Words

Sharing words that sparkle, appeal, intrigue or otherwise grab me, including those in other languages. The letter quoted below sums up the exuberant love of words perfectly, as well as being a world class job application.

And adoring alliteration, new words will be added on Wednesdays… Wednesday, word day.   See you back here then.

Shim

I've made or used one of these dozens of times but never knew what it was called.  A shim is a washer or a thin strip of material used to align something, or make it fit, or reduce wear.  To shim means to use such a piece of material to fill a gap, as when you wedge a...

Disquisition

A word I have never seen used until now, which seems like a missed opportunity for dressing up your discourse in more eloquent wrapping: a long or elaborate essay or discussion on a particular subject.  By extension, disquisitively describes being in disquisition...

Hodden brown

The notes to Virginia Woolf's Orlando say 'hodden' is a coarse, woollen cloth and the word therefore came to mean a natural, rustic colour, hence 'hodden brown'. And the man whose ruff was 'a thought dirty', who was fat and shabby in his hodden clothes?  Orlando...

Mouldywarp

A curious and endearing term of Middle English origin, but now archaic or dialect only, although deserving revival.  It means a mole, as in the animal who leaves mounds upon your croquet lawn.   Also mouldwarp, or mouldiwarp. The wise and beloved creature in Kenneth...

Wicker cradle, basket pram

A bassinette (generally spelled 'bassinet') was an oblong wicker basket with a hood at one end, used as a cradle or a pram.  Virginia Woolf has them decorating a statue with out-of-control Victorian ornamentation. Crystal Palace was a real glass palace, built by the...

Bombazine

The note in Woolf's Orlando says this was a 'twilled or corded dress material made of silk and worsted; in black, it was much used to make mourning clothes.'   For me it is a word that immediately evokes the whole Victorian era and rustling, dark crinolines. Source:...

Dustsceawung

A sobering if orthographically challenging and barely pronounceable Old English word meaning 'the contemplation of dust'.  Not a question of staring at evidence of your lackadaisical house-cleaning, but rather the contemplation of the remains of the past, and the...

Pightle

An unusually spelled word with that g-h-t-l and a fine glottal stop.  Of obscure Middle English origin meaning a small field or enclosure. I wish you daisies and buttercups in your pightle.

Slummock

Glorious word this, describing a dirty, untidy or slovenly person, or behaving in a lazy, indolent or clumsy way, as in 'You've slummocked in bed for weeks'.   'Stop slummocking, will you?' Now, where did I find this word?  I'm too lazy to go and find out. May you...

Caracole

Literally, a half turn made by a horse to the left or the right, which can also be a verb, 'to caracole'.   Deriving from the 17th century French 'caracole' meaning a snail's shell or spiral.  I love this figurative use by Virginia Woolf in Orlando, and the word's...

Scrolloping

A portmanteau word created by Virginia Woolf, apparently combining 'scroll' and 'lollop' to describe heavy, florid ornament, or a rambling mode of speech, namely, 'proceeding in involutions, rambling'. 'For when he tore the parchment across, he tore, in one rending,...

Care for a corantoe?

A French dance, identical to the 'courante', with which I trust you are familiar.  The lavolta is also a dance, 'for two persons consisting a good deal in high and active bounds'. Don't attempt this at home without adult supervision. 'Orlando, it is true, was none of...

Hefted

The sheep are ‘hefted’, taught a sense of belonging to a place by their mothers when they are lambs.   They never lose the memory of that place, such as a specific hill-side.

A scrawny, buttermilk-faced young besom

A besom is a broom made of twigs tied around a stick, though in Scottish & Northern English it's also a derogatory term for a woman or girl. 'A scrawny, buttermilk-faced young besom, allus askin' questions an' pokin' tha' nose where it wasna' wanted.'  ...

Graidely or gradely

Graidely seems an alternative spelling to 'gradely' which means fine and good; promising and likely; being in good health or physically attractive; fitting and proper. "He's took a graidely fancy to thee.  He wants to see thee and he wants to see Soot an' Captain."...

