favourite words

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The children's communication charity 'I CAN' is asking people to adopt words from the Collins Dictionary to raise funds to help kids with reading issues. I bought 'Linoleum' for 20 but only after I had written a TOP TEN list of wonderful words that delight and amuse.

(Scroll to the bottom to see contributions by readers.)

Here are mine:

1:  Linoleum   Eco-Friendly floor covering made of linseed oil and burlap. A word that sort of rolls over and in on itself.

2:  Zephyr   A light breeze, and coincidently, also the name of Babar's pet monkey.

3:  Fandango  A dance, and also a colour. A word that just itches cheekiness. Never to be taken seriously.

4:  Loofah  A sea-animal that migrates to bathrooms. Just funny; I don't know why. It also seems as though there should be more to the word, but someone couldn't be bothered to finish it.

5:  Boob  For any meaning, a straight-talking sound that is quick, easy and dazzlingly effective.

6:  Loquacious   The toffee of the word world - you have to roll it around the mouth before using.

7:  Riffraff   Richard Branson wanted to call 'standard' class this on Virgin Atlantic, to match the 'Upper Class' title of First Class. Would have been wonderful: "Oh, we're flying Riffraff to the summer sales in New York, dontcha know.." such elegance, and understated glamour. Sadly, he was talked out of it. Boo.

8:  Scooter  It kind of zips off the tongue, doesn't it? And for a two syllable word, actually pretty quick, which makes it onomatopoeic in function, rather than sound.

9:  Syllabub  An odd pudding that I've had perhaps twice, and also the name of a princess in a Monty Python sketch.

10:  Breath  The best onomatopoeic word of them all. It sounds what it is and feels like what it is, too.

11:   Oolitic  A sort of limestone whose precise form and function is lost to memory, along with Oxbow lakes and pingoos. This is a word which starts off with huge promise, but then fails to deliver - and I like a word with a sense of humour.

That was eleven, actually, wasn't it? I couldn't think which one I could leave out.

++ Added by Big Dave on 10th March 2009: Egregious. He says: "..it sounds like it is - an oily piece of badness that crawls out of the Grimpen Mire. To be outstandingly bad in any company..."

++ Added by Jennifer Leight on the 5th March 2009:
Ubiquitous - omnipresent, yes, but to my native New York ears, it sounds like good old fashioned street slang.
Cacophony - aural discordance, or the sound a startled chicken might make.
Quixotic - impulsive or rash, and oddly the hiccuping sound the drunk acting as such makes.

++Added by Maureen Tinney on March 4th 2009: "...I thought you might be interested in adding the word Licentious. It roughly means lewd and lawless, but I feel it warrants addition to the list because it rolls of the tongue easily and because it sounds deliciously, well, licentious. ..."

++ Added by Big Dave on 24th Feb, 2009: Erinaceous. He says: "it's warm and rolled up and cuddly.... then you find out it's a top shelf magazine title for Miss Tiggy Winkle fans.." (NB Erinaceous: Of the hedgehog family.)

++ Added by Adam Rivers on 24th Feb 2009: "..I feel I must draw your attention to the word Opsablepsia, which is the inability to look someone in the eye, because if you didn't know it already, I'm sure you will enjoy it. I love it not only for its fabulous utility, it really proves there is a word for everything!, but it also sounds like the way it feels when you think you have something in your eye, but don't. (If that makes sense? Abstract I know, but it's the same principle as cranberry juice tasting like pain, and corned beef tasting like headaches.) It also sounds like a form of address for a very short Pope, 'Yes, yes, indeed, your Opsablepsiance'..."

Page written: Feb 23rd 2009