Latin vocabulary book introduced me to the word 'fenestra' (window).

    I'll never forget the glorious day at summer camp when one of my campers, exceedingly frustrated with his flashlight, chucked the useless thing right out the window. I asked him why he defenestrated the flashlight and he asked me why counselors could use "dirty words" when the campers couldn't. That occasion marks the only time I've been able to appropriately work my favorite word into everyday speech.

    Linda December 15th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Miasma: Sounds like it could be something soothing- not the poisonous/noxious thing it really is. Also came across it literally dozens of times within a short period some years ago. An odd word to have crop up a lot!

    Linda December 15th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    And for German word... Gluehbirne (umlaut over the U), literally glow or glowing pear... for lightbulb. I love that! How better to describe a lightbulb? And if you just think of the English word, it still makes sense... a light source in the shape of a bulb (as in tulip bulb). Language just is so great. If one had never seen a light bulb, so didn't know what it was... but knew the natural world, then what else would you do so name it? It sends out light and it is shaped like ____?

    Cindy December 15th, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    I call my dog "poo poo butt."
    When I'm at work, I'll say somebody is, "full of poo."
    "Oh, POO!" "I'm a Poo-head, I goofed!"

    It just works perfect for the other word I can't say in public and look like a semi-professional.

    heather December 15th, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    susurus... because the letter /s/ is one of the most amazing sounds to me. I am deaf and received a cochlear implant last year. one of the first things I noticed when I was activated was that /s/ is loud... it clarifies connected speech in a way I never dreamed possible for me. it's amazing. the word "susurus" with all of it's beautiful /s/'s is music. with my implant, I can hear the whispers of my children, of the trees, of the wind. this word says it all.

    cloud cuckoo world... more than one word, I know, but I think the phrase, goofy as it is, succinctly describes life.

    Lydia December 15th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    My word would have to be beautiful.
    It describes so many things and mean something visual, auditory, or anything else almost. It can describe family, friends, flowers. It can be used in so many ways. I love it.

    Rosemary Lombard December 15th, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    "Anemone" is practically a poem all by itself, both in its sound---the sensual nasals in their iambic lilt--and in the vision of the flowers and flower-mocking tidepool animals it evokes. My favorite species it describes, both in sound and sight, is "bush anemone," a longer poem, whose name I love to repeat together and in pieces as basso ostinato in improvised group poems. It blows through the texture like the hint of wind from the folk etymology of a generic anemone.

    David Simpson December 15th, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    Euphonious. I love a word that lives up to its own definition. This one is melodic or sweet sounding. It also sets up its antonym cacaphonous which sounds foul and rough as its roots would suggest.

    tess December 15th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    ignis fatuus - I try to bring up this word whenever possible, which isn't often. It literally translates to 'foolish fire'. I think is has a nice ring to it!

    Michael Haire December 15th, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    maladroit, Working in a large metropolitan hospital as a service worker I see plenty of grace from one and all, but plenty of the opposite too.

    Nate Brown December 15th, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    sesquipedalian. the meaning is in the word, and irony to boot.

    Sue December 15th, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Eucalyptus sounds funny, which is worth bonus points. Ask a five year old which word sounds better, eucalyptus, or mayo. Five year olds will always tell the truth.

    Also, Eucalyptus tastes like love when your mother douses a spoonful of sugar with eucalyptus oil for you to swallow when you have a cold.

    Besides, Koalas devour the stuff, so it has to be good.

    Nancy W. December 15th, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    For today my favorite word is ubiquitous. First because I like the way it rolls off my tongue. Second because so many things are ubiquitous. Now I've typed it so many times it's not looking like an actual English word. I may need to choose another.

    fffffffffffff helen maggie carr December 16th, 2008 at 7:28 am

    My favorite word is "perseverate." Anyone with a touch of OCD can appreciate this word, because it so wonderfully sums up what you do when you obsess about something--you keep going back over it again and again, as if the record player needle is stuck in a groove. You're annoyed as hell, but there it is, beginning another loop, playing through your mind.

    Kris J December 16th, 2008 at 8:10 am

    Bliss - because, as Terry Pratchett said, (paraphrased) it sounds the way you would expect bliss to feel.

    And for the rarity of the actual feeling.

    Paula Swenson December 16th, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Periwinkle -- I love words, all of 'em and especially names for colors, I was that annoyingly precocious 3 year-old who, when asked about her crayons, said things like "that isn't green, it's chartreuse!" but periwinkle has such a lovely sound, is a delightful color and has a great etymology, so if I have to pick just ONE word, periwinkle fills the bill.

    Daniel Tratos December 16th, 2008 at 9:12 am


    The word shows not only the ability of the English language to put words to the most wonderful of things, but also, given it's late addition to the lexicon, that there is always room for growth.

    S. Grisham December 16th, 2008 at 9:47 am


    Because it's hilarious.

    David L December 16th, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Hapless – While it is a pleasure to say, I like this word even more for what it says, and the way that it says it. Hapless is built on an archaic and little used word, hap, it expresses the absence of this word, and the result is a word which seems to be eternally relevant. In addition, hapless has always seemed to me to be much more sympathetic than any of its synonyms.

    Kristina Estrada December 16th, 2008 at 10:37 am

    My favorite word is:

    It's something that I try to work on every day & my dad & grandpa would always remind me!

    MM Meg Vann December 16th, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Orange is my favorite word. My favorite color plus- it doesn't rhyme with any other words. Orange is a trail blazer, never a cutsie follower.

    J.D. Dowd December 16th, 2008 at 11:44 am


    The first time I ran across the word in a novel ("a slow, sad, susurrous..."), I was struck by it. After looking it up--for I hadn't a clue to its meaning--I couldn't help repeating it. It has a simple etymology--coming from the Latin susurrus, to whisper.

    It must be onomatopoeic in origin. Just saying the Latin word, to me, captures the sound of whispering perfectly.

    At any rate, I was immediately captivated. Now the word slides into conscious thought every time I hear the rustle of pine needles or the distant whisper of the surf.

    As far as ridiculously specialized words go, I have always felt that sesquipedalian perfectly embodies what it was created to describe--literally, words that are a "foot-and-a-half" long.

    Thanks for this contest. It gave me a reason to remember a couple of my favorite words.

    The One True b!X December 16th, 2008 at 11:48 am


    Oddly enough, because of an OED definition I once read: "In critical path analysis, the amount of time by which a particular event may be delayed without delaying the achievement of the overall objective."

    Joe Martin December 16th, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Esurient - This word means hungry, greedy, and gluttonous. It is a word that is, alas, all too appropriate in these times during which we witness the vast economic carnage wrought by the rapacity and recklessness of the esurient gorbs of Wall Street and eslewhere.

    Lioness December 16th, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    It is an old word, and one that is in danger of disappearing altogether. It means short, stout, squat. But then, of course it did. It had to, didn't it? Look at it.
    What else could it mean?

    Marcus Hibdon December 16th, 2008 at 1:44 pm


    Simply because the word reminds me of a battle-tested Pug - the greatest, toughest little pugilists on the whole planet.

    mizmary61 December 16th, 2008 at 2:17 pm


    Forces me to relax and imagine myself drifing in a boat on a pond with my hand trailing in the water. The day is perfect and I have not a care in the world.

    leonor lopez December 16th, 2008 at 4:02 pm


    it sounds like something to eat, but isn't.

    Kayla December 16th, 2008 at 4:03 pm


    Just as no two snowflakes are alike, we are like no one else. I think thats extraordinary and amazing.
    We are all united by our talents, life callings, and dreams but we are each unique because all of our talents, life callings and dreams are and will be different.
    This word makes me feel creative and alive.

    Too short December 16th, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    My all-time favorite word is "ukase," originally an edict of the Russian czar, it has come to mean any arbitrary command, especially from a supreme authority. I first encountered this word at the end of a magazine page. I assumed the typesetter had forgotten a hyphen after the second syllable of what must be a longer word; I flipped the page back and forth a few times and finally turned to the OED for a definition.
    The beauty of the OED is that it reveals the evolution of a word over time, rendering clear the murky terms and usages we encounter and deploy every day. I loved ukase because it confused me, and treasure it for the reminder that what is unfamiliar is often the most valuable.

    Debra December 16th, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Solstice. One word that signals both an ending and a beginning. A word that means the sun stands still. What follows may be a slow slide into long, cold nights or the joyous return of light, warmth and new life. To be continued.

    Stef December 16th, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Write. Without this word, no dictionary would ever exist.

    Megan W. December 16th, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    abaction: to steal cattle on a grand scale.

    I think of candidates trying to win the masses in elections, of McDonald's hamburgers and those of us who eat them, of Hermes stealing Apollo's cattle the day he was born. It seems an appropriate word for everyday in our current society, yet connects my thoughts to so many myths and origins of Western culture. Such an easy word for metaphorical use, abaction slips into my mind with a little irony anytime I hear about a new public fad or product on the market. Anytime I see a cattle trailer on the highway, abaction smirks at me. Its also a wonderful word to use alliteratively in poetry and has that harsh sound to it that makes a word stand out in a phrase. Abaction is much too powerful and ironic a word for such an innocent definition. Yet, the best words usually are understatements...

    Dalili December 17th, 2008 at 3:21 am


    My favorite word because many bias their life's decisions on the facts, but have little interest in TRUTH. Most avoid the Truth at all costs: making excuses for why it is inappropriate-- rationalizing why they lied. Consequently, there is grave error made and justified evils accompanied by fact rather than Truth(Fidelity;sincerity;).


    K Magill December 17th, 2008 at 7:14 am

    My current favorite word comes courtesy of a month-long backpacking trip I took this summer. You know the stunted spruces that grow at high elevations, near the timberline? The ones that look like gnarled little dwarfs? They are known as KRUMMHOLZ, a German word which literally translates to "crooked wood". Such vegetation is also known as elfinwood, which is a great word as well, but krummholz captures the character of those trees so perfectly. Now that I'm stuck at home and pining for the mountains, I don't get to say krummholz as often as I'd like--so I'm jumping at the chance!