Fair moithered

Bothered or bewildered.  'Moither' can also mean to ramble or speak in a confused way. 'Mother's a good-tempered woman, but she gets fair moithered.'   Source: Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden, illus. Inga Moore (London: Walker Books, 2009) (1911), p....

An abundance of afflatus

A divine creative impulse or inspiration, from Latin afflare, 'to' plus 'to blow'. Wishing you an abundance of afflatus.   Source: Adam Nicolson, Sea Room: An Island Life (London: Harper Collins, 2013 (2002)), p. 11

Daffydowndilly

Another and charming word for 'daffodils', which are also more commonly referred to as 'daffs'. "Crocuses an' snowdrops an' daffydowndillys.  Has tha' never seen them?"   Source: Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden, illus. Inga Moore (London: Walker Books,...

Bombinate

A beautiful bumble-bee buzzing about.  The dictionary insists this is a literary term for to 'buzz or hum' but such a round, friendly sound deserves more widespread use. For example, there are three trees in front of me that are full of tiny blossoms and every spring,...

Scramasax

A large knife with a single-edged blade, found among Anglo-Saxon grave goods, used for hunting and fighting. ‘I’ve heard of a Varangian grown too old to raise shield or scramasax.' Source: ‘Harald in Byzantium’, The Breaking Hour, Kevin Crossley-Holland (London:...

Jantelagen

A Swedish word used in the north of England – the unwritten rule that forbids anyone to feel or act superior to his or her neighbour.

Acuminate

A leaf tapering to a point; could we use it to encourage people to get to the point: ‘Oh for goodness sake, why can’t you just acuminate?’

Skobby

Another word for 'chaffinch', though it seems obsolete.  Not that this should prevent our reviving it, it has a charming, affectionate sound. Source: Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals, ed. and introduction by Pamela Woof (Oxford: Oxford World’s...

Need some negus?

A hot drink of port, sugar, lemon and spice, named after Colonel Francis Negus (d. 1732), who invented it, may he rest in peace.  In Dorothy Wordsworth's journal, it seems to have been used medicinally, along with broth. A delicious sounding toddy for a miserable...

Fretted

This use of 'fretted' seems to mean worn or damaged by weather, and 'teazed' is an old spelling of 'teased', here apparently meaning pulled or damaged. I know what she means about the weeds... we have bad hair days, bad garden days, glad to know that even the...

Clapping linen

This seems to mean something like smoothing out and folding linen, though it would baffle people now. 'Mary walked to Ambleside for letters, it was a wearisome walk for the snow lay deep upon the Roads & it was beginning to thaw.  I stayed at home & clapped...

Pulling apples

Wordsworth uses this term several times - apparently an obsolete term for picking or gathering apples. 'We pulled apples after dinner, a large basket full.'  Sunday 12 October 1800. Source: Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals, ed. and introduction...

Flowering and marking

Dorothy Wordsworth refers to 'flowering and marking', meaning to embroider identification signs on linen.  I recently bought some wonderful, secondhand and fine quality bedlinen, with flowers and monograms beautifully embroidered along the top edge of what appear to...

Scrimshank

A playful, crunchy sounding word. Edmund de Waal uses this to suggest all over the place, at random: ‘bricks are piled scrimshanks’.   However, the dictionary refers to a ‘scrimshank’ as one who shirks their duty, especially someone in the armed forces.

Jouncing

Jolting or bouncing, an apparently neat melding of both words. ‘Glaring at me staring at him / jouncing on her right wrist.' Source: ‘Girl with hawk’, The Breaking Hour, Kevin Crossley-Holland (London: Enitharmon Press, 2015), p. 65

Anagnorisis

Normally referring to the moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery, perhaps understanding the real situation for the first time.   I liked Nicolson’s use of it in describing Keats’ discovery of Homer: ‘Keats had read and stared in...

Clàr

Scottish Gaelic: plural clàran.  A dish, three to four feet long, 18" wide, made of deal, with straw or grass on the bottom; a communal dish from which the family ate, with the food crumbs and straw being given to the animals after. Other meanings given by Wiktionary...

