I can’t exactly explain why, but certain words appeal to me and others don’t. It seems a silly thing to parse out favorite and least favorite words, as if they are colors or architectural styles. But perhaps they are. Words can be delicious, so I share some of my likes and dislikes with you today.
My Favorite Words
I just like the way “garlicky” sounds, and it seems to come with a smell as well. Whenever I’m cooking and I open the jar of chopped garlic, I have a nice whiff before adding some to the dish I’m cooking. I realize that not everybody likes garlic, but I do. “Abstemious” sounds important, and I’m all for moderation, so this word describes an ideal I tend to uphold, except when it comes to ice cream. “Magnanimous” is a word I’ve learned the hard way. I’ve faced many disappointments and failures, but my former boss Alex taught me how to be magnanimous. I now have a friend in my Ph.D. program who is the epitome of this. Whenever something good happens to somebody in our program, he’s the first to congratulate them. “Jejune” is one of those words I hoped to trick people with. I can’t remember where I first heard it, but I used it to try to stump coworkers when we were talking about words and definitions. It didn’t fool anybody!
My Least Favorite Words
My sisters, if they are reading, could tell you all about how much I hate the world “butterball.” It all began during Thanksgiving in the 1980s, when turkeys were all over the television. I could not believe that anybody would use the name “butterball” to describe anything. It just sounds disgusting. A ball of butter? No thanks! A ball of whipped cream? Uh, yes please!
The other three words, “very,” “really,” and “you,” are pet peeves from my teaching days. Students often used these too often. To me, as a writing instructor, the words “very” and “really” don’t mean much. When being descriptive, use words more meaningful than those. Now, the word “you” is okay, just not when writing an academic essay. There are more formal ways to address an audience. However, “you” is appropriate in many other situations, of course.
Do you have favorite and least favorite words?