    Karivel December 17th, 2008 at 8:51 am


    I love the descriptive power and relative obscurity of the term. I also entertain the suspicion that familiarity with the term may relegate me to being defined by it.

    Tom M.Tom M. December 17th, 2008 at 9:02 am

    Crwth. As far as I am aware it is only one of two words in the English language that does not have an a,e,i,o,u or y as a vowel. To date, I have only been able to locate the word in one version of an Oxford English Dictionary which my father had many years ago. It means "crowd".

    Allison December 17th, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Obsequious-- because for some reason i used to confuse it with omnipotent (another favorite word, mostly owing to my mispronunciation of it in 12th grade), it sounds different to me, more slippery, than its meaning, which is to be almost obsessively obedient.

    Someone who has control over their level of attentiveness or service to another-- so it's stronger than someone who is a servant. Maybe it IS slippery, like a snake... anyway, it's a word that makes me think, like so many,and most of all I like its sound.

    Greg Kemppainen December 17th, 2008 at 11:26 am

    “Momus” is the Greek god of blame, ridicule, mockery, censure, satire, writers and poets. Momus was exiled from Mt. Olympus because of his constant criticism of the gods. He is usually depicted in classical art as lifting a mask from his face. He was the son of Night (Nyx). A momus is also a person that blames and ridicules others.

    I love the way the sound of some words, like momus, are able to convey their meaning without a definition. Mythological terms can sometimes bring a sense of ancient history or legendary significance to words that modern jargon cannot compete with. I have enjoyed using the word momus for the past 25 years because most people do not know its definition and those that are curious, go look it up.

    Peter Ravn Rasmussen December 17th, 2008 at 11:54 am

    My favourite word in English? It has to be "yes".

    It's a word that is full of power:
    "Yes, I will help you."
    "Yes, you may."
    "Yes, we can!"
    "Yes, yes, yes! Oh, yes!"

    It is the word your mother said to you, hopefully far more often than she said "no". It is the word you hope to hear when you ask for something. It is the word your lover whispers (or maybe screams) when he or she is in your arms. It is the most powerful word in the world.

    My word is YES.

    Todd W. December 17th, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    My favorite word: "rendezvous."

    Such a lovely word, full of mystery, intrigue, romance, emotion, warmth, comfort, even suspense.

    It is a word used to describe the bringing together of people (especially if it's in the cover of darkness, bringing in that mystery element I mentioned -- don't you just see it in your mind's eye?). It's also a word to describe the approach of two spacecraft together in space -- remember the rendezvous efforts needed to bring together Gemini and Apollo spacecraft together in the 1960s so NASA could prepare for lunar landings?

    Imagine what a little rendezvous will do for you.

    Now, you also asked about my choice for the strangest, or most useful, or most ridiculously specific word in all of the English language?

    For that, I would say "burble." It is strange, yet specific and can be very useful in describing a strange noise of movement. It's a "burble." It just works.

    Renee December 17th, 2008 at 1:03 pm


    Because the meaning never changes, but what it describes always does.

    Greg December 17th, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    697 and counting! What a PLETHORA of HUMDINGERs!

    My humble offering: WRY

    It is with WRY amusement that I consider:

    1)The amount of time I spent scanning all the earlier entries, to make sure no one else had put forward my favorite.

    2)The SCHADENFREUDE I experienced when I encountered repetitions of earlier choices.

    3)The DISAPPOINTMENT of finding a wonderful word (and there were many of them) I wish I had thought of.

    4)The smugness with which I read what I considered the hopelessly SESQUIPEDALIAN and outre offerings.

    5)The nonetheless renewed awe and gratitude for the richness, beauty, ELEGANCE and adaptablility of our WORD HOARD.

    Bless you, all you logophiles and lexicophiles!

    CCccc Ceil December 17th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Cleave - a word that simultaneously means to "To part or divide by a cutting blow; to split." as well as its opposite "To cling or hold fast to; to attach oneself; to adhere". I've always loved the delicious paradox of it, plus is sounds lovely.

    Lynda G December 17th, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    SYZYGY is my submission for three important reasons.
    One, it is an elegant word that describes a physical phenomenon that makes our commonplace world more enchanting and mystical.
    Two, every time I use the word I fondly remember the dear lady who taught it to me many years ago. May her soul rest in peace.
    Three, it is only included in a really good dictionary - like the Oxford English!

    Don Bosler December 17th, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    My favorite word is really the lack of a word.
    The word ineffable is my choice.
    This is the word we use when there is no
    other way to describe what we see, feel or
    experience. It is a bailout word, allowing
    us to say we don't know what exactly we mean
    to say.
    It is also a wonderful word to pronounce.

    Sandy Sandy December 17th, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    My word is Sage. Not only as a delightful spice, as a wise person, but my last name.

    James C. December 17th, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    Corrigendum - for times when "erratum" isn't fancy enough. I love the way this word sounds and feels when you say it.

    Pati R December 17th, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    It is probably common but I love the word "serendiptious" not only for the way it feels on my tongue and sounds when I say it but also for the meaning which implies utter unexpected happiness!

    Casey J Rudkin December 17th, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    My favorite word is a medical term: salpingooophorectomy. It means removing the ovary and falopian tube together, and if you have both sides done it is a bilateral salpingooophorectomy.

    And why do I love this term? How can you not love three legally-placed Os in the middle of a word? Yes, it can be hyphenated, but it is perfectly legit and beautiful all smooshed together into a Triple O mess. Look it up - triple O = fair play = lexophilic fun. If only you could get enough Scrabble tiles to play it.

    Truly, salpingooophorectomy is a masterpiece deserving of an O-vation from O-ED.

    ddddddMary E. December 17th, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Intrepid! The word that allows me, a mundane worker bee, to become bold and bodacious, spunky and stalwart, transforming me from a meek and timid typist to the gritty and gutsy adventure-reading belle of the breakroom.

    Kristin December 17th, 2008 at 4:01 pm

    Whisper! A Room With A View's closing chapter says, "They sank upon their knees, invisible from the road, they hoped, and began to whisper one another's names." What a lovely little book.

    Nancy December 17th, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    I've got to go with fuck. It's most frequently used as an emphatic, yet it retains so much power to unnerve and offend, and it's not even derogatory. It can provide great insight if you observe reactions to its use. And an infix to boot- unfuckingbelievable!!!

    Charles December 17th, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Viva. "V" is my favorite letter, and I get two of them in this short word.

    Adam Schafer December 17th, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    astragal- this is the only thing I have ever built before I knew it had a name.

    Kori December 17th, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Well, somebody already stole loquacious, which would have been my first choice, so I will have to go with lisp. I'm sure I'm a bad person for finding it so amusing, but it's just cruel to put an "s" in this word such that the very people who suffer from it find it difficult just to say it.

    eLisa December 17th, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Many people have already selected some of my very favorite words.... as a word junkie, it's hard to pick just one. Today I used one of my favorites: flummoxed... I also like its synonym perplexed.

    Jim Tichenor December 17th, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    Agenbite. I'm fascinated by all kinds of words but I must confess that once having encountered Leopold Bloom's obsession with the phrase "agenbite of inwit" I was never the same. I suppose it must be the Saxon resonance of the word and its powerful meaning that make it irresistible to me. In any event it's far more haunting than its modern equivalent, "remorse of conscience".

    BradBrad December 17th, 2008 at 9:11 pm

    Yes- weather in a fight, in court or just every day is there a better word

    Ali December 17th, 2008 at 10:20 pm


    Alasdair Gray first made me pay attention to it; as a part of "Five Letters From An Eastern Land" he writes about poetry, and how at the center of every poem is a conjunction which is the poetic occasion. "But" and "if" are the most important of these, he says.

    If connotes delicious stipulation, turning favor, a promise on the verge of closing up like a sensitive anemone. It's the beginning of hope and of despair, the guardian of willful possibility, or of volition slipping loose at last.

    If is a marvel of functional form; its context is prolix but its form is compact. From its slim columns hang liminal veils which overwhelm any clause they approach. "I would love you, if I had any reason to." how much worse this than "..., when I have..." or even "..., yet I never will!"

    Some other ifs in their natural habitats:

    "Here is the key, if you want it." The inquisitorial if springs a trap on he who accepts this offer, while relieving she who offers of responsibility.

    "It's not so bad if you like that sort of thing." The indifferent if masks too-strong preference or tasteless eagerness with its antumbra of possibility.

    "What would you do if I sang you a song?" The rhetorical if fights for freedom in intimate planes. A harsher conjunction (because? unless?) would force an appropriate or logical reply, but "if" allows for greater depth, delicacy, evasion, and conversely, sincerity, in response.

    A few of many possible examples. I am sure the OED has thousands of others catalogued. If--

    Tom Dorman December 18th, 2008 at 12:14 am

    "Balustrade" is by far the sexiest word in the English language. I first came across this word in a poem I do not even remember, but I do remember, like it was yesterday, or perhaps this morning, that I was falling in love with Kathy Grawet at that same time. Kathy was the young secretary of housing whose office was in my dormitory at the University of Colorado in 1982. She was given to wearing backless dresses, even in winter; she was, to my eyes, a vision of loveliness; and she was Queen Bess while I was not even qualified to be a spear-carrier for the Earl of Leicester.

    I was an English major and, because of Kathy, I was specializing in the poetic works of hopeless love: Cyrano de Bergerac, John Keats, Heloise and Abelard. At some point in these heady days, I encountered the word "Balustrade," and for reasons which ought to be clear to any young romantic, I associated it with the shape of Kathy's back as she sat with perfect posture over her electric typewriter in a flowered, backless sun-dress. I somehow got it into my love-narcotized mind that its actual definition referred to the curve of a slender neck. I even mispronounced it--"bal you strawd"--I suppose because I thought it was prettier.

