Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book talk: What's your favourite word?

What would stories be if they had no words to form them?

A lovely friend and colleague of mine recently wrote a post about her top 5 favourite words.  I couldn’t help but geek out when I read her article.

You see, as a bibliophile and word nerd, it’s simply not possible for me to love books and ignore the prose within them (yes, yes, I can all hear you saying ‘duh’, but bear with me, I do have a point to make).

Sure, we all read for the characters and the story and the adventures that liberate us from reality for the duration of the book, but what would those stories be if they had no words to form them?

And what would conversations be if we didn’t have them?

Words are beauty and cruelty. They can be used to mock, or be used to seduce. They can cajole, lure and manipulate, and they can move you to tears, evoke a sense of wonder and most importantly, breathe life into your imagination.

There is power and magic in words. And there is a good reason that the old saying about pen being mightier than the sword exists.

We have a pretty formidable weapon we can wield, and often we opt to use it to hurt and silence voices already struggling to be heard. 

In the spirit of all things wordy, I thought I’d share 5 of my favourite words. In no particular order, they are as follows:

 Gossamer
- a fine, filmy cobweb seen on grass or bushes or floating in the air in calm weather, especially in autumn.

Because the word brings to mind fairies flitting about in gauzy little outfits and dragonfly wings.

Miasma
- a dangerous, foreboding, or deathlike influence or atmosphere.

This can also refer to "noxious exhalations from putrescent organic matter; poisonous effluvia or germs polluting the atmosphere,” but I much prefer the above-mentioned definition.

Petrichor
- a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather.

I’ve always associated this with romance and new beginnings, and because every time I see this word, I can immediately conjure the actual scent of the rain, following its downpour.

Mellifluous
- sweetly or smoothly flowing; sweet-sounding:

The definition is exactly what it feels like when you say the word out loud, don’t you think?

Melancholy
- a gloomy state of mind, especially when habitual or prolonged; depression.

I’m a sucker for sad and beautiful words and things, and melancholy pretty much embodies this in every way. I’m all about the angst, yes.

I asked some Women24 book club newsletter readers to tell me about their favourite words; this is how you responded:

Leighanne

Pareidolia - I just love that there's a word for the experience we have all had at sometime or another - seeing or the ability to see a human face in inanimate or abstract objects.

I have often 'seen' beautiful women, feuding lovers, horses in the rust patches of my dad's car, the peeling paint from a wall or water splashes on the bathroom floor after a shower.

Wendy

I love the word Soliloquy – it sounds so mysterious and intriguing.

(I like the fact that few people know what it means *blush* ‘cause I do. How’s that for a 3-year old rationale? LOL!)

Carol


Scintillating – because it conjures up all things bling, bright and beautiful.

Michelle

Superfluous - unnecessary, especially through being more than enough.

I am not exactly sure why this is one of my favourite words but I really like the flow of the word; and the fact that it has too many vowels shows the meaning in my opinion.

Lusanda

Vociferous is my favourite word only because it sounds very forceful - carries a lot of weight without one even having to know what it means. Just pronouncing the word gives me goosebumps. Weird I know.

What's your favourite word and why? Leave a comment and let me know.
 

Disclaimer:
This column originally appeared as part of Women24’s monthly book club newsletter. Keen to receive this as a monthly newsletter in your own inbox? You can subscribe here.

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