Friday, May 09, 2008

words [ <3 ]

One of the reasons I love to read, particularly certain authors, is because I love learning new, perfect words. English has so many words that we English speakers are blessed with almost limitless potential to say things in precise and interesting ways. Yay English.

So I just finished my boyfriend Michael Chabon's recent essay collection, MAPS & LEGENDS. Another reason I love him! Off the top of my head, I remember these awesome words that I learned:

Suppurating: oozing pus
Anagnorisis: moment of recognition

Thanks, Michael.

I also recently enjoyed Martha Moody's BEST FRIENDS, which taught me these two words, which I now incorporate into daily conversation as often as possible:

Cachexic: sickly
Onanist: one who masturbates

(Ten points to anyone who can get both into the same sentence. Twenty if you can get all four.)

You guys have any favorite words? Or wordsy authors to recommend?

24 comments:

Brian said...

I think anyone who manages to get all four words into a sentence will have this year's winning entry for the Bulwer-Lytton competition.

One of my most favoritist words of all time? Sesquipedalian. It means 'characterized by the use of long words.' Isn't it faboo?

writtenwyrdd said...

I knew one of those words. Only one.

From the Manual of Abnormal Psychology (not really): "For the onanist patient, anagnorisis of the problem may not occur until the patient is cachexic, exhibiting hairy palms or the supperating rash typical of aggravated friction..."

I've been reading Shadowbridge, a fantasy by Gregory Frost, and besides being a lovely fantasy novel, I've discovered several words Ihadn't heard before. I was too lazy to jot them down so I've forgotten them, though!

Froog said...

Well done, WW!

Of course, if the challenge had been to incorporate all of those words into a sonnet (or a sestina or a ghazal).......

The sin of Onan was "spilling his seed upon the ground". I've always wondered if he might just have been an incompetent wagon driver.

Conduit said...

I'm a little disturbed at only knowing the word "onanism" from that list. Moving swiftly on...

One of favourite words I often see in American novels is "copacetic". I have yet to find an opportune moment to slip it ito conversation, but I live in hope.

Charles Gramlich said...

I love good words and that was always one of my joys in reading fantasy, learning new weird and crazy words. I used to really like words having to do with armor and weapons. Let's see:

Onager, glaive, misericord (spelling on that last one)

Sarahlynn said...

I have long been fond of "suppurating," probably due to my childhood penchant for Victorian literature. The others were all new to me.

Conduit, in college, for some reason, I found "copacetic" an indispsensible part of my daily vocabulary. I suspect that I was incredibly annoying to be around.

Here goes:

Looking more closely at the rustling form partially hidden by the sheet, Moonrat had an unpleasant anagnorisis: that cachexic, suppurating, onanist was her ex-boyfriend. She resolved to take a long, hot shower as soon as she got home.

Precie said...

Yay, a fellow logophile!!!!

No sweat:

The isolated patient looked familiar. She felt sympathy toward the cachexic man in his hospital room, especially when she saw the suppurating wounds on his thin arms, but sympathy quickly turned to horror as she saw what his hands were doing, saw that he was an onanist, just as angorisis occurred. He was her 3rd grade teacher, the one she'd had a crush on so many years ago.

Lisa said...

Good ones! I too am disturbed at the thought that "onanist" was the only one I immediately recognized.

I discovered a phrase several years ago that I love, but have never been able to slip into conversation. It's the French term, l'esprit d'escalier, which translates to stairway wit and refers to the predicament of thinking of a clever comeback too late. Since I find myself in that predicament fairly often, it's frustrating that I've never found occasion to use it. I just discovered that there's also a German term called Treppenwitz, that means "wise after the event" and is basically the same concept.

Lisa said...

Oh, and Conduit, I was once guilty of the overuse of the term "copacetic". It seems to have fallen out of favor over the last 20 years, but at one time people said it fairly often. One of the more typical uses was as a response to a question about how things were going or what the status of a particular situation was. "Everything is copacetic" was a stock response.

Linda said...

Fun. As a health professional, I knew all the words but one: anagnorisis. Great word. As is sesquipedalian (thanks, Brian; I'm going to lob that one at my brilliant 8 year-old spelling bee champ of a son tonight).

Fun challenge, but difficult to do without making the sentence lurid (one of my favorite words, along with florid). Here goes...