    I now know the correct definition and pronunciation, but the word is nonetheless as lovely as it was then--as lovely as Kathy Grawet in Boulder, Colorado, in 1982.

    Rob Yates December 18th, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Fractal: Because it's mathematical as well as literary, and it carries a sense of limitlessness. It sounds cool -even beautiful, but hard.

    cvn December 18th, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Ah -- Such a short word that can be used so many different ways, to express relief, relaxation, surprise, wonderment.

    MMMMMacsimum December 18th, 2008 at 8:19 am


    Wouldn't you like to know?!

    Lee Parker December 18th, 2008 at 10:16 am

    Omniscient - "Having infinite awareness, understanding and insight; possessed of universal or complete knowledge."

    I love the way it sounds; I love words that you can tell what they mean if you have taken Latin;
    It reminds me of my childhood attempts to understand God; -
    and I love the idea that someone will be brought closer to omniscience by winning this contest!

    Kathryn December 18th, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Celadon - I like the way it sounds and I like the grayish-green color. But the word auberge is a close second. It means an inn but sounds a lot like the French word for eggplant, aubergine so I often think of the two at once: a lovely auberge surrounded by deep purple aubergines and amid the soft shade celadon foliage, and a cat on the front step, purring.

    Jane December 18th, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Punctilious-I have an eye for detail and every time I see a crooked picture I am drawn to straighten it. My eye roves my environment for "order" and then I establish or restore it.....otherwise I am unpredictable and random in my personality.Being punctilious is the anomoly in my make up.

    Mike Carroll December 18th, 2008 at 2:32 pm


    Propinquity answers all the questions of how and why as to the human experience in interpersonal relationships. One bonds with one that is closest in proximity as to physical location and frequency in contact.

    Seth December 18th, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    difficult to describe, and even more difficult to act upon

    EeeeeeElliott December 18th, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    My favorite word is "curiosity." Curiosity is what begins all great adventures. No story would be written if it weren't for the author's curiosity and no story would enfold without it. Without curiosity Alice would never have followed the white rabbit into the rabbit hole and we, the reader, would have been the worse off for it. Samuel Johnson, who created the authoritative dictionary of the English language, said that, "Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect."

    Jillian December 18th, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    Butterfly. This is the first word that taught me about compound nouns: I was amazed as a child to discover that you could just stick two words together and get a whole new one. But I never could figure out the "butter" part. The three syllables just float along, up and down.

    K8eekatt December 18th, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Foodle is a wonderful word, you can sense the intonations of its meaning just sounding it out as you wander through the gorgeous stacks of books in Powells book store; just foodling around, thinking and dreaming.

    JayJay Roberson December 18th, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    I really enjoy the homonym great/grate. Great is the response so many in my small southern town use to the mundane questions, "How are you?' or "How've you been.?" When they do I usually aske them how they spell it, "great or grate?" Most look at me funny, then think about it and shoose the former. Almost nobody confess a "grate(ing)" day, mood, or personality!

    AArlet Arlet Brown Jeffries December 18th, 2008 at 7:55 pm


    A drumbeat sequence alternating left and right hands. This is my favorite word because this is a word that my son learned in music class at school. I say paradiddle and my son picks his drum sticks up and start to practice. Enough said. One funny sounding word my son practices.

    Regis December 18th, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Confabulate. I like this word because it sounds funny and make people look at me funny whenever I use it. It is also almost identical in Portuguese, "confabular". While growing up in Brazil, my friends and I would use this word all the time and even our teachers would look at us as if we were crazy. So, it works in Portuguese, it works in English, and it makes people confused whenever I confabulate with them.

    Kevin December 18th, 2008 at 8:09 pm


    Because arcane processes of opmphaloskepsis are, at the beginning and end of our lives both, what we find most entertaining.

    Chris Weeks December 18th, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    My favorite word is:

    because it looks like and sounds like what it means especially when capitalized. The shapely rounded "C" trailing behind the "lip" and "eye" and "us" sounds.... like fun.

    Linda Dove December 19th, 2008 at 12:20 am


    Prettier words exist, certainly, but I admire the hard-cracking syllables of the word, which I think lend gravitas to its meaning: using a part to denote the whole. Although synecdoche is a figure of speech, it's a particularly existential in T.S. Eliot's lines, "I should have been a pair of ragged claws, / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas," when he compares himself (insufficiently) to a crab's pincers--three levels removed from wholeness. Perhaps it's modesty that encourages us to reduce the self to its lesser parts--the heart, the eye, the ear, the hands--but re-membering is hard work and the act of diminishment never fully abates. Synecdoche is everywhere. Pay attention to everyday speech and you'll hear how relentlessly we tear ourselves up.

    And, of course, I also can't help grinning a little at the word's availability for all manner of confusion with the town in upstate New York. I'm grinning now, in fact.

    Patrick Garnett December 19th, 2008 at 7:09 am


    an interlocking of parts by finger-like processes

    among other things, a technical term for an embossing technique used in the manufacture of paper towels and tissues, specifically the property of having the small embossed indentations of the two plys offset in such a way as to increase absorbency and loft.

    an anatomical term for certain types of tissue

    Think of folded hands... or any state in which things are at rest and yet in tension... They are together until separated, yet while being separate is natural state. Think of velcro, molecules in a crystal, or the feathers inside an eiderdown...

    I like this word because it straddles technical and humanistic, and it sounds gentle but percussive

    Wesley Caproon December 19th, 2008 at 7:21 am

    "Muzjiks" is the most useful word in the English language because it yields the highest possible number of points on the first turn in a game of Scrabble.

    As I cannot afford the Oxford English Dictionary, I will have to provide you with the definition found in the American Heritage Dictionary - "A Russian peasant." (This definition is for the singular form of the word)

    Donald December 19th, 2008 at 8:07 am

    Callipygous. Seriously. One of the reasons I love the English language is because we've adopted so many words and ideas from other countries, that inevitably we end up with a plethora of words, way more specific than need to be. But that makes the language all the better for it.

    I realise someone mentioned this word already, but the fact that we have a word that means "having a well-shaped buttocks" is, in my opinion, stellar. Enough so to warrant multiple entries.

    As a kid, I also came across "hoccinoccihilipilification" which means to classify something as useless knowledge. But I haven't been able to find it since. And I feared entering a word I couldn't verify. Genius.

    Jessie December 19th, 2008 at 10:25 am


    The reasons why I like it:
    1) it's fun to spell
    2) it flows nicely off the tongue
    3) you can use it for evil or good by nicely telling someone they are greedy and overindulging OR you can describe how kind and generous someone is

    Andrew December 19th, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Apocryphal. There's nothing better than denouncing an apocryphal anecdote with a shout of the word.

    Eric J. Wilson December 19th, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Located. Something located is positive, is real, is firm, is grounded in reality. Without rearranging letters located renders such useful words as locate, load, oat, ate, and OED, which is where all of the great words land.

    Jon Pribbenow December 19th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    My word would have to be "if." I have never known a word that
    can open so many doors and lead people down several conversation
    paths such as "if."

    robin December 19th, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I like the word Actually. I use it so often that my two and three year olds use it as well. I like it because it is a great qualifier word.

    bill December 19th, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    conspire - because "to breathe with" provides such a vivid, intriguing understanding and feeling of the thing it refers to, in an instant.

    Gayle December 19th, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    The word iambic...

    ... why? because oddly enough, it has *three* syllables!

    persistance gilbert December 19th, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    BEDIZEN particularly when said with a southern accent. my favorite word since a little girl, when to dress gaudily was to be less than 'nice' and I loved everything that glittered. Reinforced as my favorite when my husband, with two degrees from Harvard and a great reader, had never heard of it!

    scifigurl66 December 19th, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    Antepenultimate. Unfortunately, someone already nabbed that one.


    Sycophant: a servile, self-serving flatterer. There are many slang words/new words for this, but I like this the best b/c it says it all and even sounds like what it means (not onomatopoeic but almost as good).

    meredith December 20th, 2008 at 5:43 am

    ANOMALY! Every time I hear it I shout it out loud because I love it so much. Seriously.

    Bill Tillier December 20th, 2008 at 10:50 am

    horizon: because it implies something to reach for, something beyond where we are and somewhere we can strive to get to and look over to discover yet further horizons to seek

    Carey December 20th, 2008 at 11:48 am

    Exegetical - This was a word that was spoken by a character in a computer game that I was playing with my son. Since neither of us knew the meaning of the word at the time, we looked it up. A little while later, my son's grade 7 teacher was asking the class for additional words for the up-coming spelling test. He volunteered exegetical. It was favorite of ours ever since ... and I thought very fitting for a dictionary contest.

    Nadia December 20th, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    lugubrious, Kerouac used it all the time...i just think it sounds is unrelated to any other word...not very frequently used...a melancholy word, that's often all by itself, it's this oddball word, that is underused and kind of lonely...almost like it has a reason for being sad and melancholy.

    Kevin December 20th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Bookkeeper. Because as far as I know, it's the only word in English that has three consecutive double letters ('oo' 'kk' 'ee').

    Gregory December 20th, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    My word is gloaming. Not the first person on the list to use it.

    For the why; it means roughly the same thing as twilight or dusk, but dusk sounds like dirt, and twilight sounds like a cocktail with an umbrella in it. To see what I mean just say the phrase "I'll have a dusky—twilight with a twist of lime"

    Only gloaming actually sounds like the glow that covers the world after the sun tucks in for the night.

    Michelle December 20th, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    I have started referring to my employer’s attached warehouse as the Magazine, and, although a stretch, may start emptying the much smaller interior Magazines of trash can liners and cleaning supplies when I am called for my next tour of kitchen duty.

