Everyone has a favourite word or two. In some cases, it’s the sound or the look of the word that appeals, in others it’s the meaning.
Some examples of favourite words chosen in a recent online survey are: nefarious, ineffable, epoch, ephemeral, sonorous, iridescent, epiphany and aurora.
I came across the favourite words of famous people. The word yes was chosen by Dustin Hoffman, Jim Carrey, Sissy Spacek, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg. Anthony Hopkins, on the other hand, chose no because he had spent so much of his life saying ‘yes’ when he should have said ‘no’.
Dad or Daddy was the favourite for Brad Pitt, Jude Law and Tom Hanks while Hillary Clinton and Jennifer Lopez chose Love.
Some interesting words were: verdurous (Daniel Radcliffe), empyrean (Drew Barrymore), serendipity (Ellen Barkin), panache (Hugh Jackman), ambrosia (John Travolta), compassion (Michael Crawford), gravitas (Kiefer Sutherland), ramshackle (Ray Bradbury), pusillanimous (Russell Crowe), mellifluous (Tim Robbins), tenebrous (Stephen King), pixilated Mark Hamill and marsupial (Hugh Laurie).
They are all actors or writers, who work in the medium of the spoken or written word and come across many examples of vocabulary.
Russian writer Maxim Gorky believed that the most beautiful words in the English language are Not Guilty while English writer Henry James favoured Summer afternoon. In both cases, I guess it’s the meaning that appeals.
What about the people who write the dictionaries and are familiar with so many more words than the average English speaker? Here are some of the favourite words of lexicographers from Oxford Dictionaries:
The first one is twiffler, which I had to look up. It’s a plate that’s bigger than a side plate and smaller than a dinner plate. It has a certain ring to it. Hmm, shall I use it in a crossword? It might be a good word for a Stinker or Baffler so watch out for this one!
Numpty is a Scottish word meaning a daft person and geoduck, pronounced gooey-duck, is a type of saltwater clam, a seafood delicacy in New Zealand and Canada.
One lexicographer likes the word vulpine – fox-like, because the V represents the shape of the fox’s face. Counterintuitive is another favourite. A lovely meaning, an adjective for something that is not what you naturally think it to be. Ombrifuge, a word only familiar to those clever lexicographers, means ‘Something providing shelter from the rain; spec. an umbrella.’.
One of the words they chose, which I am also very fond of, is kerfuffle, a fuss. The chooser said that when he first heard this word as a child, he imagined a kind of furry loveable creature like a powder puff but with legs and a face.
Let us know what your favourite words are – or your least favourite!