At a social event recently, whilst making small talk with someone who was a great conversationalist, I was asked a really interesting question:
‘What is your favourite word?’
I decided I had a few – purely because they are rarely used, but I love the sound of them:
- epithalamium – a song or poem celebrating a marriage;
- salmagundi – meat, eggs, anchovies, fruit and vegetables popular in the 18th century (and I often serve it as a starter or on a buffet table when we have a few guests around);
- and priapism, the definition of which I’ll leave you to look up. I first learned the word when I was nursing, and have since enjoyed being able to explain it to others when confronted with the rather obscene little statues sometimes found in the tourist areas of Turkey or Greece!
I have to confess to being addicted to learning new words. I may never use them, they may occasionally come in useful in general knowledge quizzes, or they may just languish somewhere in my brain in the compartment marked ‘Useless random rubbish’. Or indeed, I may just forget them. However my daily fix comes with the amazing ‘A.Word.A.Day‘ which delivers a new word to your inbox each morning, with an example of its use in context and an indication of when the word is believed to have originated. Apart from giving me my daily fix, it has proven to be invaluable when writing. For example, when ghost-writing for a novel which referred to the 1700s, I was able to research whether or not a word I wanted to use had been in existence in that time period.
I take my hat off to whoever goes to all this trouble on a daily basis, and creates a weekly theme. And best of all? It’s free to sign up to the basic service! https://wordsmith.
Do let me know – what is your favourite word and why?