    Something happens deep inside Magazine’s chamber, in the shuffling of its contents during the vocalization of the word, because Magazine starts one way and ends another and is five things in between, or maybe that’s all at once. It’s hard, soft, arty and earthy, and if the right stranger whispered the word in my ear, putting particular emphasis on the “g” and the “z”, that would be alright.

    Ruthann December 20th, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    My favorite word has always been defenestrate. It reminds me of reading David Eddings when I was a kid, learning new words and discovering fantasy.

    Beyond that, though - there is something incredibly delightful and satisfying about using the word defenestrate in everyday conversation. Here are some ways I've used it before:

    "My brother has a history teacher who defenestrates kids' backpacks when they aren't paying close enough attention."

    "I was going so crazy studying for finals, I just wanted to defenestrate myself... but there's a grate over the window of my dorm room."

    Dale Smith December 20th, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Phlegm. It's not just because it's a long monosyllabic word, and not just because its referent is so ubiquitous, especially this time of year. No, phlegm and I go way back -- my mom used the word regularly, and then in high school, I did an oral report on the medieval idea of the four humors and pronounced it "FLEG-um," failing to connect the word I had read with the word I had heard at home so many times. A fellow student corrected me but my teacher did not; it wasn't a very good school.

    Lauren Roberts December 20th, 2008 at 6:01 pm


    The word courage is at the heart of a self-created motto by which I try to live: “Courage is the art of embracing consequences.” By that I mean that I have choices for everything I do in my life, and that each choice presents me with a result. Sometimes my decisions have been hasty; others have been well thought out. Some have been dumb (in hindsight), others smart. But whatever choices I have made I have tried to always face the resultant consequences—good, bad, happy, difficult—with courage and acceptance.

    I believe courage is a word best used in an individualized way. Do I have the courage to be not necessarily right but to be honest about myself? Do I have the courage to face my difficulties, my embarrassments, my mistakes, and my deficits of character and to find the courage to change them?

    I don’t always succeed, of course, but if I can courageously face what I do, what I choose and what I end up with as a result then I have been true to myself and my values. It's not an easy way to live but it is a good one.

    SusanSusanL December 20th, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    Monosyllabic – So tell me, just how ridiculously inaccurate can a word be?

    AAAAAAILEEN December 20th, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    The word I like most is "FREEDOM" It is a word most everyone enjoys the meaning.
    I believe every creature aspires or loves to be free.

    Mei Shu Cui December 21st, 2008 at 8:28 am

    "Ain't" because teachers always say it's not a word and it's fun to argue with them and be right and prove them stupid.

    Julliard December 21st, 2008 at 9:00 am

    apricity - the warmth of the sun in winter. From Latin apricus, exposed to the sun.

    Coinages that are just gaudily syllabified alternatives to simpler words make me cringe. Maybe "apricity" approaches sniglet status, since few writers would be inclined to use this fairly obscure word to describe such a familiar concept. But it's one of those words that just folds itself into your mind for the moment it will next be encountered or used, and that we (some of us, anyway) look at and think, "Everything there is working!" I say we need to bring this word to the forefront, for its elegance and for the fact that it describes such a distinct and yet powerfully universal concept. (And that's the point of language, isn't it?)

    Edward Martin III December 21st, 2008 at 9:43 am

    A word I have always loved is "luminous."

    I realize it's a common word, but for me, it evokes a supernatual quality. Recently, I've enjoyed our snowfall, and one night, I woke up earlier, hours before dawn, and sat in my living room and watched the untouched white landscape, the deep drifts, and fingers of branch poking up through the crust of ice topping the snow, and I thought "luminuos." Not "white" or "glowing" or even "beautiful," although those would imperfectly apply, but "luminous." Because it was silent and magic and wondrous and full of some sort of implacable, light-touched power. It was luminous.

    Ian McNicol December 21st, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Caveat. It's a word that hints at more--it suggests an uncovering of truth, while requiring compliance. It's fun to say, it rolls off the tongue, it sounds like a delicious meal, and it teases the Scottish linguist in me to rearrange in anagrammatically: cave, eat, tea, vaca, ave, EVA, vat, vet... aaaaaaaaaaaand it's a word that you can always depend on when stalling, or to convince someone of a point you're not yourself sure of. For example, "Well, I'm not sure about WMD, per se, but I know in the martial arts tradition this would represent a caveat."

    Cilla M December 21st, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Ineluctable. It has a sound reminiscent of pond plants in the shallow that tangle themselves around limbs and clothing, making a watery end inevitable.

    Jamie December 21st, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    Bricolage - because it can be applied to construction, art, literature, and so much more! It describes how I usually work - using whatever resources are available to me. Plus, it just rolls off the tongue so nicely...

    MaryMary C. December 21st, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Bloodless, for the paradox it contains. It expresses both deep red and bone white in vivid clarity.

    brenda lalisan December 21st, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    LOVE is my favorite word. Why? Because it means many things to many people. Love of one's self, love of God, love thy neighbor, etc. etc. etc. Love is a beautiful word.

    Jessica H December 21st, 2008 at 11:53 pm


    so many possibilities for two little letters. one of the most used and useful words in our language. that we can mutually understand what this word represents in a given context is perhaps the essence of the beauty, complexity, and coolness of language.

    JoAnne December 22nd, 2008 at 8:51 am


    I like this word because it actually sounds like the sound it describes. When I'm out walking the dog on what most people think of as a silent night, I give thanks that there is one word to describe that quiet, whispering sound of the wind in the trees.

    maggie December 22nd, 2008 at 9:00 am

    nefarious = one wicked word.

    Daniel December 22nd, 2008 at 9:38 am


    Merely because I love to quote its etymology in the OED:

    "According to Pellew's Life of Lord Sidmouth (1847) III. 80, Ned Lud was a person of weak intellect who lived in a Leicestershire village about 1779, and who in a fit of insane rage rushed into a ‘stockinger's’ house, and destroyed two frames so completely that the saying ‘Lud must have been here’ came to be used throughout the hosiery districts when a stocking-frame had undergone extraordinary damage. The story lacks confirmation."

    AJP December 22nd, 2008 at 10:21 am

    'Bully' - as in "Bully for you, Norbert, you not only saved the railroad, you also invented spreadable butter!"

    The word Bully may be derived from the French 'bullion' ("Bullion for you, Norbert. Once you save the railroad we'll add some meat and make it a proper soup") but its use as an exhortative explosion of approval is as distinctly American as the sound of a four-string banjo.

    Samantha Johnston December 22nd, 2008 at 11:22 am

    My entry is a word so exclusively British as to be truly worthy of its space in the OED:

    bumf (slang). Toilet-paper; hence, paper (esp. with contemptuous implication), documents collectively. Also attrib.

    1889 BARRÈRE & LELAND Dict. Slang, Bumf (schoolboys), paper... A bumf-hunt is a paper-chase. 1912 V. WOOLF Let. 16 Nov. in Woolf & Strachey Lett. (1956) 46 Is this letter written upon Bumf? It looks like it. 1930 WYNDHAM LEWIS Apes of God (1932) v. 161 Low-lid fodder or high-brow bumph! 1930 E. RAYMOND Jesting Army I. vi. 90 The Brigadier pushed back the mess accounts to me and said, ‘You'll keep all that bumf till next time, won't you, padre?’ 1938 E. WAUGH Scoop II. iv. 211, I shall get a daily pile of bumf from the Ministry of Mines. 1957 M. K. JOSEPH I'll soldier no More (1958) 21 Matthews is bringing the bumf... He says be sure and type it on Army Form A2.

    Bumf -- the word I most obsess about using at cocktail party (and probably never will).

    Bob K December 22nd, 2008 at 11:28 am

    'Flibbertigibbet' rolls off the tongue and
    tickles the ear. It sounds like a birdcall
    and is so much more fun to use than calling
    a friend or foe a 'gossiper' or 'chatterbox'.

    Christopher Wright December 22nd, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Mice (n).

    I love this word because it is small and simple (much like mice), it sounds like the sounds that mice make, and is very funny out of context. "Mice" makes me laugh every time, as mice themselves often do. Mice!

    Frederick Warwick December 22nd, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Favorite English word is "Home." A place. H starts the story in the sounding
    sounding soft, whispery. O because its slow there and meditative, yet full of surprises. A meaningful place, hence, M, redolent of milk, mothers; its warm
    and magnanimous. E, a good place to end, a joyful sound. Home.

    Chelsey Nichol December 22nd, 2008 at 2:14 pm


    Whenever I hear it or say it I get a calm excitement about me because I relate books to so many great stories and moments in my life.

    Steve U. December 22nd, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious - because when you hear it, it sounds atrocious.

    ThoreaKim Simmie December 22nd, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Useful, in describing the current political revolution,
    is the word ADUMBRATION' Skilled adumbration marks the political oratory of president-elect Barack Obama. Like others, I'm grateful for the almost daily adumbrations. I feel good and am satisfied with the tenuous explanations, possibly because of their positive-emotional spin. The root verb, ADUMBRATE, which means to limit one's promises and strategies and plans and hopes only in the sketchiest detail. Or should I look for more than cloudy, foggy, flimsy projections of the coming economic and political year? For me, Obama's greatest talent is his ability to satisfy a wide audience with warm, sincere adumbration. Oh, how the man can adumbrate! Why should citizens be so satisfied with plans laid forth in, only, the broadest-possible descriptive terms.

    Dr Calvert December 22nd, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    My favorite word would have to be haptodysphoria. It is a word meaning the uncomfortable sensation that one experiences when coming into contact with a soft object, like a cotton ball, or a peach. I also find the sound of the word astounding.

    ssssssSaffrau December 22nd, 2008 at 3:28 pm


    a state of paralyzed fear

    Giving voice to intelligence in the streets.

    Meredith December 22nd, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Superfluous : This word always makes me smile, because I picture dear Cindy-Lou Who every time. I find myself using this word su·per'flu·ous·ly.

