Metatalktail Hour: Favorite Words July 29, 2017 7:24 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week's conversation starter: What is your favorite word, and why?

As always, talk about anything you like (except politics) and send future suggestions my way!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 7:24 PM (148 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Smote - because it's the verb in one of my favorite phrases, "smote him about the head and shoulders."
posted by Bruce H. at 7:35 PM on July 29, 2017

• putrescence
• lupine
• feather
• scuffle
• quake
posted by Fizz at 7:36 PM on July 29, 2017

• doom
posted by Fizz at 7:36 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Maybe I should list single world video game titles, they all seem to be words I really love.
posted by Fizz at 7:37 PM on July 29, 2017

posted by sammyo at 7:38 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Soupçon. In English we use it to mean 'a little', like a pinch of a spice. But in French it means 'suspicion'. I love the idea of flavouring a dish so delicately that there is only a suspicion of nutmeg in it.
posted by Sauter Vaguely at 7:39 PM on July 29, 2017 [23 favorites]

Tharn from the rabbit language in Watership Down. In the book it's the state of being frozen, as when a car or other catastrophe is bearing down, that creates great risk, but also allows for the adrenaline to gather that will fuel the rabbit's leap to safety. I used to make a lot of high stress public presentations, and it was this state of blankness I'd feel when being asked a difficult question, but meanwhile on some level I'd be gathering my wits about me and then I'd suddenly be able to reel off a satisfying answer.
posted by carmicha at 7:42 PM on July 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

Quincunx, followed closely by quidnunc. They produce a strange yet satisfying feeling when saying them.
posted by zsazsa at 7:49 PM on July 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

The phrase "one fell swoop" moved both swoop and fell to the top 10 of my Favorite Words list. But ever since I started using Wendell as a semi-professional pen/DJ name, I've been partial to words ending in "-ell" (cell, dell, dwell, hell, jell, kell, Nell, Prell, smell, tell, well, yell), preferably with two Ls (to me, Arrested Development's "Mr. Wendal" just got it WRONG). And when I first heard "one swell foop" as a malaprop of "one fell swoop", I knew everything for me would be swell. (Related: I once knew some motorcycle racers with the reputation for the most accidents and injuries in their league, who took on the name "Team Swolen" and gave me one of their team t-shirts). So the good stuff is Swell, the bad stuff is Swolen. Jessamyn's later observation that Wendell is an anagram of "end well" just added to the "ell" serendipity.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:01 PM on July 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I guess I like "pellucid" and "shrift".
posted by batter_my_heart at 8:03 PM on July 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'll have to think about my own favorites, but I do remember a math teacher in jr. high school whose favorite word was "multiplicative".
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:09 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by barchan at 8:13 PM on July 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Pecksniffian: hypocritically and unctuously affecting benevolence or high moral principles.

A word for our times.
posted by xyzzy at 8:16 PM on July 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

Palimpsest, because nothing we say has never been said.
posted by dogrose at 8:18 PM on July 29, 2017 [7 favorites]

posted by Oyéah at 8:18 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

breakfast? I prefer "brunch" because it lets me sleep in, but I'm sorry "brupper" never caught on.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:21 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


I can use it to address any person or thing, and with varying intonations it communicates reproof, admiration, a request for patience, and more.

posted by wenestvedt at 8:23 PM on July 29, 2017 [10 favorites]

I once managed to work in floccinaucinihilipilification at a public meeting and I was quite proud of myself.

I quite like "limn" or "limning" (as I mentioned earlier tonight in the NYT book critic thread).

I think "elision" is really pretty. "Evocative" is pleasing to say. "Tintinnabulum." "Borborygmus." "Omphaloskepsis." "Junk" is very satisfying, it is my replacement kid-safe swear for the f-bomb now that I have kids.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:28 PM on July 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Shipoopi is my replacements swear word for kids and work and I love it. Some people get the reference and a little sing a long occurs, and some don't and I just smile and say it's a song.

I have been saying "fetid" a lot lately, but only because Baby Kitty loves to splash in puddles of water, regardless of their origin , so No fetid water is now a Thing I say as a normal sentence, as well as don't lick the cat.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 8:38 PM on July 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Now, substitute swear-words... the comic strip syndicators have a word for the symbols that substitute for letters in "naughty" words: grawlix. And I sometimes say "Grawlix!" when I need to keep kid-safe, PG or SFW. I grew up using the Yosemite Sam profanity substitutes: "rassin' frassin' flim flam..." but my absolutely favorite substitute swear word is Red Dwarf's "smeg". It got me interested in "Science Fictional profanity" and one of my never-done website ideas was a glossary of swear words from SF and Fantasy worlds... in honor of the popularity of Battlestar Galactica, I was going to call it "The FRAKtionary".

On edit, shipoopi is also a good one. And I say that as a one-time participant in a High School production of "The Music Man" where we frequently uttered shipoopi...
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:42 PM on July 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

posted by b33j at 8:51 PM on July 29, 2017 [10 favorites]

My favorite word is tokidoki (時々)which means sometimes. It's just an awesome word.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:55 PM on July 29, 2017 [7 favorites]

It was 'captious' for years, but last week in a Federal Circuit Court case I read the word 'contumacious' and now I think that's it. I don't get to say either one very often, but I think them. My workplace isn't as bad as that makes it sound, I promise.
posted by ctmf at 8:57 PM on July 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

I tend to fixate on a particular word, use it all the time, and then get bored of it. This may be a metaphor for my life. For a while, it was "riven," which I never use anymore.

I managed to completely delight my friend's eight-year-old by teaching her the word "defenestrate." It is kind of awesome that the word defenestrate exists. A helpful factoid when teaching the word defenestrate to 8-year-olds is that everyone survived the most famous defenestration, the Defenestration of Prague.

So my exciting news is that I moved into my new house this week. I am making progress towards unpacking and will pick out a color to paint the walls this week if it kills me. Which it might.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:57 PM on July 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

wenestvedt: 'dude' is frowned on here at work, and as a California transplant it makes me feel like "my people" are discriminated against here. Though sometimes, being flawlessly fluent in "dude" intonation for the situation can be the perfect "straight talk time" opener. (When used like profanity - sparingly, for intentional effect)
posted by ctmf at 9:05 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Spackle paste. Simply because it's fun to say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:09 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Y'all" which is not native to where I grew up but nobody called me out on it in five years on the east coast and I doubt anyone will notice now that I'm in Minnesota.
posted by dismas at 9:12 PM on July 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

Noodle. It's just so much fun to say and it achieves semantic satiation pretty quickly.
posted by AFABulous at 9:16 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some people like knick-knacks, some like tchotchkes, but I prefer whickety-whack.
posted by NoraCharles at 9:20 PM on July 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

I don't have a favourite word. I love them all equally.

