Word Girl

May 13, 2011

One of my greatest simple pleasures is one I couldn’t escape even if I wanted to: words. I love words. Fat ones, skinny ones, juicy ones, sleek ones that say just what you want them to say. I love them in prose, in poetry, in crossword puzzles and song lyrics—even in dictionaries and thesauri. Though I’ve never read the dictionary, when I look something up, I find myself wandering through the opened pages looking for gems. For instance, did you know that thingummy (an alternative of the earlier thingum) is in the dictionary, and is defined as “thingamajig”?

I love words that sound like what they describe: buzz, hiss, murmur, boom, clank, sniff. I love words that conjure up images and emotions: ephemera, molten, doppelganger, begrudge, noodling.

Photo: manumohan.com

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”—Mark Twain
I jot down favorite words, words I don’t know the exact meaning of, and phrases that capture my imagination. My favorite crossword puzzles feature plays on words, and there is a certain feeling I get when I know I’ve got the right word for the clue, even when—especially when—it involves an unusual usage.

I count myself lucky to work and play with words every day. There’s nothing quite like the little frisson that runs up my spine when I read or write just the right word. The perfect turn of phrase (and isn’t that a lovely, artisan-like expression?) feels completely satisfying. Words are more than my tools. They are my friends.

What are your favorite words?

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  1. thingamajiggy
    Hand me that thingamajiggy

  2. ...you are a Word Girl--my friend is too, and her online name is "Word Girl!"

    ..iIf you look up thingamjig, I wonder if its definition is whatchamacallit? (Something my grandma used to say...)

  3. Kelly G.W.--Thingamajiggy--must be a verson of thingummy?? :) Very useful words when the "real" term escapes one.

  4. Kelly--Thingamabob is right above thingamajig in my dictionary, and it is defined as thingamajig! Could just as easily have been whatchamacallit, though!

  5. I find myself jotting down the word verifications such as the one for this comment which is: angizing. I think about what it could mean like having an angina attack? I keep thinking someday I'll use these nonsense words in a poem but it never gets done.

    I have more pet peeves with words rather than favorite ones. One of the peeves I have is quite a large number of bloggers use loose for lose and lose for loose! I don't know why so many do it but they do and now you'll be watching to see if you notice it or will you?

  6. Timaree--I love the idea of writing down the word verifications--they're often so strange. And don't get me started on misusage and misspellings of words! I've worked as an editor for years, and though I know I make mistakes, I cringe when I see them in print. One of my own pet peeves is reign used in place of rein--as is, "rei(g)n in your temper." Aaaaghhh.

  7. Not sure of the spelling, but we have a lot of "dooflickies" around here.

    As to the misusage, misspelling, misquoted, bad grammar—guilty as charged!

    As to the word verifications...they sometimes look like they could be a word, so like Timaree, I sometimes try to come up with some goofy meaning.

  8. Laure--I wonder if your dooflickies are related to our "doomaflagies"?! (I'm also not sure of the spelling...but since we made it up, I guess however I spell it is the correct way!)