    Joy to you all!

    Patrick R. Wade December 22nd, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Correption (Chiding; reproof; reproach; also, in language studies, shortening in pronunciation.)

    Every spell-checker everywhere corrupts it to "corruption". This corruption of correption is to be correpted.

    mel December 22nd, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Because it can apply to so many fields (including writing, science, and politics), and can be a goal in its own right. When applied properly, elegance underscores how simplicity and understatement make a much bolder statement than rambling, wordy, intricate, Machiavellian ones. In science, the elegant solution is most often the correct solution, because nature is not wasteful or opulent.

    Elegance is crystallized in the principle of Occum's Razor: The simplest solution is the best.

    Renee B. Flower December 22nd, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    The word "determination" holds within its string of consonants and vowels both the focused work habits required to reach my goal and the goal itself: determined and termination. It speaks of the will to carry on despite seemingly impossible odds, and the hope that the deep satisfaction of a task completed will be mine eventually. To be determined as a state of mind and habit and to have determined the path and the destination. The word implies hope and delivers strength, and with these characteristics it has become my close friend and confidant. My frustrations and weaknesses are vanquished by its opening emphatic and unfliching "d" and "t", while being coaxed forward by the softer and empathetic "m" and "n". This word also holds a personal memory of a morning spent in a coffee house with a dear friend and colleague. My colleague can be described as one of the most determined and focused individuals I've ever known. Like the word that describes him, he does not surrender, nor does he abandon. Together, the word, my colleague, and I will together accomplish our joint project and reach our determined goal -- the termination. Determination is an act of faith in one's abilitie, and it contributes strength and hope in the dankest and most dismal moments of self doubt. Determination. My steadfast pal.

    Ron December 22nd, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Ludibund - I first read it in Jonathan Ott's Pharmacotheon (great read BTW) and have been using it ever since.

    Ron December 22nd, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Theurgy - This is the word which sets my soul ablaze. It's very structure implies the longing for connection with divinity yet it's simplicity of form makes it accessible for comfortable discussion.

    Ron December 22nd, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Thaumaturgy - This word focuses my fire, turns it inward to forge the very fabric of my microcosmic reality. Unlike theurgy, it doesn't speak to divine ecstasy, but instead to a deep focus upon empowering change in the world through the manifestation of will.

    Allen McCarty December 22nd, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Is, because even Bill Clinton needs a dictionary sometimes.

    Eugene M. December 22nd, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Douchebag: because it makes me giggle when I hear it.

    Paul December 22nd, 2008 at 9:21 pm


    Temporal and sublime.

    Dominique December 22nd, 2008 at 9:23 pm


    I love this word because if you say it slightly wrong, you get a mental image of what it means. Hair suit. It conjures images of portly guys wearing speedos in the French Riviera - which considering how awful the weather is, I would trade for in an instant and be grateful!

    Jeremy Phelps December 22nd, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    λογος = This is the Koine Greek word, meaning "word." If it were not for the almighty word the joy of the book would be absent, learning as we know it would be null and void, relationships might cease to exist. λογος brings humanity together.

    LLeslie Ryan December 22nd, 2008 at 10:33 pm


    "...perhaps the most complex word in the language," as Raymond Williams wrote in Keywords.
    As we think about what "sustainable" might mean, and how we relate to others, or what is not-us, understanding the relationships that are inherent (and contradictory) within the word "nature" may help guide us in the search to reconcile contemporary life with the carrying capacity of the land.

    Jeff December 22nd, 2008 at 11:06 pm


    Kabira December 23rd, 2008 at 8:16 am


    My favorite word because it is the most recent word I encountered by whose meaning I was completely baffled. I love learning new words (even in my 50's) but the context gave no helpful clues for this one and my thoughts about its root origins were mistaken. I actually had to look it up! Plus, I love words which begin with Z.

    Paul M December 23rd, 2008 at 9:34 am

    Tortfeasor - Sounds like the person is a villain from a comic book, which I guess is kinda true

    Lisa December 23rd, 2008 at 10:08 am

    The prefixes and the suffix combine in a way that makes this word so much fun to use. There are certainly other ways to say tireless, but indefatigable inspires its own manifestation.

    Patti December 23rd, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Insipid - because it sounds like what it is and its a generally great word if underused...

    Selina P. December 23rd, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Cellar door. It is phonetically beautiful. There are no harsh sounds as in other words such as determination or connotation. The meanings of words are important, but there are millions of English words that are harsh, even violent coming off the tongue. Take it back to simplicity, think of when it was unheard of to read silently, then think of how well cellar door feels in the mouth and sounds to the ear.

    tim carroll December 23rd, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    rhythm: No vowels, and try to spell it from memory. If I had the dictionary I could peruse the "fasinatin" origin of this and all the other words. Each has quite a history. Dont mean a thing if it aint got this- how important is that!

    rick s. December 23rd, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    Rick - Not only is it my name, but it also means a pile of hay. Though I have never asked my parents, I have created my own back story as to how I was conceived, and eventually named. On a crisp autumn Iowa evening, as my parents drove home from eating a nice dinner and sharing a bottle of Chablis, the car broke down. On the way to a distant farm house, they stopped by a pile of hay and did what non-violent drunk parents do. Thereby creating me and my name. The probable reality is they had already seen the syndicated episode of MASH three times and were just rather bored, but a person can dream.

    Ginny Hale December 23rd, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    gesticulate - if only you could watch me talk about this word! the word itself begins softly but ends with oomph, as do the movements of those prone to emphasizing their speech with movement. i also fond of the word as I am partial to those who gesticulate.

    Bill B. December 23rd, 2008 at 1:37 pm


    It describes a non-Newtonian fluid (similar to clay, a gel, latex paint, butter or ketchup), but when the word is heard for the first time, most people (including myself) have trouble believing that it is a real word...(gives a skepticism similar to hearing "truthiness")

    TJ December 23rd, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    ratfink - reminds me of when I was a kid living with my five siblings!

    Rayden S. December 23rd, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    mnemon, n. The minimum physical change in a brain, or other system, which constitutes the storage of a single piece of information in the memory; a unit of memory. (OED)

    In my junior year of college, I had to write a paper for an English class about the word "memory," using the OED as a source.

    This assignment and the idea that (a) memory takes up physical space were so intriguing to me, I still think about today.

    Mnemon is such a fun word to say. It's so mumbly and also mysterious, just like memory--this essential and quite elusive human function.

    llllllllllllllllm December 23rd, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    the word "okay". it's not my fave word but a word that stuck with me after my husband noticed that almost everyone we've ever heard talking on tv knew the word. some couldn't speak a word of english, but knew what ok meant. and i guess it's usually always an agreeable word. you're okay, i'm okay, we're all okay:>

    JrussoJjrusso December 23rd, 2008 at 10:51 pm


    You did ask for our FAVORITE word. This is my FAVORITE WORD TO HATE, a "favorite", nonetheless. One see's "impact" 'verbed' with seeming constancy these days, replacing words of action for a word of inaction and inarticulation. "Impact" has now become a bureacratic euphemism for doing nothing in particular, at no specific time, with no real agenda. One is now "impacted" by things or others, an action having nothing to do with one's bowels (at one end of the body), nor one's teeth (hopefully at its other end).

    I'm not clear how one describes an impacted bowel or tooth, but I can appreciate how much of an impact a very good internist or dentist might have on either.

    Emily Rose December 23rd, 2008 at 11:31 pm


    After seventy-two straight hours of jumping on and off trains, running to catch impossibly far airplanes and desperately hoping strangers wouldn't yell at me in a language I didn't understand, I found myself alone in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. I also found myself without any of my luggage, more importantly, without any of my great-grandmothers jewelry. So, as any seventeen-year-old in my position would do, I started to cry. Fortunately there was a close-by pillar that I ducked behind for a bit of privacy. Unfortunately, I quickly became the weird-girl-crying-behind-a-pillar. Before I knew it an old man was standing in front of me. "I don't mean to impose," he said, "but do you need any help?" I couldn't believe how nice this stranger was being! I had spent a good amount of time feeling seriously lonely in a foreign country where it was impolite to even smile at someone who wasn't your sister, or your lover or your lover's sister and now someone I had never met was actually trying to help me! I smiled at the man and told him that I was fine, just overreacting to a truly benign situation. He smiled back, wished me luck and went on his way. I suddenly didn't feel tired or hungry or frustrated anymore. I was so thankful to this man for simply offering whatever help he could have given that months of loneliness seemed to wash away from me like dirt off my face. I was back in Portland within six hours, luggage in hand and feeling wonderful. Sometimes you need a good cry, a pillar to keep you company and a very overdue imposition.

    Nadya December 23rd, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    DORAN - a lovely word I just discovered (related to the Gaelic & Sanskrit (!) 'duir' or oak, which was often used as wood for an entrance, or 'door' in the Brittish Isles)
    In 'Wise Child,' (Monica Furlong) a doran is described as one who loves all the creatures of the world, animals, birds, plants, trees & people; who belives them to be linked together, therefore, anything can be used to promote healing.' I knew 'duir' from the Olgam, or Celtic few sticks, & enjoy this allied word to describe the way I endevour to be in the world.

    Crispin December 24th, 2008 at 12:49 am


    because I like the idea that there is a word to describe not only discovering good things by accident (and which of us it not happy when that happens), but it also implies having the facility to do so, which is even better !

    Nancy Nancy E. December 24th, 2008 at 1:21 am

    Eleemosynary is a word of substance and character. I first discovered it as a high school student falling in love with the spoken and written word. At that time, a word of seven syllables that could be substituted for substantially shorter synonyms was sufficient reason to gain my attention and admiration. Although I subsequently learned to appreciate the value of pithier words and sentences, my affection for eleemosynary has not waned.