On the other hand, the child has a few favourites: Pretzel, Playground and Penis, which are not pronounced exactly the same, but very close, as well as Bum and Poop, and the current most-repeated words, Burp and Chocolate.

It is not yet seven in the morning and I have already heard the word Chocolate nearly a hundred times.
posted by frimble (staff) at 9:39 PM on July 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

posted by h00py at 9:44 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Conflate." Used it way too much in undergrad English papers and it just kind of stuck. Mostly I warn people not to conflate things, though. I used it in a meeting the other day and it struck me that I don't normally hear other people use it out loud (though I see it written a reasonable amount), which seems odd, given how useful I find it.

"Diaphanous" is one of my favorite pretty-to-say words.
posted by lazuli at 9:59 PM on July 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yuubinkyoku (post office in Japanese) is the first that popped into my head. I love the feel of it when I say it. Most of my favourite words are Japanese. I love the language but I don't get to hear or speak it often. Oosutoraria (Australia) and Nyuujirando (New Zealand) are others.
posted by poxandplague at 10:09 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


(and Pizza, but not together.)
posted by AugustWest at 10:11 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

I try to use fun sounding words as hostnames of computers. Last workstation was greeble, current is zeugma.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:12 PM on July 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

(Oh, also, can anyone confirm the pronunciation of greeble? I always assumed it was gree-bal, but a few years ago I watched some video about a VFX-related topic and a person in it pronounced it gree-blee which would be horrifying if true.)
posted by Rhomboid at 10:16 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Onomatopoeia. It just sounds like such a nice word.
posted by MT at 10:38 PM on July 29, 2017 [5 favorites]

Delight, dazzle, petrichor, defenestrate, and boop. (Sounds a bit like a law firm.)
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:41 PM on July 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

Crepuscular. Troglodyte.

Funny: The words I like can stand on their own just being nice to say. If I don't like a word, it's through no fault of the word itself but of its significance.
posted by klanawa at 10:55 PM on July 29, 2017 [4 favorites]

I don't have favorite words on offer, but I'm housesitting tonight across from a big Asian grocery store with all sorts of foods I'm not used to seeing in my local grocery stores. I bought melon popsicles and durian flavoring. It makes me want to live in this part of town so I can try things like purple yam jam and beans in syrup and figure out how to use jackfruit well, and did I mention there was a whole tub of chopped lemongrass in the frozen section for $0.99?

I can now confirm that I probably did really actually like durian all those years ago when I tried it. It smells like fruit + sulfur. My new theory is that if you like the scents of asafoetida and kala namak, there's a good chance you also like durian.
posted by aniola at 10:58 PM on July 29, 2017


Other words (names, really) that please me: Erimlinda, Cuthbert.
posted by smangosbubbles at 11:06 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

For some reason the Spanish word for "unfortunately" tickles me: "desafortunadamente." It's so extravagantly long.

My favorite expression of disapprobation: "twee."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:17 PM on July 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

An old cartoon re-exposed me to the word "perspicacity", or as it was used "We averted disaster thanks to your perspicacity" "Yeah, thank Mr. Cassidy for me too!"
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:21 PM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

A helpful factoid when teaching the word defenestrate to 8-year-olds is that everyone survived the most famous defenestration, the Defenestration of Prague.

The Second one, yes. The First one, not so much.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:21 PM on July 29, 2017

The wonderful thing about the word "defenestration" is how it is seems a so much classier way of saying 'throw somebody out a window'. It's in the same category as "discombobulate" (one of my other favorite words) instead of 'confuse' or "disembowel" instead of 'cut out all the internal organs'.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:38 PM on July 29, 2017

butts, lol.
posted by Literaryhero at 11:55 PM on July 29, 2017 [3 favorites]

Serendipitous, ameliorate, liminal.
posted by theseldomseenkid at 12:05 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

More seriously, but also about butts, my kids have been channeling Sir Mix-a-lot all weekend. They have been running around the house chanting "Oh my God, look at her butt!" Endlessly. I'm not sure if they heard the song or just came up with the phrase on their own, but it is killing me.

OK, my real favorite words are "supposably", "irregardless" and "conversate". Oh who am I kidding, I am not a monster.

And since I just made this about words that I hate, can I add that I lose sleep at night sending bad wishes at people who use "gift" as a verb? Yes, I know that everyone uses gift as a verb, that's why it takes me all night to get through my ill wishing.

Upon further thought, I can't really think of any words I really like, but there are tons of words that send me into a rage spiral. I need to do some relaxation exercises now, be back later.
posted by Literaryhero at 12:08 AM on July 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

Französisch, which is the German word for French. There's something so pleasing about pronouncing all those s-sounds, although I'm sure I joyfully exaggerate the pronounciation.
posted by rawrberry at 12:14 AM on July 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

"needed" - because it is the most satisfying word to write with a pen. Seven loops, no breaks.
posted by Paragon at 12:15 AM on July 30, 2017 [7 favorites]

deprecate and the name Snorri
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:06 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Somewhere I read that defenestrate is the favorite word of people who say they have a Favorite Word. I associate it with a childhood or teenage discovery of the pleasure of big words.

Some people like knick-knacks, some like tchotchkes, but I prefer whickety-whack.

My family always said smichiks for those things, but I have no idea of its etymology.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 1:27 AM on July 30, 2017

I really like twelfty (which I learned from jessamyn on MeFi Podcast episode 120). It has a fascinating history: it means 120, and centuries ago, a "hundred" used to mean 120 for six score, until five score (100) became the new "hundred" around the 14th century and 120 became the "long hundred." Plus, to me "twelfty" sounds like the name of a Smurf or other character (maybe because it has the word "elf" and contains an anagram of lefty?).

Other favorite words I can think of at the moment: sprocket because it sounds fun to say, the shape is cool, and it's an important element in mechanics. Mondegreen because of its definition and rather recent history as a coined word by Sylvia Wright. Plus it sounds nice and looks like it could have been a word with French etymology.

This topic is now making me think of not-so-favorite words, and a classic scene from "The Golden Girls" where Rose sets Dorothy's lyrics to music ("Miami is nice, so I'll say it twice..."), and Dorothy protests an extra repeat of a line. Then:

Rose: Well what about this: "Miami is nice, so I'll say it thrice"?
Dorothy: "Thrice." Who the hell says "thrice"?
Rose: It's a word!
Dorothy: So is "intrauterine" -- it does not belong in a song!

