A Few of My Favorite Words

Do you spend much time thinking about your favorite words, calling each one to the forefront of your mind so that you can explain to yourself once again just how much that word delights you and why? I tend to have these little reunions with my old friends when I’m driving to work in the morning.

Allow me to introduce you to a few of them.

Leonard Cohen

Lugubrious. Now, “lugubrious” is a fellow I love dearly, but I just can’t take him out in public. How I long for an opportunity to say, “I have a deep appreciation for the lugubrious musical stylings of the late poet-singer-song-writer Leonard Cohen,” but the opportunity never seems to present itself.

Family Photo

Pixilated. I was introduced to “pixilated” years ago in a work of regional fiction (Southern, I think, although it could have been New England). It was used to describe an eccentric old woman who behaved as though taking direction from pixies. I can’t imagine a more delightful way to live: charming and mischievous, with little thought given to responsibilities and no need to justify oneself. Unfortunately, I can never introduce “pixilated” into a conversation because she’ll always be mistaken for her homonym “pixelated,” what happens when your Netflix video starts breaking up.

Modality. “Modality” is one of those words that I am unable to take seriously because of the way it sounds. While I understand its place in the health care lexicon, I simply cannot say it with a straight face.ย  I have to syllabicate it and put air quotes around it: “It is regrettable that the latest treatment ‘mo-‘dal-i-ty’ has had no salutary effect on her regrettable condition.”

Snark. I can appreciate “snark” because it connotes a certain agility of thought and facility with language that the simple passive aggression or petulance of its cousin “sarcasm” lacks. Think of Samuel Johnson’s description of poet Edward Young’s poems: “Young froths, and foams, and bubbles sometimes very vigorously; but we must not compare the noise made by your teakettle here with the roaring of the ocean.”1

Buffoon. Now, as insults go, few come better than “buffoon.” So much more elegant than [expletive not inserted]. By far, my favorite use of the word was by a former colleague to describe a dysfunctional department. He referred to the department as a “cadre of buffoons,” going so far as to label them as such on a flip chart! They had a certain cohesion and delineation of roles that enabled them to function as a group, but individually and collectively they were completely inept.

And I’ll end with “edification,” which is what the purpose of this post should have been but wasn’t.


1ย Jack Lynch, ed., Samuel Johnson’s Insults: A Compendium of Snubs, Sneers, Slights, and Effronteries from the Eighteenth-Centry Master (New York: Levenger Press, 2004), 68.

Image of Leonard Cohen by Rama, Wikimedia Commons.

Image of Cover, Samuel Johnson’s Insults, Levenger Press.

9 thoughts on “A Few of My Favorite Words

    1. Hmmm. I don’t think I’ve seen “contrivance” much. I’ll have to read more movie reviews! On the other hand, as a fiction workshop survivor, I’ve seen “contrived” tossed around more times than I care to remember.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Namaste Liz ๐Ÿ™‚

    A fine collection of well-defined words. You appear to be something of a logophile or a philologos, but quite how these words come to you when driving fascinates me no end ๐Ÿ™‚

    Lugubrious is my choice from this list: its lyrical aesthetic – best enjoyed when spoken out-loud – is but a disguise for its dolorous disposition. I like the contrast in that.

    Also appreciated was the phrase, ‘a cadre of buffoons!’ – as if staff had been specially trained in the fool’s art. Wonderful! I shall appropriate the phrase and find a suitable occasion when venting my spleen to give it an airing.

    I have but one word to offer before departing for the Land of Zzzzz, which was a favourite of my grandfather’s – prestidigitation – whom I always regarded as being something of a wizard.

    Thank you for a most enjoyable post. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    Take care. Namaste ๐Ÿ™‚

    DN

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comments, Dewin! I’m glad you enjoyed your acquaintance with my little friends. I have no idea why these things occur to me while I’m driving. My mind tends to wander and free-associate as soon as the car starts moving. (Yes, I have from time to time missed my work exit.) The cadre of buffoons was definitely one for the ages!! The originator of the phrase even had a little diagram on his flip chart to illustrate it! I like the addition of prestidigitation to the list. Speaking of grandfathers, mine would make a big show of dropping two Saccharin tablets into his instant decaf coffee and declare the resulting bubbles magic! How’s that for misappropriation of prestidigitation?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Namaste Liz ๐Ÿ™‚

      I very much enjoyed meeting with (else greeted by) and reminded of these wonderful words. Your regard for them is delightful: obvious to me is how much you cherish their company.

      Your grandfather sounds a wonderful character, and indeed, had you not witnessed the insertion of sweeteners into the coffee cup, then ‘hey presto!’ his prestidigitation would have delighted you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Grandfathers somehow know all the tricks of the trade to satisfy an enquiring mind: rarely do they disappoint! My grandfather retained many Victorian values, so occasion when he let slip the stern demeanour remain treasured memories. I wish I had had opportunity to know him far better.

      I enjoyed hearing of your freely-associating, wandering mind whilst driving and love the fact you’ve missed turn-offs as a result! That is quite charming. I wonder if it is the motion that excites the little grey-cells or perhaps enclosure within a moving private space that stimulates the mind in this way. I don’t drive but use public transport to get about – it is not quite the same as occupying a private space, but long train journeys are enjoyable in as much that they afford opportunity to transit through time and space without care or need to focus….one enters a dream state very readily.

      The idea of a flip-chart illustration supporting the phrase, ‘a cadre of buffoons’ just to reinforce the message is delightful. However, one wonders how effective it was when viewed by clowns ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you for taking time-out to visit Dewin’s: it’s always a pleasure to welcome a new friend.

      Hoping you enjoy a pleasant evening and a wonderful weekend. Take care,

      Brightest Blessings, Namaste ๐Ÿ™‚

      DN

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You struck a chord with your comment about wishing you could have known your grandfather better. The older I become, the more I wish I could have known my grandparents better. The generational divide seemed very, very wide when I was growing up.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Namaste Liz ๐Ÿ™‚

          And perhaps not just the generational divide but physical distance as well. My grandparents were a good 5 hour drive away from the family home meaning our visits were limited to vacation in that area, by the time of their passing, I was still to young to drive or take a long-distance train-ride on my own. Perhaps I should have insisted more than I did but parents always have the final word when one is a minor.

          Like you the wish to know them both far better – especially my grandfather – remains unfulfilled and is now limited to hear-say, family recollection, a handful of photographs, and my fading personal memories. My impression of him thus remains as it was way back then – an enigmatic character, seldom seen, full of mystery, and magic.

          I spent a couple of months some years ago picking up the threads of our family ancestry and discovered some new material about my grandfather that hadn’t been known before. fascinating though it was to enjoy such material only prompted further questions, which is of course the catch 22 in such an exercise.

          Thank you for your reply.

          Namaste ๐Ÿ™‚

          DN

          Liked by 1 person

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