These are a few of my favorite words


A Facebook friend wrote, “Don’t you just hate when you forget to say certain things during an argument, and then you remember… like two hours later?” I replied with a link to my post about treppenwitz, one of my favorite words. German has a lot of wonderful words, mostly very long, and I don’t tend to remember them, but that one stuck.

A nice short word, ersatz, is also from the German. I found it in a book about Beatles and post-Beatles albums. Ringo put out Goodnight Vienna in the mid-1970s. John, Paul, and George all appear on various tracks, and the author described the collection as “an ersatz Beatles album.”

When Wendy and Richard Pini concluded the original 20-issue run, they mentioned that # 19 was the penultimate issue. How did I miss this word? And it was one of my favorite words until I discovered antepenultimate, the one before the next to the last.

Prefixes I didn’t know always make me happy. Sesquicentennial, meaning the 150th anniversary, is one, but oddly, I don’t remember what entity was experiencing that milestone.

French words I tend to love, such as rendezvous and reconnaissance. Those two, in particular, seem rather Bondian.

Some words I like because they’re fun to say: Onamonapia is cool because the word fits a niche in my brain. It is “the formation or use of words such as buzz or murmur that imitate the sounds associated with the objects or actions they refer to.” I can’t spell it, though.

I enjoy the word facetiously for two reasons. It has all six vowels alphabetically, and the pronunciation is not apparent. There are words I intentionally mispronounce privately to remind me how to spell them. FACE -TEA-US-LEE. There are others, but none are coming to mind presently.

In a rut

There are words I use way too often. Suboptimal pops up when a decision is required without enough data or when the lesser of two bad choices must be made.

Since October 7, 2023, the word fraught has popped up in my mouth too often. No matter what position one takes on the Israel/Gaza conflict, the chance that someone else will misrepresent their views is exceptionally high.

But my favorite word is one I created, or so I believe. Lunaversary “is the monthly recurrence of a notable event. It is far more accurate than ‘one-month anniversary,’ and far shorter to boot.” As I noted, I sent the word to the late William Safire, the New York Times columnist of On Language, who seemed to like it.

BTW, Safire was a speechwriter in the White House of Richard Nixon. He wrote “nattering nabobs of negativism” for Spiro T. Agnew in a 1970 attack on the press. I hate the sentiment, but admittedly, I love the vocabulary.

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