Here's the bit on youtube at 1 min 37s. (Video quality isn't the best, but it's still so much better to see Bea Arthur and Betty White performing the whole thing.)
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 1:41 AM on July 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

Blennophobia - a strong fear of slime. (blenno is greek for mucus)

Eellogofusciouhipoppokunurious - good.

Hesternopothia - nostalgic yearning.

Scoteography - writing without seeing what you are writing, such as in the dark or at night without light.

Whithersoever - to anywhere at all.

+ + + + +

One continues to traverse the landscape of rural England, searching for a purpose under a deepening summer sky. The blackberries offer free and healthy snacks; the cows offer free practice at sprinting across fields. The footpaths remain deserted, though the rural lanes are often busy with traffic; the risk of being run over, even by a work colleague, remains ever-present.

The aforementioned owl theft remains unresolved after several weeks. A few MeFites were concerned that this is a real owl and it may have met a delicio ... unfortunate end. Fear not! It's a quite spectacular and likeable owl sorry this owl not that one or previously and deeply annoying.

As police investigations continue to draw a blank, I saw one of the local well-connected farmers in the village pub and had a brief chat with him. A very rough transcript - due to the memory-warping effects of whatever I drunk - follows; you may need to parse this through Google translate or similar.

Me: Wha' thee drinkin'?
Him: {examines label on pump} A pint o' Olde Bishop's Sweaty Balls.
Me: Good?
Him: Arr. Local. Tastes of mud and death. Makes thee hairs down below stand on end. Better tha' fizzy lager city folk drink.
Me: {nods}
Him: {sticks finger in Sweaty Balls, wiggles it while staring at glass} Good with pigeon pie. Dog like it too. Makes turds fly out o' him at speed, tho'. Has to put dog in kennel outside. Wife goes mad when they hits wallpaper.
Me: {feels I need to get this on topic, rather than consider canine fecal incidents} Oi 'ear yow missing an owl.
Him: Arr.
Me: 'Oo nicked it?
Him: Oy dunno.
Me: 'Oo dja think?
Him: {long pause} Outsoiders. City folk. {looks at me suspiciously} Is yow from city? Ain't seen yow 'round these parts.
Me: Noi. Vale of Evesham. Orchard farmer by upbringing. Bred ferrets too.
Him: Wha' yow do nowadays?
Me: {decides not to say I spend quite a lot of time on an Internet site filled with fellow liberals, as that's pretty much the worst thing to say around here} Oi moves food around.
Him: {nods} Yow ever fire gun?
Me: Eighth birthday present. Recoil laid me flat out to start. Earned pocket money from farm pest patrol arfter.
Him: {nods appreciatively}
Me: {feels I have passed the local rural credibility test} Any leads?
Him: Wha'?
Me: Owl. Tha' stolen owl.
Him: Ah. Noi.
Me: It be a big bird. Can't take tha' on bus. Needs van. Or tractor trailer. Who'd be brass enough to take it?
Him: Arr. {nods} Bloody big bird. Yow could feed half of village off it at Christmas, if it be real. Except the Rodgers down lower farm. Bloody gannets.
Barman: {listening in, chuckles}
Me: Antique dealers?
Him: Noi; they just let tractors rust outside. Waste. Good for nothing...
Me: {interrupts} Noi. Them there owl thieves. Be they antique dealers?
Him: Eh? Oh! Arr. Probably. {disgusted look} From city. Nowt good comes from city. Wife comes from same village. Same surname. Same nose, even.
Me: {remembers the thing about rural family trees looking more like graphs or networks, and decides not to ponder this}
Him: {proud} She can hammer tractor down 1 in 4 hill without rollin'. City folk noi do tha', with their electricity cars and their man bag purses {disgusted} and
Me: {interrupts} Owl!
Him: Arr, owl.
Me: Has thee t'ought on outside help?
Him: Noi. Like wha'?
Me: Private detectives. {leans in, conspirator-like whisper} Private rural librarian detectives.
Him: {surprised} Book people?
Me: Arr. Them. The Book people.
Him: {considers} Could do worse. My youngest collects them books. Always got head in one. He's got {counts on fingers several times} five now. He be professor one day.

At that point we were interrupted by a stranger trying to hurriedly sell a goose to anyone in the pub - only to be forcefully ejected by the barman ("Don't want no police trouble 'ere") - and we didn't get back to the conversation. I finished my pint of Farmer Giles's Peculiar Smegma or whatever the heck the beer I was drinking was named, and departed.

More owl news as I get it.
posted by Wordshore at 2:03 AM on July 30, 2017 [24 favorites]

> Oh, also, can anyone confirm the pronunciation of greeble?

Rhomboid, the wikipedia talk page for "greeble" currently has a section called "The original word is greeblie" which goes into pronuncation, with links to some example clips, including one with MeFi's Own Adam Savage. The spelling is contested but the discussion there states that prop-building folks say "gree-blee."
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 2:14 AM on July 30, 2017


posted by Splunge at 3:29 AM on July 30, 2017

Since somebody has finally mentioned it as one of their favorite words, here's "The Science Behind Why People Hate the Word Moist"

For the record, I am NOT among the moist-haters... I'm more negative toward "wetness".
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:40 AM on July 30, 2017

I've been getting into the comic series Giant Days, and one of the characters, Daisy, uses goofy made up words instead of cursing. Flimflam! Flapdoodle!
posted by janepanic at 3:57 AM on July 30, 2017

I've always liked the word "communism." Something about the hard C turning into the closed-mouth, short M. I probably start too many sentences with the word "look." But let's be real. As my mother would quickly tell you, my favorite word is "fuck."
posted by Room 641-A at 4:31 AM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]


It makes my mouth feel good.
posted by Mizu at 4:32 AM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

It was recently pointed out to me that a work-related word that I use frequently- lyophilizer- is pretty silly.
posted by kamikazegopher at 4:36 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Two of my favorites are fuck and share.

I like share because it's a really radical concept among organisms, which tend to be rather selfish by nature. I've long been fascinated by eusociality. I suspect it evolved out of maternal instincts. Some slightly different organism must have thought if sharing was good enough for her children then it was good enough for all of her kind. Sharing is to me the highest form of human expression. It's us at our best. Some of our best institutions are based on sharing like libraries, schools, marriage, and social safety nets.