Syke (or sike)

Scottish & N. English: Alternative spelling of 'sike' meaning a small stream or rill, typically one that flows through marshy ground and is often dry in summer. Source: Dorothy Wordsworth, The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals, ed. and introduction by Pamela Woof...

Annaid

Scottish: this seems to be bound up with many place names and to refer to an old church which, for one reason or another, was abandoned and subsequently replaced at a different site. Source: Adam Nicolson, Sea Room: An Island Life (London: Harper Collins, 2013...

Tacksman

Scottish: no, not the man who keeps asking you for huge chunks of your hard-earned money.  This refers to a man who holds a tack from another, a tenant.  In Scottish law, a tack is a contract by which something is let, hired or leased to another. 'Tacksman's house.'...

Machair

Machair refers to low-lying arable or grazing land formed near the coast by the deposit of sand and shell fragments by the wind, in Scotland, particularly in the Western Isles. '... the beautiful, easily worked machair of Barra itself.' Source: Adam Nicolson, Sea...

Run-rig

Scottish.  An agricultural system whereby each year narrow strips of arable land were parcelled out among the families of the community, each family receiving different lots each year, as a form of communal fairness. Source: Adam Nicolson, Sea Room: An Island Life...

Scrutator

Sounds like a cross between a dictator and a screw-ball, or worse.  In fact, a rather vividly awful sounding word for someone who scrutinizes, a scrutineer or invigilator. The dictionary says it is someone with the duty of examining or investigating, or historically...

Scripophily

The hobby of collecting old bond or share certificates. Know any scripophiles?  You could claim to be one the next time you are trying to impress someone at a party.

Lightduress (Lichtzwang)

Another hybrid word coined by the poet Paul Celan – does it refer to a light amount of duress or the duress that light brings to the eye? Source: Edmund de Waal, The White Road, p. 388

Breathturn (Atemwende)

A word coined by the poet Paul Celan.   Edmund de Waal mentions that ‘Celan cannot find words to fit together easily. German is his language, but he is Jewish and German is also the language that killed his family. So Celan brings words together into newness’.   One...

Octothorpe

Another term for the hash symbol, apparently American and dating from the 1970s.   Let’s see if this unleashes a worldwide fad for ‘octothorpe tags’.

Catspaw

Seems to be a type of wind, quite distinct from the more common term of ‘cat’s paw’ which refers to someone used to do someone else’s dirty work.   In Arthur Ransome, however, I found: ‘There was very little wind, though now and again a catspaw hurrying from the south...

Throstle

An old fashioned term for a song-thrush; a machine for continuously spinning cotton or wool. ‘No longer my sweet throstle, attending the sun’s rising.' Source: ‘Grail of ash’, The Breaking Hour, Kevin Crossley-Holland (London: Enitharmon Press, 2015), p....

Poikilometis

Nicolson refers to this word, used to describe Odysseus, and translates it as ‘dapple-skilled, with so much woven into him that he shimmers and flickers like an embroidered cloth’.  If I ever qualify as ‘dapple-skilled’, I will have a big party to celebrate. Source:...

Claggy

Sticky or otherwise inclined to form clots or clods, as in ‘claggy mud’.  A suitably cloying, clotty, cloddy word.  OED suggests it could be of Scandinavian origin, comparing it with a Danish word for ‘sticky mud’, klag.    Given all the rain we’ve had, my next...

Savssats

Savssats ‘occur most often in fjords, where a band of sea ice too wide for marine mammals to swim under on a single breath cuts them off from the open sea.  As the fjord continues to freeze over, the animals are restricted to a smaller and smaller opening in the ice...

Shoat or shote

A North American word for a young pig, especially one which is newly weaned. Source: OED and Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 152

Windrows

‘A long line of raked hay, corn sheaves, or peats laid out to dry in the wind.  In North American English: a long line of material heaped up by the wind.’ ‘Windrows of feather from molting geese.’   Source: OED and Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p....

Polynya

Polynya refers to a ‘stretch of open water surrounded by ice, especially in Arctic seas’ or ‘large areas of persistent open water that stay open all winter.’ Source: OED and Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. 213

Whiffle

‘To make a soft sound, like that of breathing or a gentle wind.  To move or cause to move lightly as if blown by a puff of air. A slight movement of air, or the sound of such a movement. Also ‘whiffle cut’, referring to the very short haircut worn by US soldiers in...

