Monday, November 25, 2013

Some favorite words

Do you have favorite words in English? I do. Here are a few.

Robust. The word robust makes everything better - and more descriptive. Just this morning as I was revising my thesis, I changed out "good representative sample" for "robust representative sample." See?

Disingenuous. This basically means "insincere," but with more...panache. It makes you sound more intelligent when you criticize someone for trying to sound more intelligent.

Penultimate. How can all that meaning - "last but one in a series of things" - be wrapped up in one word? Another favorite is Roy Blount Jr.'s made-up portmanteau of antepenultimatum: "It's when, for instance, you're absorbed in something outdoors, and you hear your mother calling, 'For the last time, come in for supper,' and you know from the tone of her voice that you really will absolutely have to come in, not this time, and not the next time she calls you, but the time after that."

Accoutrements. It means "stuff."

15 comments:

Liz Johnson said...

I loved "abashed" in all of its forms. Unabashed, unabashedly, etc. Such a fun word.

Whenever I read the word "robust," I equate it with "bust," as in "bosom." Like "her bust was very robust." Immediately I think of a huge chest. Sorry.

I also love the word "belligerent." No idea why.

Jen said...

I LOVE the word "robust."
Also:
apropos
perfunctory
boondoggle
arcane

Bridget said...

I used to have that connotation with robust, too! But I think I've used it enough in other contexts now that I don't think of that meaning so much anymore.

Bridget said...

I love apropos! The pronunciation alone is to die for.

Andrew said...

Quick warning with robust though. Statisticians have appropriated the term for themselves, and now it means mean something specific when talking about research (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robust_statistics). Essentially, robustness means that you do special mathy things to your data to make it more accurate (adjusting the standard errors, adjusting your sample to account for sampling errors, etc.). Having a good sample is not the same as having a robust sample (unless you do the magic statistics, in which case you can have both).

But it *is* a good word…

Bridget said...

Ooh, thanks for the tip. I might be far enough removed from special mathy things, being in the humanities as I am, but I will change it if my committee gives me grief.

Jen said...

"Special mathy things" FOR THE WIN.

Andrew said...

Most social scientists don't really know how these magic robust things work, either. I guess they all just want to use "robust" in their articles.

Crys said...

So I actually love short words. Five letters or less are my favorite. I think it has to do with my love of nicknaming. Minky is my favorite word on the planet....the fabric they make baby blankets out of. Just saying it makes me happy.

Julia Taylor said...

I'm not sure if Disingenuous, as you define it is how it is used in other fields, but in the practice of law, especially in a courtroom, when used by a judge, the definition goes a lot further. If a judge says a witness or lawyer is being Disingenuous, it means that the judge does not believe the person, and believes that the person or lawyer is lying or withholding the truth deliberately, in an attempt to not answer a question, or by pretending to not understand, as part of a scheme.

I've been told that a number of lawyers have had their behavior referred to the Oregon State Bar, because the judge believed that their behavior and strategy in a particular case was Disingenuous. I haven't heard it used in any other professional situations, so this may just be a legal thing, or just an Oregon legal thing. All I can say is that I was very grateful not to be the person, or their lawyer, who was called Disingenuous 8-9 times, (in a matter of a few minutes) by that judge.

This is the Google dictionary entry -

dis·in·gen·u·ous
ˌdisinˈjenyo͞oəs/
adjective
adjective: disingenuous
1.
not candid or sincere, typically by pretending that one knows less about something than one really does.
synonyms: insincere, dishonest, untruthful, false, deceitful, duplicitous, lying, mendacious;

Julia Taylor said...

For words I love: numinous, ubiquitous, auspicious, languid, luscious, melodious and glockenspiel.

For all of them, I love the way the sound in my head, but even more I love how the sound out loud.

I started writing about all of them, and it has turned into way more than a comment. I will post it on my blog, with a link, in the next day or two.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I love the word robust but wasn't aware of its other implications.

Liz Johnson said...

Can I give a favorite word in Spanish? Because I have two.

Espinacas (spinach). It's just fun to say.
Embarazada. You think it means embarrassed, but really it means pregnant, which leads to some hilarious misunderstandings.

Carrie G said...

The word penultimate always makes me think of this Monty Python sketch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-v-f2mT94Y where the Pope and Michelangelo discuss his painting of the 'Penultimate Supper'.

Carrie G said...

Also, I like the word 'mellifluous'.

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