I like fuck for almost the opposite reason. As a concept, it's pretty straight/gay/bi forward—it's that sex stuff—but when we use it in profanity it becomes one of the most mailable words in the language. It's so flexible that it loses it all specificity. It's such a powerful word, constantly slamming up against social conventions. It's so subversive, of course, that's a two-way street. Using it can also subvert your credibility. I also just like the sound of it. That hard K at the end. In high school, I was in a production of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys about two aging vaudevillians and in that play, Willy, one of the comedians, offers a lesson to his nephew about funny words.
Fifty-seven years in this business, you learn a few things. You know what words are funny and which words are not funny. Alka Seltzer is funny. You say "Alka Seltzer" you get a laugh . . . Words with "k" in them are funny. Casey Stengel, that's a funny name. Robert Taylor is not funny. Cupcake is funny. Tomato is not funny. Cookie is funny. Cucumber is funny. Car keys. Cleveland . . . Cleveland is funny. Maryland is not funny."
Fuck is funny. Funny as fuck. I just love saying it. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. I think I first fell in love with it while listening to George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say on Television. But his piece in Brain Droppings clinched it for me.
Perhaps one of the most interesting words in the English language today, is the word fuck. Out of all of the English words which begin with the letter f, fuck is the only word referred to as the "f" word, it's the one magical word.
Fuck, as most words in the English language is derived from German, the word "fricken", which means to strike. In English, fuck falls into many grammatical categories. As a transitive verb, for instance—John fucked Shirley.
As an intransitive verb: Shirley fucks.
It's meaning's not always sexual; it can be used as an adjective, such as John's doing all the fucking work.
As part of an adverb: Shirley talks too fucking much.
As an adverb enhancing an adjective: Shirley is fucking beautiful.
As a noun: I don't give a fuck.
As part of a word: Abso-fucking-lutely, or in-fucking-credible.
And, as almost every word in the sentence: Fuck the fuck-ing fuck-ers.
As you must realize, there aren't too many words with the versatility of fuck. As in these examples describing situations such as fraud: I got fucked at the used car lot.
Dismay: Aw fuck it.
Trouble: I guess I'm really fucked now.
Aggression: Don't fuck with me buddy.
Difficulty: I don't understand this fucking question.
Inquiry: Who the fuck was that?
Dissatisfaction: I don't like what the fuck is going on here.
Incompetence: He's a fuck-off.
Dismissal: Why don't you go outside and play hide-and-go-fuck yourself?
I'm sure you can think of many more examples. With all these multi purpose applications, how can anyone be offended when you use the word? We say, use this unique, flexible word more often in your daily speech. It will identify the quality of your character immediately. Say it loudly, and proudly!
Fuck you!
Fuck, yeah!
posted by Stanczyk at 4:48 AM on July 30, 2017 [5 favorites]

Thanks for the confirmation, rangefinder 1.4. I'm just going to have to deal with my wrongness somehow.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:09 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Shenanigans and Capers...
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:12 AM on July 30, 2017

it can be used as an adjective, such as John's doing all the fucking work.

And this really has two meanings: the negative example above and also the positive, as in, That is a great fucking list.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:12 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

A few more, these beginning with "C":

Cacidrosis - really bad smelling sweat; what my socks smell like after a long walk in the countryside. The kind of body odor smell which make an overly judgemental cat hide and refuse to emerge for three days, despite the fact that the ungrateful ball of fur will only eat expensive salmon and I'd recently paid several hundred pounds in vets bills.

Celerity - swift. (Have used this before on MetaFilter and yes it makes some MeFites grumpy but I like it so there)

Chiminage - the fee or toll one pays to be allowed to pass through a forest.

Clatfart - gossip. (I hear this one occasionally in rural situations and it is the most perfect word for what it describes)

Clinophobia - the fear of being or staying in bed.

Crwth - a Welsh musical instrument, played with a bow. Also a useful word in Scrabble when you somehow have no vowels on your rack despite only being halfway through the game and you strongly suspect that the cat has hidden them because he hates you and wants you to fail and lose at everything in life.

MetaTalk: clatfart for MeFites
posted by Wordshore at 5:50 AM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Stanczyk, one of my children is in the "let's experiment with profanity in front of a parent" phase. A few days ago, she casually told me she was off to unfuck the medicine cabinet. Which she did a nice job with, so, uh, I guess I know my word of the week...
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:54 AM on July 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

I saw a tweet in Japanese that described the following situation.

On a train in Tokyo. B is about to get off a train, drops something.

A: (Notices that B has dropped something, picks it up and calls B.) Suimasen! (Excuse me!)

B: (Turns, realizes s/he has dropped said something, thanks A.) Ah, suimasen. (Oh, thank you.)

A: (Apologizes for stopping B on s/he's way out of train.) Suimasen. (Sorry.)

B: (No, no, I appreciate it.) Suimasen. (Thank you.)

So if you ever visit Japan, the one word you should remember isn't arigato or sayonara, it's suimasen (sumimasen).
posted by misozaki at 6:26 AM on July 30, 2017 [8 favorites]

Aquarium. It's pleasant to say, nice to look at, and makes me think of a peaceful, calm place.
posted by castlebravo at 6:27 AM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by audi alteram partem at 6:58 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

rangefinder, I wouldn't have ever thought of it, but I remember learning eleventy and twelfty when I was a kid in England in the late 80s. Now I can't even find them in the online dictionary!

(Probably there was some caveat included that I just don't remember any more.)
posted by aniola at 7:03 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Penultimate, so exact and so specific.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 7:52 AM on July 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

posted by hilaryjade at 7:52 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

In English, proletarianization

Just got back from my first trip to Brazil--despite working with translation of written Portuguese for several years now I've never focused on spoken communication or bothered to learn the pronunciation rules. I was so fascinated with the particular singie-songie filter through which Brazilians (esp. in Sao Paulo state) pronounce English loan words like internet (internechie) or notebook computer (nochie bookie). I would amuse myself making up sentences of mostly loanwords, like "Vou ao McDonalds comer fast food e conectar o meu notebook à internet para ler o Facebook" (click on "listen")
posted by drlith at 8:10 AM on July 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Penultimate, so exact and so specific.

So almost the ultimate, do look up if unfamiliar, so embarrassing when used in the wrong context , plz dont ask how i know
posted by sammyo at 8:13 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Autumnal. Because it feels good to say, and it immediate invokes a perfect feeling of long yellow light and crunchy leaves.
posted by gaspode at 8:21 AM on July 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

The best word I use that most people (outside of work) don't is always aliquot. Noun and verb forms. All scientists who also cook agree: aliquot (to portion a whole into parts, usually equal sides parts, usually liquids) is a word that should be in more general use.

