Favorite Words


I read an article in the New Yorker recently about how our favorite words reflect our worldview. Not that I regularly read the New Yorker or even understand half the articles.

Tangent: Me and the wife sometimes have this fantasy about being fancy, distinguished people, having coffee and orange juice on our deck on Sunday mornings. We even have a vintage 1960s orange juice set and a coffee french-press to help make this fantasy come true. Anyway, in this fantasy, I’m also reading the New Yorker and understanding all of the articles, even those cartoon captions. Oddly, we also speak with British accents.

So as I read this article about favorite words, it got me thinking about my own favorite words. I thought it might be interesting to reflect on them, but it also might be completely stupid. But screw it, here they are.

1. technicolor
This has always been my favorite word. It’s a word that appeared often in my childhood, flashing on the screen before all of my favorite cartoons and movies. Filmed in Technicolor, which has something to do with the processing of the color cinematography. I have no idea what that means. The word means something personal to me—a certain fuzziness, a certain nostalgia, the wonder of stepping into Oz for the first time. The kids today say “feels” to describe a feeling of nostalgia. I prefer “awash in Technicolor.”

2. cynical
A word that describes my default mood. And actually, I consider myself a positive person. An optimist. But those are my programs. If I was robot and you had just switched me on, before loading my personality programs, my default would be cynical. But I don’t like this word only because it suits me — I love this word because it suits so many scenarios. I like to use the word cynical when adding a layer of darkness to some object. It’s like a comfy black t-shirt.

3. gobs
Gobs are better than handfuls, better than piles, better than tons. I love words that describe multitudes. In fact, I like the word multitude itself. Get this: would you rather have piles of money or gobs of money? Gobs just sounds like it’s dripping under its own weight. Tons is overused. Although I do like ass-tons, crap-tons, butt-tons in everyday informal speech, but if I’m writing, I always reach for gobs.

4. gingerly
I had no idea I loved this word until the wife pointed out that I use it all the time. As an adverb, it just feels peculiar. It’s a way of movement that’s gentle, specific, and maybe slightly awkward. Like the way a cat walks along the head of a couch. Unlike the dog, who just clumsily bounds up there and somehow never falls off the back. But maybe you shouldn’t let your pets climb all over the furniture.

5. crabwalk
It’s a word that instantly conjures up schoolyard play and the Exorcist. I love using it as a verb to describe movement in childhood. That scary, hyper, psycho way of moving through life when fueled up on Pop Rocks and Coca Cola.

6. gloppy
A cousin of gobs, but more puddle-ly. I really have no idea in which contexts I use gloppy, I just know that it comes to me often and I gladly receive it. Gloppy is a guilty pleasure, a penchant for candy, a sweet tooth. Gloppy is a melted lollypop left on the sidewalk in the sun. I like finding words on walks, I guess.

7. cloying
Another sweet-tooth word, one that kind of hurts. The one that FEELS LIKE CAVITIES.

8. nectar
Yet another sweet word, “a sugary fluid secreted by plants.” Which actually sounds perverse. In mythology, it was drank by the Gods. It feels kingly. Also see: a 70s prog-rock band, only spelled Nektar. It just sounds like a band name that makes you want to grow your hair long. Any word that can make you feel that way is worth keeping around.

9. crap
I love curse words in real life. I use them too liberally, like salt, and neither are good for me, but who cares when it’s delicious? In writing, I defer to crap. It’s a PG curse word. It’s not ugly, and it’s kind of funny. Crap. Crap. It’s dry and maybe cynical and maybe a leftover hangnail from my Generation X MTV teenage years. It’s all purpose. It’s duct tape. It’s a ten-cent word compared to five dollar fancy ones, and won’t earn me any style points. It’s a crappy word. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s my crappy word, and I love it. So what? I also occasionally enjoy monster truck rallies.

10. lumbering
Another word to describe movement. The cat moved gingerly. The dog was lumbering. But seriously, we really really need to try to keep the pets off the furniture.

14 thoughts on “Favorite Words

  1. That’s a really cool idea. Our favorite words really do say something about our worldview. The words we hate probably say something about us, too. The one I can’t stand is cloying. It makes me think of too much perfume, of lilies at a funeral covering up the scent of death.

  2. I’ve never really thought about my favorite words, although I’m sure I have some that I just don’t realize. I like all of the words on your list, maybe I’ll just count those as my favorites too!

  3. High marks for crabwalk. You brought back delightful/terrifying memories of my brother and i have crabwalk races in our family room. Gingerly is terrific. I will turn this into an impromptu assignment and grill my family tonight on their favorites. (I almost typed ‘faves’ but this is not a favorite word!)

  4. Cynical is only negative or dark in its current connotation. A cynic is one who continually doubts and questions, gnawing away at an issue like a dog with a bone. A cynical optimist is perfectly acceptable, and not in the least contradictory.
    One of my favourite words is gloaming, though gingerly is on the list.

  5. Just a compliment from the Managing Editor of Bedtime-Story.com to The Surfing Pizza. Insofar as creative writing goes, I think it’s fair to say that you’re one of my favorite writers, and it’s tough to get that kind of a compliment out of me. I think I’ve read everything on your site now. Your grammar totally sucks, of course, terms like “me and the wife” would typically get you a smack upside the head were I your editor, but you write with humor, sincerity, character, pathos, and a truly appealing weirdness. Kudos on your talent, my friend, and sincere condolences on the loss of your mother. Cynthia Gurin Managing Editor, Bedtime-Story.com The Number One Children’s Story Site On The Web. Since 1995

    1. Thanks? And I’m going to argue that “Me and the wife” is totally acceptable on a blog post where I admit my ninth favorite word in the entire English language is the word “crap.” ;)

  6. I like these words! Also like your comment about The New Yorker. Not too long ago I read a poem from the mag and I had no idea what I was reading. I always default to the cartoons, even if I don’t understand some!

  7. I made a list of my favorite words when I was a kid. It includes whiplash (my 1st choice), shellac, suave, flabbergasted, and phenomenon. Apparently any word I can say with a weird accent made the list.

  8. Ahhhh, this was great! I like metric-ton to describe a LOT. Also shitloads. Jauntily is pretty good, too, as well as despise, crescent, raptor, and crush.

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