My favorite words

November 5, 2007


flickr:Darwin Bell

Gloaming

“Twilight.” Actually a noun (nothing ever “gloams,” for example), the word comes from Scottish Middle English and is over 8000 years old.

Fungible

“Interchangeable” (in that the two fungibles perform the same function). The odd one out in this list. I just love that it sounds like so many other common words (like fungus and fun) and that it’s practically impossible to guess the definition.

Pulse

In the sense of “rhythmical beating, vibrating, or sounding” though that definition takes most (but not all) of the poetry out of it. From “pellere to drive, push, beat.” In British English mostly, “pulse” also refers to what we Americans call legumes. Mirriam Webster doesn’t note the UK/USA distinction, but google for “pulse recipe” and seven of the top 10 results will be from the UK or traditionally British-English-speaking places.

Slouch

“Origin unknown.” Yeats liked this word:

The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
[The Second Coming – more here]

I didn’t pick these words for any specific reason or theme. They’re just fun, solid words (with the exception of “fungible,” I suppose). One of my personal missions (vendettas?) is to use as many “solid” words as possible. A quick Google search indicates that I may be the only person on the planet who uses that distinction, which makes me either unique or crazy. I’ll write about solid words in the coming days, so stay tuned!

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