Too bony, too cachexic, he muttered, shoving her from the damp bed and deciding in that instant to remain an onanist, forever if need be, enough with these damned diseased whores, but as he grasped at his suppurating self, he suffered an anagnorisis: he was the reason for her wasting.

Well anyway, that was appetizing. Time to plan dinner... Peace, Linda

moonrat said...

teehee. awesome job, guys. only one question: how does everyone know so much about my love life?!?!

Josephine Damian said...

Variations on a theme:

Googanist: one who googles themself.

cindy said...

i never knew onanist--never heard of it, never came across. but i do know its synonym : man.

haha! just kidding! =p

one of my favorite words is "surreptitious", i also like "esoteric" (which i picked up from asinov's foundations--i only read the first few pages cause i liked a boy). i manged to use both in my novel at least once. =)

i can't stop to look up a word while reading--so i usually never find its definition, only by context.

writtenwyrdd said...

I used to have the widest vocabulary of anyone I knew...and then I started hanging out with you people!

Chumplet said...

I made up a word in my first novel. Margaret bites into a hamburger after weeks of fish and fruit and declares she's having a hambergasm.

Bernita said...

MoonDear, you MUST get a copy of "The Superior Person's Book of Words," by Peter Bowler.
You will love it.

Sample:
FUTTOCK n. A particular wooden component - the exact nature of which is unknown to the author -in the structure of a ship. A ridiculous word. If you have a yachting or otherwise nautical friend, make a point of always greeting him with the cheerful inquiry : "And how are your futtocks these days, old bean?"

Words In, Words Out said...

Okay, I'll see your love of words and raise you one. I have a tattoo of the word 'stentorian' on my ribs. It means very loud :) here's a link to it on my mypsace... http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/inde
x.cfm?fuseaction=viewImage&friendID=
23263005&albumID=0&imageID=19811238

Ulysses said...

I'm a fan of Lovecraft for his use of archaic, obscure English words: squamous (scaly), stygian (black), rugose (wrinkled), proboscidian (elephant-like)... Pick up any of his works and you're guaranteed to run across a half-dozen never seen before and likely never to be seen again.

It still amazes me that he tried to create a mood of creeping, amorphous (shapeless) horror by using words nobody else knew.

Kaytie M. Lee said...

TC Boyle uses those ten dollar words. I love it.

Recently I used "pelagic" in a sentence--it just popped into my head when I wanted it--I've no idea how I came to know it, unless from the aforementioned TCB--and it suited my needs perfectly. It was a great writing moment. :)

haunted author said...

My husband uses copacetic quite a bit-he's the only person I know that does that. I'll have to throw futtock at him sometime- he sails quite a bit and he's currently reading Patrick O'Brian.

One of my favorite words is defenestration- which is killing someone by throwing them out the window. Kind of hard to drop that one in everyday conversation...

I just finished reading (a few weeks ago, actually) Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay"
Loved that book- so much so I talked my bookgroup into reading it for next months book.

Bernita said...

Another one is "The Disheveled Dictionary" ( A courious Caper Through Our Sumptious Lexicon) by Karen Elizabeth Gordon.
It's delicious.

A said...

Hi Moonrat! This is my first comment on your blog so I just wanted to mention I really enjoy reading it. :)

Some of my favourite words are parlous, petrichor, and effervescent. I like Thomas Wharton and Michael Ondaatje for their vocabulary choices. (I also get a lot of good words from the WWFTD mailing list, which is much like a treasure chest.)

JES said...

Late to the party, but: tundra; disingenuous; lambent; plangent; en deshabillé.

Maybe 15 years ago, Howard Rheingold did a book called They Have a Word for It, a selection of words in languages other than English for which English has no exact equivalent. (But for which, it goes without saying, he wished there were.) One of my favorites from that was razbliuto (Russian, I think), which he defined as something like "the emotion one feels for someone he once loved, but no longer does." I've since seen it debunked as a real word, and maybe it isn't. But I have a lingering, poignant fondness for it still, a... hmm... what's the word...?

Debra said...

The newbie onanist, exultant in anagnorisis, understood that what he had assumed was merely cachexic supperation, was something else entirely.

And my favorite word -- tintinnabulation. Not so much for the word but because any time I hear it, write it or think it, I hear my mother's voice reciting the poem to me when I was a child. She grew up in the Bronx and played in Poe Park, a heady experience for someone who loved to read.