    It is a word that calls attention to itself, making anyone who sees it for the first time focus entirely on those double ee’s. I have yet to find another word that has two e’s together that are pronounced as separate syllables. It is the latter that also gives eleemosynary symmetry and musicality, and keeps the word from being pretentious. The word is simply too much fun to say aloud and too interesting visually to carry the stigma of pretention. And it means charitable or related to charity. It doesn’t get better than that.

    Nancy E. December 24th, 2008 at 1:28 am

    "Eleemosynary" is a word of substance and character. I first discovered it as a high school student falling in love with the spoken and written word. At that time, a word of seven syllables that could be substituted for substantially shorter synonyms was sufficient reason to gain my attention and admiration. Although I subsequently learned to appreciate the value of pithier words and sentences, my affection for "eleemosynary" has not waned.

    It is a word that calls attention to itself, making anyone who sees it for the first time focus entirely on those double ee’s. I have yet to find another word that has two e’s together that are pronounced as separate syllables. It is the latter that also gives eleemosynary symmetry and musicality, and keeps the word from being pretentious. The word is simply too much fun to say aloud and too interesting visually to carry the stigma of pretention. And it means "charitable" or "related to charity." It doesn’t get better than that.

    Biddy December 24th, 2008 at 8:16 am

    He who is his own messenger

    Like a warrior who is not only strong, but clever. Like unsung and unknown heroes who stood up before tyrants and refused to swear allegiance to sham governments. Like poets who bare their souls so the rest of us can borrow their words and write them on greeting cards. Because so few of us act as our own messengers, it's nice to have a word for those who do.

    Or, perhaps we are all our own messengers? Like hipsters proclaiming their hipdom with tattoos and ironic t-shirts. Like the legions of Appleholics wearing their white badges in each ear. Like bloggers who record and comment on every event and every minutiae in their life.

    It's open to interpretation, like a lot of good words, but I think I prefer to think of an autangelist as the independent, honest and capable person. Oddly, that doesn't actually eliminate any of the above. That's a good word indeed.

    GM WEST December 24th, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Pathetic--for two reasons. Firstly because the word smacks of pathos--of all things human, sad and contemptible. Lastly, for the physicality of the word itself. The disdainful way it spits itself out on pronounciation like a syntactic thorn.

    Laura December 24th, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Iridescent. Having a shimmery, rainbow-like quality. Categorized by a shifting, ephemeral quality of color and refraction. Mutable and inconsistent, but somehow definable. As if the absence of specificity defines it, specifically. Paul Newman as Cool Hand Luke, used it best:

    I don't care if it rains or freezes,
    As long as I got my plastic Jesus
    Sittin' on the dashboard of my car.

    Comes in colors pink and pleasant,
    Glows in the dark cause he's iridescent
    Take him with you when you travel far.

    Lesley December 24th, 2008 at 12:23 pm

    Trifecta. I love the implication that there's something special about being set of 3.

    dedddddeborah hubbard December 24th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Singultus, Singultus, Singultus
    oops, excuse me, just the hiccups at the thought of owning the coveted OED.

    As a medical transcriptionist, I love all the off-beat, specific and obscure medical terms but this word makes me giggle as I picture a small god of hiccups named Singultus.

    Isn't it lovely to read all these entries and realize we as word-lovers are not alone in the world after all?

    honeysue December 24th, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    obstreperous - as a mom and a school teacher, this is often the perfect word to describe a child from 2 to 22; Noisily and stubbornly defiant. It comes in very handy. When you tell the child they are being obstreperous, the word itself is strange enough to capture their attention and short circuit the described behavior. It also is a comfort to a parent that there is a word that exactly describes their child's behavior, meaning that other parents have needed that word before!

    Greg Carrier December 24th, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    My favourite word is the verb 'to be'.

    Why such a common verb - in fact, the most common verb in the English language?

    When I took Latin during my BA, my Latin professor, when he taught us this verb in Latin ('sum'), told us that this would be the most common verb that we would see in classical Latin.

    During the course, I began to realise that my professor was indeed correct - the verb appeared in so many forms and tenses that it was ubiquitous (another good word!).

    It wasn't until my professor reminded us near the end of the course that the sentence 'I am.' is the shortest complete sentence in the English language that I realised just how powerful and flexible this little, short verb has, and also just how overlooked it is in favour of 'more refined,' if you will, words, many of which could not be employed correctly without some form of 'to be' to help it along.

    Jessica B December 24th, 2008 at 4:10 pm


    Some personalities command an obsequious attitude from others. Some personalities are naturally just obsequious. The word itself is almost onomatopoeic…it reminds me of squish or quease or slither…words that in my opinion very much describe, indeed sound like, obsequious behavior. In some sense the word is also oxymoronic. The behavior is abhorrent, while the word itself is beautifully, tantalizingly descriptive of such a disgusting attitude. So many words are so hauntingly gorgeous this way, but this is one of my very favorites to use. It simultaneously slides and bounces off the tongue. Fantastic.

    Robin-Lyn December 24th, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    My favorite word is hubris.

    I distinctly remember the first time I heard it and the teacher who discussed hubristic tendencies. I find that I am drawn to characters and everyday people with a touch of hubris. It makes them powerful and makes you feel as though they can take care of you without ever needing more.

    For the record, I am hubristic. I fell in love with the word because I saw myself in the definition.

    Nanette Bulebosh December 25th, 2008 at 2:06 am

    My favorite word is "symmetry." It has several meanings, but the one I like best is #4 from the American Heritage Dictionary (which I'm using because I haven't won the Oxford 20 vols yet!): "Beauty as a result of balance or harmonious arrangement." There are some days - not many but some - where everything seems to fit. Somebody says the exact thing I need to hear exactly when I need to hear it. Or I run into someone who has a certain role to play in my life at that moment. Or everything just seems to fit that day. Things feel right. Everything's in balance and, thus, beautiful.

    Jack Anderson December 25th, 2008 at 9:54 am

    My chosen word is "LOVE".
    Why? Because, "LOVE" is what people write about, it's what people sing about. It is what wars were fought over. The love of a certain religion, or oil, or territory. At a party, "LOVE" or someone's relationship, how it is going, or the 'new' one, or why it ended..."LOVE" is what people speak of. It is what that 'song-stuck-in-your-head' is all about. If one is in "LOVE" that's their life...if they are falling in or out of "LOVE", that's is what is foremost in their mind. It is what pulls families together or pulls them apart. It is what someone puts into their favorite recipe when cooking for their's what is shown to the dog on the street, or felt when donating to the homeless or building a house for someone. "LOVE" is what makes the world go around...and may eventually save it. My favorite word is "LOVE".
    And...I would like to be a writer, so I could really, really use the book set.

    Amalie Aseltine December 25th, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Originally, the word meant the part of the plant containing grains, the life-giving substance of the staple crop that identifies the life source food for a culture. Biblically, it represents the life and death potential of a single word, imbuing the magical qualities of language. Personally, for myself as an English teacher, I use the word to distinguish a dictionary worthy for use by a college-bound high school student!

    Nate December 25th, 2008 at 10:28 am


    What word better captures what we are, what we do, as creatures of words and reason? Ontology makes the top of my list because it’s so thoughtful, so wide, so human. Like many conceptually-rich words, it grows from Greek roots: logos (word, speech, discourse, reason), and onto (being, that which exists). While the “study of being” concerns abstract categories of existence to philosophers, we all do ontology every day: using words to talk about what is. Now that’s a people word.

    Dan December 25th, 2008 at 10:35 am


    Aside from sounding pleasantly scientific, I've found it to be a great word for ending arguments. Rather than continue a fruitless debate, I can just declare that it's an empirical question as to how things will turn out. That sounds a lot better than "let's just wait and see".

    ddddddDaniel December 25th, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Uh. This word allows my mind to catch up. It is probably the most frequent word in English.

    S.Bowdish December 25th, 2008 at 6:47 pm


    My favorite word is juxtaposition. I first heard it as a high school vocabulary word and loved the way it rolled off my tongue. Then my interest in it grew as I played word games because j and x are always difficult letters to play and are worth a lot of points for the effort. Sadly, I haven't been able to use it in a game yet, but each time an x comes by I search through my tiles to see if creating juxtaposition is anywhere near possible. But lately juxtaposition has become my favorite word because I have come to realize that we juxtapose things almost every minute of every day. Most of the time we make mental comparisons between objects and ideas, but we often make very physical comparisons too. It also has the added bonus of having no direct synonyms that I have run across, which makes it clear and irreplaceable.

    mel December 25th, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    slew--This word stands out to me because when I once used it in a conversation, the listener laughed at me. "Slew??? Where did you get that word? Do people still use that word?" I got that word from my vocabulary, and yes, I use it and I've heard other people use it, too. Not that I care if anyone else uses it, because I don't need anyone's permission to use it. So there. That said, I have a slew of words I like.

    J G Bell December 25th, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    "Etaoin Shrdlu" appears as an entry in some dictionaries. The entry turns out to be comprised of the most common english letters in order of frequency, so those are the ones that always got picked by Wheel of Fortune contestants that knew what they were doing. But, the reason this entry appears is because it sometimes would be seen in print, even though it has no meaning of its own. The reason it would be seen in print is because old linotype machines, used to typeset, would sometimes jam or a mistake would be made. The keyboardist would then draw their finger across the keyboard to mark the misprint and "Etaoin Shrdlu" was the result. If the copy editing wasn't good enough this sequence of letters could end up in published works. Often times, these volumes are collectible, like misprinted currency; especially now that linotype typesetting is essentially dead. "Etaoin Shrdlu" is an archaic entry that has no original textual meaning, but actually appears in some dictionaries. How cool is that?

    Stephen J. McKimmy December 25th, 2008 at 9:47 pm


    It is absolutely superfluous. It means as, but has one more letter, thus making it obscenely more ostentatious.

