Words entice me into books, thrill me when well spoken, and bedevil me when I’m writing. They amuse me, enrich me, anger me, and sometimes fail me. I spend part of every day entangled with words, and I couldn’t be happier.
According to family lore, a weakness for words wanders in my genes, making me susceptible to the eight parts of speech, well positioned. My grandmother, Caroline Hall, responsible for my cheekbones and weakness for ginger cookies, also led me to words with her zeal for books and a lap perfect for reading Mother West Wind “Why” Stories to a toddler.
When she was eighty-five, she showed me a small box on a shelf above her sink that held 365 vocabulary cards. The word of the day was insouciance; she was to learn it and use it several times in conversation. She studied the card for a minute or so, and then told me my dishwashing was too insouciant.
I realized the extent of my obsession with words when I met a girl in college I liked for her lively eyes, tinkling laugh, and tongue-tickling name: Roxie Throckmorton. Try saying that name aloud two or three times. Please do.
Wasn’t that fun?
Roxie’s name filled my mouth and gave a dramatic lilt to my voice, so I said it every chance I had. The poor girl must have tired of my fixation; before long, every time I saw her, she was vanishing around a corner.
Other words ricochet and resound in my mouth as well. Serendipitous is a long time favorite; my flowers gave me coreopsis; and a fellow blogger introduced me to susurrus.
I admire words that echo the sound they represent — whisper, quack, sizzle — and am partial to compound words that are self-descriptive — dragonfly and raindrop.
Through no fault of their own, I find some words innately funny and amuse myself every time I write them: irk, rambunctious, chortle. I tend to overuse these words, especially my favored willy-nilly.
Some words offend me in an oh-yuck way, and I admire their ability to do so. Spew and sludge are fine examples.
Names that flow with poetic rhythm captivate me: Persephone, Schenectady, Thaddeus, Kaskaskia, Edna St. Vincent Millay.
I suppose my family had it right. I did inherit a weakness for words. They answer a need in me as demanding as my need for light.
Do you share my affection for words? Can you think of two or three you are partial to for whatever reason? If so, please leave some in a comment, no rationale required. I’d enjoy reading words that appeal to you. Who knows, I might discover another as amusing as willy-nilly.