Orographic

I learned some fine landscape words from reading Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams.  Orographic means ‘relating to mountains, especially as regards their position and form.  Or, of clouds or rainfall resulting from the effects of mountains in forcing moist air to rise....

Polyskarthmos

‘Used to describe Myrine, a dancer, ‘much-skipping’ as the word means literally, even ‘very frisky’, as it is a phrase used of calves and lambs playing in the springtime grass.’  I must remember to practice ‘polyskarthmos’ daily. Source: Adam Nicolson, The Mighty...

Growan

A southern English local word for granite, also called ‘moorstone’. Source: Edmund de Waal, The White Road, p. 251

Cock-a-doodle-doo

In this year of the rooster, what better animal noise to kick off with than the Chinese version of ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’! And no, this isn’t ‘wow, wow, oh!’ It is more like waw-waw-waw.

The rustling wind

A se is a 25 stringed instrument like  a zither, so I like the doubling up of this character to create the sound of the wind rustling.

Tooting and honking

You can imagine Toad of Toad Hall charging around the streets of Shanghai giving his car horn a ‘dudu’ as he goes.

Miemie, black sheep, have you any wool?

This is an excellent sound for a sheep’s bleat. Add your own little vibrato and you too can sound like a Chinese lamb. The character is also visually clever, combining the character for 'mouth', signalling this is a sound, and the character for 'sheep'. See how...

Chinese chirps

Very close to the sound of some birds, this Chinese cheep-cheep chirpy sound. Perhaps a turtledove?

Roger

‘A Roger is the Norfolk name for a sudden squall which makes a loud hissing noise as it comes sweeping over the reeds.’ Source: Arthur Ransome, Coot Club (London: Jonathan Cape, 2009 (1934)), p. 279

Haptic

Edmund de Waal speaks of haptic knowledge, ‘the ways in which it is possible to know something complex without having the need, or the means, to articulate it in language’.   We can sometimes perform without knowing how the thing works, and a friend of mine describes...

Eskimo word – ilira

My woeful ignorance of Eskimo culture was modulated by Lopez’s writing.  A few things struck me particularly, including the astonishing geographic map-minds they have managed to cultivate in the toughest of landscapes, and an innate sense of mechanics and materials,...

Eskimo word – kappia

Another word embodying a form of fear.  Lopez observed that Eskimos have lived with more fear than we are used to, saying that ‘on a day to day basis, they have more fear’ (which is not to imply any less courage).  He also refers to someone asking a shaman about...

Eskimo word – nunatak

An originally Eskimo word now in general geological usage to describe ‘the ice-free spires of rock that pierce the Pleistocene stillness of the Greenland ice cap.’ Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p. xxiv

Eskimo word – oomingmannuna

How could I resist this word, magical in its rounded sounds, even if its meaning may not give us much pretext to use it on a daily basis: ‘where the muskoxen have their country’.  Say it three times in quick succession, whether or not there are muskoxen nearby....

Eskimo word – perlerorneq

May you be ever spared this suffocating, madness inducing winter depression.  Lopez describes the misery or insanity it can bring on, and the compassion often shown to those who succumb to it.  It seems a product of endless cold and darkness, but it has an...

Eskimo word – upirnaagiit

An Eskimo term for early Western visitors.  Understandably, as ships came in the spring the better to be able to explore and exploit to the maximum before the winter returned, the Tununirmiut Eskimos called British whalers ‘the men of springtime’. Lopez also mentions...

A quirky word for an ordinary bird

I was curious about this term and didn’t expect it to be simply the North American name for a long-tailed duck.  Something affectionate about it.   ‘The haunting sound of oldsquaw in the ice.’   Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams, p....

Rowing about on a voyage of discovery

The lovely word ‘imram’ is, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, old Irish for ‘rowing about’ or ‘voyaging’.  In its plural ‘imramha’ it refers to early Irish stories of adventurous voyages, including those of Irish saints travelling to Iceland, Greenland or...