    Dave Johannsen December 26th, 2008 at 6:43 am

    I'll confess that my favorite word may be "schadenfreude." There is something wonderful about the way that this one word so compactly and unambiguously conveys a complex emotional state. The fact that this word is borrowed from German imparts a connotation and sentiment that perfectly compliments its denotation. In this sense, schadenfreude may epitomize what is beautiful about the English language.

    Enid Griffin December 26th, 2008 at 7:50 am

    Argy-bargy, a British description of argument. I like it because it denotes a frivolity that is characterised by most arguments.

    Karen Li December 26th, 2008 at 10:26 am


    It conjures up an image of 2 strangers who've just met and by fate, fall in love and share a kiss. Sappy, I know, but I like the idea of destiny. :)

    Cher Berg December 26th, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Serendipity- My favorite word in the English language is derived from Persian tales of the brothers Serendip who found opportunity or transformed misfortune to fortune through their intelligence, observation, and insight. I believe this to be a great motto not only for entrepreneurs, but for every individual, to awaken the wonder and curiosity of this great experiment we call life. It is a reminder that the solution to most of our problems lies within us, not without.

    M. Greg Dean December 26th, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Marzipan. Rex Harrison, playing Richard Burton's gay roommate in a movie eons back, uttered this word in a way that will not be dislodged from my memory.

    allegra December 26th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Haecceity: that which makes a thing itself, or which defines a person. It's a word for "thisness." I discovered it thanks to Kink Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, in which a scientist named Sax is asked about his religion, if any. It's my favorite word upon which to meditate, and it's pronounced "HAY-ex-AY-eh-tee," more or less.

    PatPattPatti Noonan December 26th, 2008 at 1:07 pm


    How can you not love a word that originated as fisty cuff? It's such a playful little word you may get lulled into forgetting it's definition. A bare knuckled fist fight. Just a reminder of how fun language can be.

    tim sauder December 26th, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    The verb, not the golf club. It's my favourite thing to do and it sounds like what it is and is just kind of fun to say. Just an all around fun kind of a word.

    bayouannie December 26th, 2008 at 4:30 pm


    To get to the core or heart of something. What is it made of? To break something down to what is most important. To cut to the quick.

    I try to get to the essence of things on a daily basis. Time is short and sometimes it is essential to do so.

    Kevin Larson December 26th, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    IF - A mighty mite of a word. This little two letter titan is a brawny fulcrum in any sentence.

    Liz December 26th, 2008 at 6:16 pm


    Because without it we would continuously ponder the "why" without a glimmer of hope. This word possesses the ability to ease our ever-curious minds. From the small questions (why do I have to sleep?) to those of a slightly grander scale (why do we exist?). Whether whatever follows it actually has a solid foundation or is just floating on thin air, it is always happy to offer its services. On top of all this, only the most awesome of words could somehow work its way up to being a plausible explanation for anything in just one word. Why is "because" my favorite word? Because.

    Jack Lynch December 26th, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    recondite-It's a word almost every has heard, but no one knows what it means.

    kjs December 26th, 2008 at 8:43 pm


    I learned ages ago, as a kid, that this was the longest palindrome word. I don't even know if it is or not. But the word has always stuck in my head and I think about it with an inexplicable regularity. It's just become a "catch-all" word for my thoughts about language.

    A Person December 26th, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    My favorite word is quoz.I think it is the most awesome word in the universe. I mean, how could a word meaning an absurd person or thing not be awesome ? Also it describes me. I am a quoz.

    Clyde Pharr December 26th, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    agendum - this word has for too long been ignored from the heights to the depths o
    of the language. Seems agenda has replaced it, which is merely the plural for
    agendum. I take umbrage especially when I see "agendas" used with apparent
    acceptability where agenda should instead be used. Poor lonely agendum, it is
    high time you receive your due again, sniff!

    Sam Diener December 27th, 2008 at 12:28 am

    "Our sole safeguard against the very real danger of a reversion to barbarism is the kind of morality which compels the individual conscience, be the group right or wrong. The individual conscience against the atomic bomb? Yes, there is no other way."
    Life Magazine Editorial, August 20, 1945

    GEGEbarber December 27th, 2008 at 1:33 am

    Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is my favorite word. At 45 letters it is one of the longest words in the dictionary. It is a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust, causing inflammation in the lungs. I first learned of the word while attending High School in Vancouver Washington when Mt St Helens first erupted in 1980. I have won a number of bar bets using the word and it was even featured in a Simpson’s episode.

    Beck December 27th, 2008 at 3:59 am

    Cleave. Because it's so much fun explaining what it means to the not-so-linguistically oriented engineers in my house.

    jonapauls December 27th, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Crapulence: excessive indulgence; intemperance.

    omshantiom December 27th, 2008 at 7:14 am


    The word with its sanskrit origins, signifies to me the process of goodness in thought and action brings around a goodness in return.

    We live in a age with choas and uncertinity. Karma, reflects mans actions in goodness and also in badness,and its consequences directly or indirectly, the known and the unknown with its eventual consequences of its known and unknown results.

    shrikant December 27th, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Because without it we would continuously ponder the "why" without a glimmer of hope. This word possesses the ability to ease our ever-curious minds. From the small questions (why do I have to sleep?) to those of a slightly grander scale (why do we exist?). Whether whatever follows it actually has a solid foundation or is just floating on thin air, it is always happy to offer its services. On top of all this, only the most awesome of words could somehow work its way up to being a plausible explanation for anything in just one word. Why is "because" my favorite word? Because.

    Berry Tibbitt December 27th, 2008 at 9:59 am

    My favorite word is ululate: a long wail resembling the howl or a wolf, from the Latin ululare, to imitate, pronounced ool yew late or yewl yew late. I prefer the latter.
    It is an ancient onomatopoetic word and appears first in "The Histories", written by Herodotus in 430 BC, in which he comments on the sweetness of the form of singing used by Libyan women. Obviously, people have been ululating for a very long time. While not universal, people ululate through out the Middle East, and parts of Africa and India. There are many uses for ululations, from encouraging belly dancing to showing joy at weddings and grief at funerals to use in some churches in Africa to and expression of happiness by Basque shepherds. There are many styles of ululating, including the high pitched sound produced by rapid tongue movements, which is common in Arab countries, as well as the straight attempt to imitate the howl of a wolf.
    My style is the latter.

    My affection for the word is personal and participatory. Here are three examples.

    In the 1980s I found myself living in a solitary cabin on the shores of a lake in northern Saskatchewan. On many winter nights I felt compelled - pushed- to walk out under the flickering green light of the aurora borealis to the edge of the frozen lake, fill my lungs with air, throw back my head and ululate. Then listen. From the north came the low, rumbling, throaty answer from what I believed to be wolves, while from the south came the high pitched yipping ululations of coyotes. As I walked home I felt at ease and a part of the wider world.

    Ten years later I again found myself living in a solitary cabin, this time in an Inuit village high above the Arctic Circle on the northern tip of Baffin Island. Again, I felt urged to walk out on the tundra above the village ( too far north for any Northern Lights here) and when sufficiently high to give forth with my best ululation, with three results. First, there was a short barrage of barks and yips, but no real howls, from the several hundred sled dogs picketed on the ice of the Arctic Ocean below.
    Second, from behind the cliffs behind me came the majestic ululation of a single Arctic wolf.
    Third, ten or fifteen local ravens would gather and, in their ancient language of clacks, awks, glomps and hisps, discuss this strange human being with a penchant for ululating. I felt good. I felt part of it all.

    On the first Saturday in May, 1995, while Thunder Gulch was winning the Kentucky Derby, I was escaping a mind-numbing conference in St.John's, Newfoundland and thrashing my way through driving rain down Water Street , searching for sanctuary in a bar. I found the Rose & Thistle, shook myself dry like and old dog, found a stool at the bar and ordered a drink. Then I began to enjoy the young fellow at the end of the bar playing a guitar and singing Newfoundland ballads. However, after a few songs the barmaid retrieved what I came to learn was the communal guitar, placed it in front of me and said, "Your turn."
    "I can't play. I can't sing," I said sheepishly.
    "What can you do?"
    "Well..well, I can ululate."
    The room went silent, thinking perhaps this was some sort of bodily function.
    I stood, as did the fifteen or so other customers, and I pumped my arms in an exaggerated way to fill the lungs with air, threw back my head and gave forth with one of my best ululations ( I had had plenty of practice by this time), starting slow and low, building to a crescendo and then tapering off to barely a
    whisper. I was joined, enthusiastically,by every person in the room. We nearly ululated the roof off the Rose & Thistle that day. And not just once did we ululate that Saturday afternoon, but three or four more time as new people joined us. I can tell you that I certainly felt a part of the Rose & Thistle that day. I wonder if they still ululate there.

    Those are my reasons for my affection for the word ululate.

    Janet Avery December 27th, 2008 at 10:40 am

    JaKa—I reviewed dissertations and theses for the Graduate School at the University of Oregon while attending school there. My father called me a sesquipedalian because of my new and diverse vocabulary. I have loved this word ever since then.
    sesquipedalian /seskwipidaylin/
    • adjective formal
    1 (of a word) having many syllables; long.
    2 characterized by long words; long-winded.
    — ORIGIN from Latin sesquipedalis ‘a foot and a half long’.

    Seth December 27th, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Chimera, a monster of the mind; a monster of the thoughts inside of me, and the ones inside of you.

    Jim Miller December 27th, 2008 at 11:42 am

    My favorite word is "cavil" for two reasons. First, because it is always fun to begin a sentence with "It is beyond cavil" when making a point and, at times, it just says it all. Second, I love the word because an amazing lawyer, John Pelino, who passed away a few years ago, introduced me to the word.

    mimiganoush December 27th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    "Using the tip of her right Birkie, Peggy scouched the plump footstool around to a comfortable position and anchored herself in for awhile."