Also on the way up thread subject of defenestration, I had a chance to look out those windows last month and it is amazing that multiple people survived. They're situated right over a fairly steep cliff!
posted by deludingmyself at 9:43 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also drlith, I once took a Portuguese for Spanish speakers class in college (I was one of the few non-native Spanish speakers), and my classmates decided that the key to pronouncing Brazilian Portuguese correctly was imagining you were speaking to a room full of preschoolers. It's an odd thing to get used to, and I found it tough to not hear as patronizing even when I had a Brazilian coworker for a year. Reminds me a bit of how listening to people speaking Mandarin if you don't speak a tonal language can lead to confusion where you read tone as emotional content and think two people are mad at each other when they're just talking.
posted by deludingmyself at 9:49 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


also wicker
posted by poffin boffin at 10:10 AM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I like most words. Consideration, for example.

But there are usually a few I do not like. Right now, I don't like
  • reach out to -- unless you mean something more than call or contact or talk to
  • curate -- unless maybe you work at a museum
  • I mean -- used out of the blue at the start of a sentence
posted by pracowity at 10:25 AM on July 30, 2017

I mean -- used out of the blue at the start of a sentence

I never though about it, but I do this here, usually in response to another comment or article quote. I think it's because I'm usually having an internal dialogue with the comment, and it also seems like a more gentle way to ease into a rebuttal when it's hard to read the tone in a text-only conversation.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:50 AM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mulholland. I like the way the syllables feel in my mouth.

Naturally, I make it a point to visit Mulholland Drive every time I'm in the Los Angeles area. Except last time, I made the mistake of navigating us up Topanga Canyon because it was closest to where we were (the mister enjoyed the first five minutes of that because he felt like he was in a nighttime car commercial, and then it was white knuckles the rest of the way up) and then we somehow ended up way too far into the unpaved section, where three coyotes surrounded our car. The mister had to do a 507-point turn while avoiding hitting a coyote. It was a harrowing experience.
posted by Ruki at 10:58 AM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Stanczyk's reminder that "Words with 'k' in them are funny" got me thinking...

Dick Van Dyke
Rocky & Bullwinkle
George Carlin
Weird Al Yankovic
Carol Burnett filled her show with 'k' names: Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway
funniest character on Cheers? Cliff Claven (second? Frasier Crane)
funniest character on Seinfeld? Cosmo Kramer (second? Costanza!)
Of course, Stephen Colbert is the funniest host on late night TV. But Jimmy Kimmel is just trying too hard.

I recently read an article about how Star Trek has a better sense of humor than Star Wars, and realized that most of Star Wars' k-name characters are over-serious Jedi. Qui-Gon Jinn; Obi-Wan Kenobi; Luke Skywalker. Not to mention Anakin and Kylo Ren. The only halfway-fun Jedi was the no-k-name Yoda. Well, there is also Chewbacca... and Jar Jar Binks (the Jimmy Kimmel of Star Wars?). But Trek has Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Jean-Luc, Riker, Wesley Crusher, Lt. Barkley, Sisko, Kira, Dax, Quark, Kathryn Janeway, Chakotay, Tuvok, Harry Kim, Neelix, Kes... they even had k-name alien races, Vulcans and Klingons! (And it's no surprise Enterprise fell flat... almost no k-names, not even for Scott Bakula!)

and geographically, New York City has 3 funny boroughs out of 5: Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx ('x' counts!)
while Los Angeles only has Burbank... you have to go well out of town for Bakersfield and that Comedy Gold Town: Oxnard!

As for the word fuck, I have the story from way back in the 1980s when I was doing Open Mic Night at a comedy club, trying to 'find my comedy voice'. I decided to use an embarrassing story a friend had told me about his sex life, ending with his girlfriend asking him “When are you gonna learn how to fuck?” When he told me, I commented “If any woman said that to me, I’d immediately sign up for a full semester of intensive tutoring!” After I picked him up off the floor, he said “I wish I was quick-witted enough to have thought of that.” I decided right there that the story – and the comeback – would be part of my five minutes on relationships, but saying it happened to me because, frankly, anything from my own personal experience was even more embarrassing and far less funny. But when I left the stage after telling the story, the club's owner took me aside.
Club Owner: I have a little problem with the language you used in your act.
Wendell: But I’ve heard plenty of other comics say fuck.
Club Owner: Yes, but they didn’t use it as a verb.
Wendell: So I can say “Oh, fuck” or “What a fucking mess”?
Club Owner: Yeah, that’d be acceptable.
Wendell: But not “I fucked her good”?
Club Owner: Right.
Wendell: But I heard one comic say “fuck you!” Isn’t that using it as verb?
Club Owner: That’s an interjection.
Wendell: How about “I am so fucked”?
Club Owner: That’s really kind of an adjective.
Wendell: As opposed to “I got fucked”.
Club Owner: I think you’re getting it.
Wendell: But can I tell you to “Go fuck a duck”?
Club Owner: Well… uh…
Wendell: And you’re getting tired of me fucking around with you.
Club Owner: Yeah….
Wendell: I really fucked myself, didn’t I?
Club Owner: You could say that.
Wendell: But not on stage.
Club Owner: Assuming I’ll ever let you on stage again.
Wendell: You know what I think that kind of rule is?
Club Owner: Fucked?
Wendell: No, just silly.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:10 AM on July 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

y'all is the best word.

my favorite word sounds are "sc" w/ a silent c- acquiesce, coalesce.

my favorite word to write is "level", which working in a hospital I write it all the time. I like it much for the same reason as Paragon's love for needed. Level is more satisfying, in my opinion, because its a palindrome, and also in cursive it's a mirror symmetry.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:51 AM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I like celestial: simultaneously evoking Plato's ancient concept of a cosmos of vast concentric crystal spheres, medieval Christians choirs of angels, and modern application of physics to orbiting planets and moons to generate ephemeris data.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:03 PM on July 30, 2017 [5 favorites]

I have always been exceptionally fond of both "thwart" and "minion" because I love the way they sound.

I also love "aplomb."

Also, not EXACTLY an answer to the question, but I've been studying Japanese, and each of the past three weeks I have come across homophones that just delight me immensely:

The word "ginkō" in Japanese can mean bank (a place where you deposit or borrow money), but it can also mean "going to famous sightseeing spots, ruins, etc. seeking inspiration for waka or haiku; reciting or composing poetry while strolling."

"kiga" can mean daily life,
or penguin,
or "quitting one's job as a government official to return to live quietly in one's own native region."

And "kyuukon" can mean plant bulb (like a tulip bulb) or marriage proposal.

