My blog description reads: “I am an English teacher trainer with a passion for beauty, fashion, dance, music, reading, languages…” Languages, you may wonder? Apart from the fact that I am an English teacher, language and linguistic oddities have always been a passion of mine, but as of late I have not been writing much about this wonderful called language. Language enables this blog and much of human communication in general and I find it a fascinating topic. I thought I’d bring the topic back to the blog by telling about my favorite words from the English language.
Don’t you just love my cursive handwriting?
1.) moist (mɔɪst)
1. slightly damp or wet
2. saturated with or suggestive of moisture
[C14: from Old French, ultimately related to Latin mūcidus musty, from mūcusmucus] ˈmoistlyadvˈmoistnessn
The reason why I love this word is the fact that it sounds exactly like what it means. Just say a few times in row and you’ll know what I mean. I’m guessing is the s-t combination at the end. It gives me goosebumps if I say it to many times, because well… it also resonates meanings of gross things. Like a t-shirt that is not quite dry yet and still sticks to your body, or mossy undergrowth.
2.) swell (swɛl)
17. stylish or grand
18. excellent; first-class
[Old English swellan; related to Old Norse svella, Old Frisian swella, German schwellen]
I am particularly fond of this word when used as an adjective. It is also a verb and a noun, but in those instances this word means something completely different. Meaning ‘cool’ in the jazz age, I first came across this in quotes from the 1920s/ 1930s: “you wanna have a swell time?” Or: “Last night was swell.”. I just think it sounds so much better than anything that has been popular in recent years. Especially when you really pronounce the ‘swell’ with extravagance and diction, it just carries the meaning of the word so much better. Watch Boardwalk Empire (or Chicago The Musical) and you’ll know what I mean. In fact, I think I could do an entire post about words that have gone out of style or words that have changed meanings. Did you know that the word ‘nice’ used to mean something negative 500 years ago?
3.) periwinkle (ˈpɛrɪˌwɪŋkəl)
1. (Plants) any of several Eurasian apocynaceous evergreen plants of the genus Vinca, such as V. minor (lesser periwinkle) and V. major (greater periwinkle), having trailing stems and blue flowersAlso called (US): creeping myrtleortrailing myrtle
a. a light purplish-blue colour
b. (as adjective): a periwinkle coat.
[C14 pervenke, from Old English perwince, from Late Latin pervinca]
If you’d combine the two reasons why I like the words above: the sound of it and the meaning of it being apt, you’ll get why I like this word. The word ‘periwinkle’ just makes me happy. Perhaps because it rhymes with ‘twinkle’? I don’t know. What I do know is that periwinkle is one of my favorite colors. I have eyeshadows, nail polishes and even a shirt in this color. Yup I love me some periwinkle.
4.) onomatopoeia (ˌɒnəˌmætəˈpiːə)
1. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the formation of words whose sound is imitative of the sound of the noise or action designated, such as hiss, buzz, and bang
2. (Literary & Literary Critical Terms) the use of such words for poetic or rhetorical effect
[C16: via Late Latin from Greek onoma name + poiein to make]
Onomato-what? That was the first thing I thought when I came across this work during my freshmen year in college. It’s not that difficult once you get the hang of it thought. On-no-ma-to-peh-ya. Or if you can read phonetics you can look at the transcription above. I just love that there is a word, at first sight a very complicated word, to describe something so simple. If you’ve ever played a game with a little kid who’s learning the noises different animals make, knows what I mean. A pig makes what noise? Oink. A sheep? Bah. Oink and Bah are onomatopoeic words which a little kid aged no more than a year can produce and yet, the word category itself is a Greek loanword that most people would deem a major tongue twister.
5.) loquacious (lɒˈkweɪʃəs)
1. characterized by or showing a tendency to talk a great deal
[C17: from Latin loquāx from loquī to speak]
My fifth word is one that very much applies to me if you know in real life. In layman’s terms this means ‘talkative’ and that is what I am! Especially when we hit a topic I truly like, I have a tendency to just keep on rambling and rambling. My brain is also a bit funny, which doesn’t help. I just keep connecting things, one topic to the next and it forms this endless string of ideas, opinions and information. I learnt quickly though that most people don’t appreciate that so I now know when I need to ‘bite my tongue’ as it were, but at times I can still get carried away. Oh and if you think this word is rarely used, it’s not. I found this word ‘happening’ in one of the Harry Potter movies.
6.) receptacle (rɪˈsɛptəkəl)
1. an object that holds something; container
2. (Botany) botany
a. the enlarged or modified tip of the flower stalk that bears the parts of the flower
b. the shortened flattened stem bearing the florets of the capitulum of composite flowers such as the daisy
c. the part of lower plants that bears the reproductive organs or spores
[C15: from Latin receptāculum a store-place, from receptāre to receive again, from recipere to receive]
Last but not least a bonus word and very much a: ‘but-why-didn’t-you-say-so’ word. I found this word on a notice on a lady’s room door at a golf course in England. It said to please dispose of towels in the receptacle provided. Now towels are the pads you use when you have a period (in case you weren’t aware), but I kept cracking my head thinking: but what is a receptacle? It sounds like a new type of Transformer to me… And then I thought: oh my, they mean the trash can! So if you want to sound smart next time you’re in an English language setting and you’re looking to throw something away, just ask if they have a receptacle.