    Veronica H. December 27th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    My favorite word is rather simple and somewhat silly; Shrubbery. It begs to be said aloud, and invites an English accent a la Monty Python. It describes a grouping of shrubs, but more than that, an older ideal; "Mr Rushworth," said Lady Bertram, "if I were you, I would have a very pretty shrubbery. One likes to get out into a shrubbery in fine weather." (from Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park"). "Shrubbery" is not deep and does not convey some magnificent aspect of humanity or existence, but it does convey the playfulness and the wonderful sounds that language has to offer.

    mimiganoush December 27th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    "scouched" - a mimiganoush original! In November 2008, I indulged myself by participating in National Novel Writing Month - ( - write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days Nov 1-30. I had a blast! Scouched has to be my favorite word because I believe that I invented it - it conveyed just the impression I wanted for my character to hook the corner of the footstool into the spot she wanted. [Novel Excerpt below] I comment here that if I had the 20 volume Oxford that I would know for sure that "scouched" is not already in there! so you can support a new novelist! We live in a world where "Meh" from the TV cartoon Simpsons is going into the Harper Collins dictionary and I for one believe that I can make up better words than that (as a compliment to the far better efforts of Lewis and his "frabjous" boy, etc. Our Salem OR NaNoWriMo group was at Wordstock also. Thanks for the opportunity to share this adventure! WRITE ON!!!

    "Using the tip of her right Birkie, Peggy scouched the plump footstool around to a comfortable position and anchored herself in for awhile."

    mckeeMarvinbean December 27th, 2008 at 1:30 pm


    It's one of those words that stick with you after you hear it for the first time. I think I became aware of the word while watching a telvision show called "Seven Days" The hero can travel back in time only seven days in the past and when he arrives he places a phone call and states the code word "CONUNDRUM", thus averyone is alerted and puzzling 'why' he has arrived from the future. I guess life as we know it today is a big CONUNDRUM where each one of us is a piece that fits in that puzzle

    DebZ December 27th, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    HERE is my favorite word. No, that's it - HERE. Isn't it wonderful to hear someone speak it as they offer something that you truly need - spare change, a warm embrace, a dry shoulder, a hot cup of tea or a stiff drink? "Here," she says and pats the cushion next to her. "Let's talk." When I have a raging headache and he says "here" as he turns me 'round and begins to massage my scalp and neck and shoulders and back and...and when the pain melts away in his strong, warm hands I feel such gratitude for the simplest acts of kindness. Because, what is most significant is that "here" means "present"...right here, right now, a gift of time from one human to another.

    Ryan December 27th, 2008 at 3:45 pm


    This word needs no introduction. Please! Say it fast, I guarantee it will bring a smile to your face.

    Chris December 27th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Crytoscopophilia - The urge to look through peoples windows as you pass by their houses.

    I often find myself walking through neighborhoods excited by the prospect that I might catch a glimpse of another's private a by no means creepy way. Even to see the decor of a stranger's home is somehow a guilty pleasure, a reminder that there are other lives as private as your own that you can sample but never know. Again, not in a creepy way. Though the word does have a cold and sinister feel. Almost like "tries to cop a feel of you."

    CLKeleher December 27th, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    My favorite word is obstreperous.
    This word perfectly describes, at times, my classroom full of eighth grade students. It is especially appropriate to describe their behavior in those hours before a storm hits, the weekend arrives, a long holiday break or spring vacation releases us, the lunch bell chimes, or dust is spotted drifting across a bright, shiny object. I remember being labeled "obstreperous" by an English teacher when I was in high school; the word stuck.

    It's the name I would christen a boat, should I find the money to purchase one - it'd look splendid painted across the transom.

    It's also the word I tell the kids is the best way to identify me if they think I'm acting weird and may have been abducted by aliens and replaced by a clone or evil twin.

    howarthHeavenly Librarian December 27th, 2008 at 5:51 pm


    This wonderful word is given as an adjective but may also be used as a noun. I first discovered it while reading the O.E.D. (from the set with a magnifying lens).

    It means having many syllables, long, long-winded, and literally -- one and a half feet long. I challenged my fifth grade class with banner of 10 inch-high font letters of the word and gave a prize to the first student who found the defintion. I baited the hook with "my hope is that you will all be sesquipedalians by the end of the school year." And, you know, many were!

    Michael Mirich December 27th, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    My favorite word is “Jehovah”. It names the person who has given us the ability to coin words that express thoughts and feelings. They are used speech as well as writing to communicate. Many marvelous examples are offered in this listing of favorite words. It is fitting that the gift as well as the giver be acknowledged.

    Nonnie December 27th, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    Because until I became sober, my family did not want to talk to me.
    Until I became sober, my 11 year old niece did not want me to sleep over when I visit-now she is sad if I don't.
    Until I became sober, I could not pay back my 73 year old Mom sll the money she paid to help me, and now help support her.
    Until I became sober, I could not contribute to society, animal charities and others who needed help to get sober.
    Until I became sober, I could not feel loved or love others.
    Until I became sober, I did not see what a beautiful place this world is every day.
    Until I became sober, I could not be happy being just who I am.

    Grace December 27th, 2008 at 7:23 pm


    I have used this word for as long as I can remember (yes, like so many, I was prone to reading dictionaries as a child), perhaps because I often find myself wanting to manifest lofty intellectual and spiritual concerns in the down and dirty material world. I never thought of it as a fancy word at all until I used it at a party, and the group went a bit quiet. I was later quietly admonished by one of the group, who cited my "intimidating" living room library as further evidence of my unwitting antisocial behavior.

    Heather B December 27th, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I will pick logy as my favorite word. It' not because I love the word above all else, but it is the word that gets stuck in my head. Several years ago, my husband said he was feeling logy after eating a big meal. I told him the word he was looking for was lazy. He insisted logy was a word as I insisted it was not. We consulted a dictionary where we learned that I was in fact quite wrong. It was a humbling experience for me as I love words, and I couldn't believe this word has missed my radar completely. Every once in a while, logy pops into my head, which I typically interpret as a sign from my mind that I'm getting snooty again. We need the OED in our house so that I can continue to learn new words and be reminded of my need for humility since I still don't know everything!

    Micha December 27th, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I have to say Erudite! Why? Because the prize is the OED! The greatest collection of words ever compiled! The OED has every book ever written or translated into English within its covers. It is the erudite Necronomicon; the Alpha and the Omega, baby! OOOOOO ... I want it!

    Craig Dean December 28th, 2008 at 2:12 am

    My favorite word is "yes" because being open to saying yes can open the world to you.

    =JimmJ=Jimmy= December 28th, 2008 at 10:15 am


    A cajun stew with onions,okra,wild game,seafood,chicken,sausage and almost anything the cook wants to use. The mind springs to hunting camp,cold,wet weekends spent indoors,tailgate partys,another use for bell peppers and one more reason to invite people over. One pot feeds 6 or more, no sweat. Gumbo is no doubt my favorite word. Plus there is no finer a dish to put over a hot bed of rice. Enjoy my word!!!

    BBBBBBrendan December 28th, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    My favorite word (and totally appropriate to this contest) is OXFORD. It can be a university, a shoe, a color (oxford blue), a shirt, and when combined with MOVEMENT, it becomes a synonym for TRATARIANISM. (You can look it up, I can't do everything for you :-)
    Oh, and of course it's the world's greatest dictionary that I'd like to put in my house and use intensively (but not extensively)!!

    Hannah December 28th, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Bibliography. I have been in love with this word since the fourth grade when I first heard it. I love the sound it makes as the combined letters slip off of my tongue.

    martine sacks December 28th, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Benignant is my choice. It has been a favorite of mine since i was in junior high school. Why is it not used???? We use benign and malignant to describe tumors - why not benignant???? or for that matter, why not malign?????
    Benignant sounds cozy and unharmful. it reminds one of beignet - which is a delicious frittery doughnut.
    The extra syllable is so much more reassuring than the bisyllabic benign.
    Poor benignant is relegated to the pages of the OED and other dictionaries. it deserves its day in the sun.
    Go forth and do benignant deeds!

    mamamardee December 28th, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    erehwon - i have loved this word from the first time i read it - what a wonderful place to be!

    Annie December 28th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Hiburnal. It means more or less "wintery", and it also sounds like "burn" which is how cold feels...and it was my first 50 point scrabble word.

    Jim December 28th, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Pleonasm. To use this word is to be pleonastic, or long-winded.

    PPPPPRev. Patricia Roller December 28th, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    My favorite word is "bodacious" because one of it's meanings is: remarkable. As a New Thought minister this is how I look at life and all the people around me. I feel so extremely lucky to live a bodacious life. Also, my mentor who will be 79 this year has used it and I see how youthful and happy he is. Bodacious is a way of living from the heart.

    katy December 28th, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    umbrage or expeditiously
    umbrage because it is my mother's favorite word and it makes her laugh every time someone says it. Expeditiously because my grandfather said it was a word that was never said enough and an adverb not put into practice as often as it should be.

    Drew December 28th, 2008 at 6:17 pm


    first i find it ironic that the spelling is a series of letters almost monotonous. also i like since I missed it in a spelling bee so many years ago. they other word I missed years later was ACHEY also spelled ACHY and I later found the two spellings in a dictionary and showed the teacher but she said no do overs,,, :(

    AJ December 28th, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    My high school English teacher taught me this word years ago, and I have never forgotten it. Loosely: To make a judgement about something of which you know little or nothing about. It is an apt description for many moments/people in everyday life. Also, it is so much fun to say. Just let it roll of your tongue: floss-i-noss-i-nigh-hilli-pilli-fication.

    Sara Mooney December 28th, 2008 at 7:41 pm


    1. Every living animal has/does it.
    2. Can be used in writing and not be censored.
    3. It's dirty and proper all at the same time.

    Peter December 28th, 2008 at 7:41 pm


    It's concise.