This is the sort of thing that makes me completely love studying languages.
posted by kristi at 12:36 PM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I would include most of the words mentioned in this thread in my personal favorites list. I like lots of options, especially because my "favorite" word is whichever one sounds best to me in-context at a given moment.

On the topic of substitute swear words, the one I use most often is "spoot" (and related "spooty") which I got from the "Angry Beavers" late 90's Nickelodeon cartoon. The hard consonants make them punchy and fun and reasonably satisfying.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:44 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

also wicker

I have excellent news for you!
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:04 PM on July 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

The word snickerdoodle is more fun to say than it is to eat.
posted by PearlRose at 1:33 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Penultimate, so exact and so specific.

My favorite is "antepenultimate". All the specificity, plus added double-dactyl goodness!
posted by Daily Alice at 1:39 PM on July 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

In my former science life, in my former lab, the lyophilizer got called the waffle-izer. For reasons.

I like grebe (as in the bird).
I also like Cynara cardunculus (the latin name for a cardoon) because of the contrast between Cynara which sounds like a refined swan-like creature and cardunculus which sounds utterly ridiculous.

Hard to really come up with actual favorite words. I work as a gardener and was once asked in an internship application to name my favorite plant. Can't really do it. It depends on the time of year, time of day, what the plant is growing with ... so many factors. Feel a bit the same about words.

posted by sciencegeek at 1:54 PM on July 30, 2017

I like celestial: simultaneously evoking Plato's ancient concept of a cosmos of vast concentric crystal spheres, medieval Christians' choirs of angels, and modern application of physics to orbiting planets and moons to generate ephemeris data.

In the same vein as this (i.e. a word freighted with multiple connotations), I have a note scribbled down from something Margaret Atwood once wrote:
30 years ago my favorite words were Cthonic and igneous (I was in my Pre-Cambrian Shield phase). They then became Jungoid, musilagenous, and larval (biology took over). Right now they are diaphanous and lunar. The latter especially, as it combines rock and light, solidity and inaccessibility, with a suggestion of tidal and howling wolves.
For people following this thread with interest, I am 99% sure it came from this book, Favorite Words of Famous People.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:10 PM on July 30, 2017


There is something about where they accent falls that makes it satisfying and the whole word is sort of like fizzy soda.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:14 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Penultimate, so exact and so specific.

Pedantry ahoy, but penultimate at its root means "nearly last" (L. paene + ultima), although of course it is generally understood to mean "the last but one". To get the full-on effect, I prefer proxultimate, which both connotes and denotes "next to last."
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:14 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yuubinkyoku (post office in Japanese) is the first that popped into my head. I love the feel of it when I say it.

For this same reason, I have always enjoyed chikatetsu (subway/undergound in Japanese).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:24 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]


Place names:
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:28 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Gift as a verb drives me up the wall. Up the wall and out the window and into a fit of self-defenestration. As a general thing I don't too much mind that sort of thing, or at worst they're a minor annoyance, but uses like "he gifted us the bicycle" makes my skin crawl. Dunno why.

Re: dude, my kids know that when I'm saying, "[Name], clean up your room" they can continue to ignore me five or six times, but when we advance to "Dude. Clean up your room," that they'd better hop to. Frequently I just say, "Uh, dude?" in a warning and questioning tone and they immediately drop whatever they're doing. No idea why, I am not from California, although I had a roommate in college who was and who duded greatly and frequently, so maybe it's her fault.

"my favorite word sounds are "sc" w/ a silent c- acquiesce, coalesce. "


"needed" - because it is the most satisfying word to write with a pen. Seven loops, no breaks.

My real-life last name is similarly pleasing to write and honestly that's part of the reason I didn't change it when I got married. It's a big P, and then all loop letters: loop, Loop!, loop, LOOP!, LOOP!, loop, (etelle) and then you cross the T. Writing my husband's (and kids'!) last name is not nearly as fun. Or quick.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:31 PM on July 30, 2017 [6 favorites]


posted by Greg_Ace at 3:43 PM on July 30, 2017

I like lots of words, but I am genuinely fond of swear words. Fuck and shit especially. So expressive, stress-relieving, and they slightly piss off people who are just a little too something. I seldom piss people off intentionally, but when it comes to fucking swearing, I don't give a shit. I mean, I do, because I avoid swearing around people who are upset by it, but in my heart I'm saying fuck 'em.

I do especially like words for stars, planets, and evening and dawn, so dusk, twilight, half-light, daybreak, constellation, starshine. Moonshadow, as it turns out, is a real word. If you watch the Perseid meteor shower, in progress but at its best Aug. 7 - 12, the moon will be waxing and bright, and you are advised to find moonshadow - a barn or natural feature that will shade the moon's brightness so you can see more shooting stars.
posted by theora55 at 3:50 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Shepsele, which is Yiddish for little lamb. It's a term of endearment.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:59 PM on July 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

Don't know off-hand if it's my #1 favorite, but it's definitely a contender for that spot: onomatopoeia. (I'm assuming no explanation is needed.)
posted by she's not there at 4:54 PM on July 30, 2017

Greg Ace, thank you for reminding me of "spoot"! I loved but have almost forgotten about Norbert and Daggett Beaver. There was a time when I started to take on some of the intentional mispronunciations that Nick Bakay did when Norb was trying to act snooty. "An affect-ayee-sheeuunnn".

The word snickerdoodle is more fun to say than it is to eat.
"Fluffernutter" falls in the same category.

Mason Williams (who had an instrumental hit with "Classical Gas" and also wrote comedy for the Smothers Brothers) had a very short song on one of his albums titled "Onomatopoeia". The lyrics started with "Onomatopoeia, gee it's good to see 'ya" and quickly degenerated into a chant of onomatopoetic words ("Bang, Crash, Zip, Toot..."). Still, I can't hear "onomatopoeia" without thinking "gee it's good to see 'ya".
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:09 PM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

"Pixilated is an old, seldom-used Americanism dating from the middle of the 19th century and peaking (in this use) in the middle 20th century. It meant (1) crazed, bewildered, or whimsical, or (2) intoxicated.

Pixilated derives from the noun pixie, denoting the mythical, mischievous creature. One who is pixilated is under the sway of a figurative pixie or behaving in a pixielike manner."
posted by john hadron collider at 6:05 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I started to take on some of the intentional mispronunciations that Nick Bakay did when Norb was trying to act snooty.