A fother of…

Principally a measure word, in England referring to a quantity of lead, or more generally to a cart-load or a large quantity of something.  It also means to stop a leak in a ship’s hull, as in: ‘They fothered their broken hulls with wads of sail …’ Source: Barry...

A claver of birds

A Scottish or Northern English dialect word which seems to have travelled to North America.   It means to talk idly or gossip, and can also be a noun.  Lopez uses it to refer to a noise of birds – I can imagine the caw of crows.   It reminds me also of the ‘chattering...

Two ancient long-haul boats

Lopez refers to some of the ancient boats that reached the Arctic from Europe, including the Irish carraughs and Norse knarrs. A carraugh is a long, narrow, open and seaworthy boat made of a basket frame covered with oak-tanned oxhide caulked with tallow. Source:...

Berms of the road

How did this simple word elude me all these decades? It refers to a strip of land or grass, a bank, or a terrace bordering a river, canal or road.  Or an embankment, such as one built as a defence against tanks. Or a slim space between a ditch and the base of a...

Bedizen

A bedazzling word meaning to dress up or decorate gaudily: bedizened with resplendent medals.  Kenneth Grahame uses a noun: bedizenment. Source: Kenneth Grahame, The Golden Age

Drugget

Nothing to do with trafficking, drugget is a floor covering of coarse woven fabric.  Its origins lie in the 16 century French word drogue meaning ‘poor quality article’. ‘The pattern on the carpet represented bunches of flowers on a light ground, but it was carefully...

Dree

A Scottish or archaic word meaning to endure and used in the expression to ‘dree one’s weird’ – to submit to one’s destiny; the original meaning of ‘weird’ (or wyrd) was ‘fate’. Source: Kenneth Grahame, The Golden Age

Coclackia

This curious sounding (and looking) word refers to flooring made from pebbles set in mortar.   ‘An inner court. Gold loops across the sluiced coclackia.’   Source: Christopher Logue, War Music, p. 99  

Dottle

This nice glottal stop word refers to the remnant of tobacco left in a pipe after smoking.  In Christopher Logue’s War Music, it’s used metaphorically. ‘But when – as is required – we distribute, / To you the delicates, to meet the dottle of their loss’. Source:...

Dimity

A hard wearing cotton fabric woven with stripes or checks – in Gaskell it’s used to refer to a ‘dimity bed’, presumably a bed covered in this cotton. Source: Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters

Hobbledehoy

An old fashioned word that deserves a chance at revival. It means awkward or clumsy, or a youth unfortunate enough to be so. Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters refers to hobbledehoyhood, the state of being awkward or clumsy. ‘… the difficulty of finding subjects...

Narcissistick

A neologism coined to describe the widespread telescopic poles used by some people to fix their camera phones the better to take selfies. Of disreputable provenance, which is to say I am under the illusion I made it up. Hope you like it and would be happy if you...

Nesh

Came across this in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South which features a few northern words.  This dialect word means ‘weak and delicate; feeble: It was nesh to go to school in a topcoat’. Apparently related to the Dutch dialect word nes, ‘soft or foolish’. Source:...

Squab

Nice, squat, fat, short word.  A short sofa, according to Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, though the dictionary says it refers to a young unfledged pigeon, or the padded back or side of a vehicle seat; or a thick stuffed cushion, especially covering the seat of a...

Stravaig

A lovely word this, mainly Scottish or Irish, meaning to wander about aimlessly: stravaiging about the streets.   May you stravaig to your heart’s content.  An alternative spelling is ‘stravage’.

Trumpery

Decades since I saw this word, until I found it again in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters. The dictionary says it refers to attractive articles of little value or use, or to practices or beliefs that are superficially or visually appealing but have little real...

There, there, poppet

It's a long time since I have heard this charming, kindly, playful word. I've had it used towards me in affection and kindness and with sarcasm. In the first instance, in the soothing tones of a warm-hearted nurse during a medical procedure: 'It'll be over in a jiffy,...

