If you happened to read my guest column on DearReader.com on Sept. 17, you know it was about the word “numinous” and how I loved the way it sounded, but never found a way to use it. Afterwards, I got a ton of mail from other word-lovers telling me their favorite esoteric words.
Darlene, from Port Charlotte, Florida, wrote that her word was “boustrophedonic.” Boy, did that send me on a dictionary search! Turns out it’s an ancient form of writing, in which each line goes in an opposite direction. Don’t imagine it comes up very often in conversation, but it does have a ring to it.
Glenda G. wrote that she liked to confound her children with phrases like “veritable plethora” and “druthers.” She said after hearing her eight-year-old son say their dog was “impenetrable to tank fire” she knew she had passed along her love of words to her kids. “Plethora” is a favorite of Cathy D.’s too, because it brings up fond memories of a departed friend who liked to say it. Cathy loves “damask” too, just for the way it sounds.
Diana H. said she loved “bifurcate,” which now may become my favorite cuss word. It has a nice cussy ring to it, don’t you think? Stub your toe in the dark, and you could say, “Oh, bifurcate!” It has a satisfying sound, especially if you’ve split your toe.
Sharon R. likes “tangential,” and her four-year-old grandson likes “kerfuffle” during their “word a weekend” game. Melanie A. likes “egregious” and Ruth D. loves “discombobulate,” which was also my mother’s favorite word. Judie N. submitted “absquatulate.” Now there’s a word! She says it means to leave in a hurry, and you can be sure I’m going to find a way to say that word before the day is over.
What’s your favorite word that you never get to use?