I am in absolute agray-ment with you, cit-eye-zen!
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:20 PM on July 30, 2017

Pixilated/pixelated may be my new favorite homophone.
posted by lazuli at 6:23 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

sesquipedalian (given to or characterized by the use of long words)
posted by 4ster at 6:54 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

To me, it is the perfect word for it's meaning and the spelling and pronunciation are pleasing. I also like "aesthetic" for the same reasons.
posted by dogmom at 7:24 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am a huge fan of the word "suboptimal" because it can be used to understate the severity of one's disappointment in a corporate pseudo-clinical way.


(Spends all day making a beautiful cake for grumpybearbride, only to trip and have it land face-down in the cat litter. Looks up at grumpbearbride.)

"That... was suboptimal."
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:35 PM on July 30, 2017 [6 favorites]


As in, "After an existence of nearly twenty years of almost innocuous desuetude, these laws are brought forth." -- Grover Cleveland, 1886

However, due to the solar eclipse that is about to sweep the north American continent from coast-to-coast, the word of the year must be "syzygy", for without it, there should be no eclipse.
posted by Herodios at 8:46 PM on July 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sidereal. I like how it sounds, which isn't how you might think it sounds, but much nicer, and I like the meaning as well. Of the stars!
posted by gingerbeer at 9:11 PM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

punc·til·i·ous. For verve and description.

"Praxis" for utility and showing off.
posted by clavdivs at 9:17 PM on July 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

I have a lot of favorite words, and "furtive" is the one that came to mind just now.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:28 PM on July 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Last week a colleague from France, whose academic English is excellent but who is still getting the hang of colloquial language, remarked that he's been learning a lot about common English usage from me.

And then he launched into a pitch-perfect imitation of me, in its entirety: "Cool cool. Awesome! (pause pause pause) motherFUCKER!"

So I'd hazard a guess that my favourite word is, at any given moment, one of those three.
posted by btfreek at 11:57 PM on July 30, 2017 [4 favorites]


I'll let William H. Gass make my case. He's a far more articulate advocate:
The anonymity of ‘and,’ its very invisibility, recommends the word to the student of language, for when we really look at it, study it, listen to it, ‘and’ no longer appears to be ‘and’ at all, because ‘and’ is, as we said, invisible, one of the threads that holds our clothes together: what business has it being a pants leg or the frilly panel of a blouse? The unwatched word is meaningless — a noise in the nose — it falls on the page as it pleases, while the writer is worrying about nouns and verbs, welfare checks or a love affair; whereas the watched word has many meanings, some of them profound; it has a wide range of functions, some of them essential; it has many lessons to teach us about language, some of them surprising; and it has metaphysical significance of an even salutary sort.


Although the sound “and” and the word ‘and’ may appear and reappear in sentence after sentence, both in spoken and in written form, there is no single meaning (AND) which remains tethered to the token. The word is, perhaps, no sneakier than most words, but it is sneaky enough, hiding itself inside other sounds, pulling syllables up over its head. It is, of course, the principal element in ‘randy,’ ‘saraband,’ and ‘island,’ a not inconsiderable segment of ‘Andorra,’ ‘Anderson,’ ‘antediluvian,’ ‘Spandau,’ and ‘ampersand,’ whose elegantly twisted symbol [&] (the so-called short or alphabetical ‘and’ made by intertwining the ‘e’ and ‘t’ of ‘et’) also contains it. ‘Ampersand’ has been reported to be a slovenly corruption of ‘and per se and,’ which would suggest, when the symbol is used, that it wishes to upset any implied balance or equality in favor of the leadoff term: Dombey and Son would mean “Dombey and equally his son,” while Dombey & Son would mean “Dombey in himself and, in addition, his son.” ‘And’ also lurks about in words like ‘spanned,’ and in apparently innocent commands like ‘please put the pan down, Anne,’ as well as in many allegations or simple statements of fact, for instance, that ‘panders and pimps and pushers, panhandlers and prostitutes stand like so many lamps on the streetcorners.’


‘And’ if we were suddenly to speak of the “andness” of things, we would be rather readily understood to refer to that aspect of life which consists of just one damned ‘and’ after another. ‘And’ is a truly desperate part of speech because it separates and joins at the same time. It equalizes. Neither ham nor eggs are more or less. In a phrase like “donkeys and dragons” the donkey brings the dragon down, while in the combination “sweet cream and a kiss” the thick milk begins to resemble champagne.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:01 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

(although I'll always have a soft spot for fuck used as an intransitive verb. I will never forget the 12 year old kid from Incheon who, one day, mixed his "sucks" with his "fuck" and said: "Sorry, my essay fucks!")

he ended up at Cambridge, so things worked out
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:04 AM on July 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Because I am back in the Hamilton black hole at the moment, I have become quite fond of the word 'protean' (as in the short tempered protean creator of the coast guard).
posted by halcyonday at 2:41 AM on July 31, 2017 [2 favorites]

Schmuck. You get both the explosiveness and raw filth factor of the word fuck, plus a little New York Jew attitude on top. "He's a schmuck" feels so much edgier than "He's a fuckhead".

Of course, if you say "He's a fucking schmuck", you sound like you grew up in an Italian/Jewish neighborhood in Queens or Brooklyn or Jersey, and/or that you are possibly the newly appointed . . . oh, wait, no politics allowed.
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:14 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]


My favorite word in a particular time of my life was when my kids were saying "Mama." I miss that.
posted by cooker girl at 5:58 AM on July 31, 2017

My favorite Mandarin word is shufu , which means comfortable. Uncomfortable is 'bu shufu' , which is also fun to say.

I think autumnal is my favorite English word. Or salacious.
posted by Fig at 6:16 AM on July 31, 2017

My absolute favorite word is "Картоплекопалька" or potato digger in Ukrainian. it's said roughly "kharto-pleko-palka" which just has just a hilariously happy ring to it.

A close runner up is the German "Staubsauger" (shtaub-zauger) for vacuum cleaner.

I don't have a favorite English word, but I do enjoy the word "succulent" and I love using it to skeeve out my SO who hates it.
posted by larthegreat at 6:40 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

And . . .

Means 'start singing now.'
posted by Herodios at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

The German word for squirrel (das Eichhörnchen) took me months to learn to pronounce, and I am proud of it now.

