I’ve talked about this before. Now, I believe it deserves a post of its own.
As a writer, I know why there are twenty different words to describe afraid, happy, sad, surprised, etc. After all, if there was only one word to describe a feeling or situation most books would end up sounding like a first grade reader.
Let me turn to my thesaurus…okay, here we go: characterize, define, depict, illustrate, portray, all to describe the word describe….get the picture?
After a day of writing I go back and try out my own narration. That’s the best way for me to see if the sentences flow. Sometimes, when reading out loud, I find myself ending a sentence different from what I’ve written (that’s how I know it doesn’t sound like I talk.)
Also, this process helps me catch where I have used the same word a couple of times in the same paragraph. Believe me, the way I write, that happens a lot (see paragraph above), mostly because I have to give myself permission to just write and not edit at the same time. If I did, I’d never get past the first paragraph. That’s when I use the thesaurus…such a handy tool for a writer.
But the point of this post is about words themselves. Who comes up with them? Who gave the Oxfords and Websters the thumbs up to say what becomes a word? There are some weird ones out there.
For example, the other day a friend of mine on Facebook posted this word:
Ultracrepidarianism - Luckily he was kind enough to give the meaning - the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge or competence.
He also added: “A condition I sometimes suffer from.” (which I found amusing)
Here are a few others:
Tmesis – the sole term in the English language to begin with tm – the insertion of one or more words between the words that make up a compound phrase, as in “what-so-ever” inserted in the middle of “whatever.” (I thought it was a dash…)
Deipnosophist – a person skilled in the art of dining and dinner-table conversation (a host?)
Mumpsimus – a traditional custom or notion that is adhered to although it has been shown to be unreasonable (over-kill?)
Floccinaucinihilipilification – the action or habit of estimating something as worthless (a snob?)
Presenteeism – the compulsion to spend longer at work than is required or to continue working despite illness (martyr? germ-spreader?)
Spaghettification – the process by which (in some theories) an object would be stretched and ripped apart by gravitational forces on falling into a black hole (the big oops? – actually thought for sure this word would have something to do with meatsauce)
Spitchcock – an eel, split, then grilled or fried (really?)
Triskaidekaphobia – extreme superstition about the number thirteen (paranoid?)
See what I mean? Okay, I’m done, oh, except for this last one. Kerfuffle.
Have any weird words to share? I’ve got more, but I’m gonna stop.