Carronade

A short, fat cannon, named after Carron, near Falkirk in Scotland where they were first made. I came across this in reading the childhood memories of Kenneth Grahame, where the little boy is forever dreaming of naval and other triumphs that will settle scores with his...

Scrouged together

I had never heard this word before and it isn't in my dictionary, but it seems to mean crowded or scrunched together. '… a knot of kids in overalls stood scrouged together, holding the buckets of dinner they had brought to their daddies.' Source: Carson McCullers, The...

A perfect blue sky

'The sky was a fleckless blue…' - I liked this way of conveying a perfect blue sky. Source: Kenneth Grahame, Dream Days, illus. by Maxfield Parrish (Edin.: Paul Harris Publishing, 1983), p. 116

A budding thrust and foison

An archaic word for abundance or to describe a rich harvest, it also refers to physical energy, power or strength, or a plentiful supply or yield. ‘Oh, the riot, the clamour, the crowding chorus, of all silent things that spoke by scent and colour and budding thrust...

Colourful capulanas

A sarong worn mainly in Mozambique but also in other parts of Africa. They come in beautiful abstract designs and strong colours.

The clash of a stramash

A lovely sounding Scottish or northern English word for a row or an uproar. Never heard this word before, but I'll try to start using it on a regular basis. ‘Anyhow there was a shake and a roar and a general stramash, and I found myself miles away underground and...

Convex columns

A clever way to counter the optical illusion of concavity that straight-sided columns have, by making them convex.

Gamboge yellow

A gum resin produced by various East Asian trees, used as a yellow pigment and as a purgative in medicine. In Grahame's Dream Days a sister criticizes her brother's painting of trees because they're blue. He retorts that they'd have been green if she hadn't stolen his...

Chaptalization

I thought this might be something to do with church architecture, but no, it refers to a wine-making technique to improve the fermenting must by adding calcium carbonate to neutralize acid, or sugar to increase alcoholic strength.

Casuarina tree

A tree which sounds like the name of a girl, with slender, drooping twigs like horse-tails (the tree, not the girl), native to Australia and South East Asia.

Good morning aubade

  An aubade is a poem or piece of music appropriate for early morning. In summer, I am lucky enough to have this composed and performed by birds.

May you make the welkin ring!

A literary term for the sky or heaven, from Old English welcin meaning ‘cloud or sky’ and related to Dutch wolk and German Wolke. ‘To make the welkin ring’ means to make a loud sound. Source: Kenneth Grahame, Dream Days, illus. by Maxfield Parrish (Edin.: Paul Harris...

May you not thole

'Thole' is an Old English word for 'to suffer' or to endure without complaint.  It also refers to a pin, typically one of a pair, fitted to the gunwale of a rowing boat on which the oar pivots, a ‘thole pin’. ‘He knew what they had tholed, the long times and troubles...

Care for a tarn dip?

A small mountain lake, originally Middle English from old Norse: tjorn.  In Beowulf, it refers to the watery home of Grendel's mother: ‘the tarn-hag in her terrible strength’. Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf, p. 50

A wyrd fate

'Wyrd' originally referred to fate or personal destiny, and relates to the modern word ‘weird’. As a Middle English adjective it meant ‘having the power to control destiny’ and the Weird Sisters, later Shakespeare’s witches, originally referred to the Fates. Source:...

Swingeing cuts

'Swingeing cuts' usually refer to sharp budget cuts - note the 'e' making it a soft 'g' (like a 'j'), not like the hard 'g' of 'singing in the rain'. To swinge means to strike hard, or beat, and comes from Old English, swengan, ‘shake, shatter, move violently’, of...

May you never be reft

To reave is an archaic word meaning to carry out raids for plunder, or to rob somebody by force. The past tense is 'reft'. Deliver us from reavers. ‘Nobody knows / where these reavers from hell roam on their errands.’ Source: Seamus Heaney, Beowulf, p. 7...

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Dear Sir,

I like words.  I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as strait-laced, cantankerous, pectinous, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp. 

I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around. 

I have just returned and I still like words. May I have a few with you? 

Robert Pirosh

Source: Letter No. 009, quoted in Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2013), p. 36

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