"Trash receptacle" is fun to say, as is "Darwinian."
posted by coppermoss at 7:16 AM on July 31, 2017

"Cinderella . . . Cin-der-el-la. Such a beautiful word, I like it very much. There are other words I like very much, like windowsill and elbow. Eeell-bowww. And I like Apple Dumpling too. Apple dumpling, it's a comical word. Apple Dumpling. Pickle Relish! That has a nice snap to it! What happened to your hair?"
-- Mrs. Toquet (The Glass Slipper)
posted by Herodios at 7:45 AM on July 31, 2017

posted by DreamerFi at 8:35 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

In my high school French class, the teacher once told us that French speakers' favorite word/phrase was "cellar door". And I have to say, it does sound cooler when you imagine a French person saying it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:36 AM on July 31, 2017

The whole "cellar door" thing is kind of ridiculous, in the sense that it's not worth much more than a momentary "huh, that does sound kind of nice" and yet people keep going on about it. There's a good discussion (by Grant Barrett) here and a much longer one (following up on Barrett's) by Geoff Nunberg at Language Log.
posted by languagehat at 9:01 AM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm not surprised, honestly, but I do still like the way it sounds in my head.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:11 AM on July 31, 2017

Oh, me too! And I remember the first time I read about it (probably in high school), I was all excited and ran around telling people about it. Like I say, it's the (relatively) huge cultural footprint that seems odd to me, not any individual person liking it.
posted by languagehat at 11:13 AM on July 31, 2017

I heard that the Esquimaux have over 100 different words for "cellar door".
posted by Herodios at 3:27 PM on July 31, 2017 [5 favorites]

I like these words best:

posted by Kafkaesque at 5:20 PM on July 31, 2017

Literaryhero,the movie Sing has a pack of hippo valley girls auditioning with a presumably clean version of Anaconda (all we hear is that line).

My mother used greebles wrt tiny pieces of dirt/garbage (her mother was born in Ukraine) and another ashkenazic Jewish woman of her generation(late 30s/early 40s) I know is familiar with it too. Google translate turns up грязь
as the translation for dirt.
posted by brujita at 8:36 PM on July 31, 2017

"Trash receptacle" is fun to say,

Not as lovely as the French translation of the term: poubelle.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:12 PM on July 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

Okay it's two words but the dialect where I grew up, which I still use randomly (and not always realising), contains:

"Werst bin?"

... which is a shortened version of "Where have you been?". I always prefer the former. When very young, I continually got into trouble and punished for not using the longer, so-called proper, version when we had an evil head teacher who was posh and came from a distant county. Anyway, after one punishment too often for saying Werst bin? and similar I set fire to the school (there was no-one in it and as it had a thatch roof it wasn't hard to do) and that was the first of several schools I was expelled from.

So I still use Werst bin? as I like it, and it's part of my identity.
posted by Wordshore at 7:09 AM on August 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm actually pretty fond of "cuck." It tells you so quickly and so succinctly that you don't need to bother with the person using it; it's a real time-saver. I also just can't get over what an own goal it is. Amuses me every time.

I think my favorite word though is:


This is the Montana Salish word for a wood tick. You can hear it here in an elicitation session from the UCLA phonetics archive (as a part of a larger list, it's at about 45s).

When I was interviewing for graduate school, I told one of the professors that this was my favorite word but that I couldn't pronounce it because I couldn't do ejectives yet. It turns out it was also one of her husband's favorite words. She said, "I can teach you how to do ejectives in five minutes." And she tried--but whether because I just wasn't very good at it, or because I was nervous because GRAD SCHOOL INTERVIEW, I couldn't do it.

That night, though, it clicked. I could do ejectives! And then I got into the program! Yeah!
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:16 AM on August 1, 2017 [7 favorites]

I have no further owl news - sorry.

However, I was in the pub last night, and there was a marrow (or giant zucchini) on one of the tables. Here is a photograph.

I have no idea why there was a marrow on the table. Everyone else seemed to be ignoring it.

At some point later in the evening, it disappeared. I'm none the wiser.
posted by Wordshore at 11:40 AM on August 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have no idea why there was a marrow on the table.

I'll tell you later.
posted by Herodios at 11:58 AM on August 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

At some point later in the evening, it disappeared

Probably because it was freaking out the resident cat(s)/dog(s).
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:03 PM on August 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

MetaFilter: I have no further owl news - sorry.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:37 PM on August 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

kerfluffle, which is when two Goldendoodles are playing.
posted by Namlit at 12:50 PM on August 1, 2017

After making enquiries, it turned out that the marrow was used to reserve and hold a table in case the pub became busy.

Case closed.
posted by Wordshore at 10:25 AM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Was it being reserved for the missing owl?
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:50 AM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Anyway, after one punishment too often for saying Werst bin? and similar I set fire to the school

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:52 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

So many beautiful words here, I love it!

diaphanous was the first one that popped to mind, and then numinous (the mouthfeel is fantastic.) I have a soft spot for antebellum and interregnum too. The Japanese natsukashii makes me, well, nostalgic. French has vachement and se défenestrer (possibly the best reflexive verb ever.)
posted by invokeuse at 9:25 PM on August 3, 2017

Oh, and I'd be amiss to neglect my favourite science-y words: triturate, frigorific, and eutectic.
posted by invokeuse at 9:27 PM on August 3, 2017

posted by Greg_Ace at 10:03 PM on August 3, 2017

In further wanderings this last week, cattle and cows have featured all too prominently. If I disappear off MetaFilter without warning, you can probably assume that I have finally failed to outrun one or more of them. Bill Bryson wrote about this in one of his books on rural England, the high number of people who do not survive encounters with these farm animals out in the countryside. He had a point.

Such encounters included (as previously) a nice pair out towards Belton, some towards Melton Mowbray, and annoyingly a whole field of them where the old - orginal - Fosse Way is i.e. part of the Roman Road that hasn't been overlaid with a dual carriageway.

There were others, but when you have 1,000+ pounds of beef running towards you, then it's unwise to stand there trying to remember photography classes and how best to frame or compose the picture. You run for the nearest stile or gate.

In more relaxing encounters I visited a horse-friendly pub and contemplated their menu, found a nice cricket club I'll return to, visited another pub and ate some giant chorizo sausage rolls, did not take free art, encountered some deer sitting down, and some more on a hill, visited another pub which is why I'm slightly the worst for alcohol while typing this, and walked and walked and walked...

Also, as Christmas is rapidly approaching, I checked out the local tree situation. Status: growing.

Another word: gruntled. The opposite of disgruntled. The rural landscape, a quirky English village fete, and MetaFilter are three things which make one gruntled. May your God, Deity or Cat bless you all.
posted by Wordshore at 3:17 PM on August 4, 2017 [2 favorites]

God, Deity or Cat

...but you repeat yourself...
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:57 PM on August 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, remembered a nice word used recently when writing about the contents of English cathedral libraries:

Rarissima: extremely rare books, manuscripts, or prints.
posted by Wordshore at 5:54 PM on August 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

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