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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Underappreciated words (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Underappreciated words
BoredCrow
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Sometimes, when I mention I'm an author, people ask me what my favorite word is... and my mind immediately goes blank. Not that I could ever choose, but there are quite a few that I love, and that I don't always remember to use.

Note: this is not the same as Thesaurus syndrome, but a thread for appreciation of cool words.

Perhaps one word per post? So that each word gets a good explanation and plenty of space. But no limit on number of posts

My first:
wroth
No, it's not a misspelling (though using it may bring up that misinterpretation). Wroth is an older word, and it's an adjective, while 'wrath' is a noun.
In this case, I almost like saying it aloud more than writing it.


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BoredCrow
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And another:
skitter
Makes me think of dark corners and restless sounds, something moving under your bed that you really, really don't want to find out about. I also love that it's almost an onomatopoeia*; it conveys a particular sound as well as a visual action.

A recent amusement I had with my in-person writers group was discussing the difference between scuttle and skitter.


*certified hardest word to spell in the English language (by me)


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aspirit
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pugnacious: (adj) quarrelsomely aggressive

I learned this word in eighth grade and haven't managed to use it for anything other than a school assignment and a recent conversation with my husband. Yet, I inexplicably want to hop with glee every time I see it in a published piece.


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Robert Nowall
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I always get a chuckle out of "meretricious." Comes from Asimov's use of it in his memoirs:

Editor: This story is meretricious!

Asimov: What was that word you used?

Editor: Meretricious!

Asimov: Oh...and a happy New Year to you!


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KayTi
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My husband teases me to this day about my use of the word surreal

He contends that the word weird would suffice, but he's so wrong. Surreal transcends reality - in one direction or another. It's super-real, or sub-real, it's beyond real. Not simply weird, which is real but strange.

Now I have to say I don't use it in writing all that much, but I do prefer it for describing things that are really truly surreal.


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MrsBrown
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It was such a relief to find out that said is okay to use over and over again, because it is almost invisible. I don't have to (and shouldn't) come up with more colorful alternatives throughout my dialogue.
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annepin
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I have a continuing obsession with the words succor and baleful, the latter in the old sense of the word.
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JenniferHicks
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Mythos
I once wrote an essay in 10th grade comparing the space-travel methods used in "Dune" and "Speaker for the Dead." I used the plural form of mythos, which is mythoi, and my teacher said he gave me an A just for that.

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Collin
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I flipped open an unabridged dictionary the other day and stumbled upon the word, yes one word,

pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis: a disease of the lungs caused by the breathing of extremely fine siliceous dust particles.

And even though not one opportunity to actually use it in a sentence has presented itself, I have to say this is by far the coolest word I've ever seen.


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posulliv
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As a child I delighted in the word cacogenic but I rarely used it around kids whose parents had invested in a dictionary.

[This message has been edited by posulliv (edited July 08, 2009).]


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Merlion-Emrys
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strange

People always tell me I use it to much and it doesn't tell the reader enough, but I think its a good multi-purpose, open to interpretation word.


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Zero
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Underappreciated
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dee_boncci
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Pensive is always one I liked, although I haven't used it much in fiction. Visceral, too.
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rich
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I kind of like the made up words. I'm particularly fond of Tyson's mangling of "ludicrous". He says, "ludacrisp". I use that one whenever I get the chance. The thing is, I think it's better than the original.
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Natej11
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TITMOUSE!
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BoredCrow
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True story: I almost did my Masters on behavior of Parids (aka chickadees and titmice). Though it didn't guide my final decision, I did stop and think about the really annoying jokes that would come from having to say I studied titmice...

(And the tufted titmouse is one of my favorite birds. When they're cranky, they sound like angry dinosaurs).

And "ludacrisp" sounds like some sort of weird dessert. Like a crisp with spam and coconut, or something.


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keithjgrant
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quote:
And "ludacrisp" sounds like some sort of weird dessert. Like a crisp with spam and coconut, or something.

Hmmm... makes me think of lutefisk. Not a good thing.


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InarticulateBabbler
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Exacerbate, recalcitrant, ambiguous, derisive, and maelstrom are but a few that top my list.

I'm also fond of psychotic, amnesia and thrust.

[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited July 08, 2009).]


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JohnMac
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Whiskey is underutilized when writing - oh wait that's not my word that's my drink....

ICHORS - blood and guts basically.


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Robert Nowall
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There are occasional brand names I like. I'm fond of "Sensens." You don't see 'em anymore, but I like the name, and its XYZXYZX spelling, like "entente" or "alfalfa"...

[edited 'cause I misspelled "fond"]

[This message has been edited by Robert Nowall (edited July 09, 2009).]


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Natej11
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tartar, which is ratrat backwards.

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MartinV
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Possess

I use it a lot to avoid verbs like 'have' or 'own'.


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Merlion-Emrys
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eldritch


Works very nicely in place of more common words like weird, strange, alien etc.


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mikemunsil
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pissant
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bemused
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Awful has become a petty word.

It has been overused to describe things that are merely bad or displeasing. But think about it, this word is Awe-Full. Exceedingly great or Inspiring awe, but often with a negative bent. This world is more suitable for Cthulhu than a poorly cooked meal.

I have similar feelings about the word awesome, another great word that has been diminished by overuse... sadness.


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Ferris
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Since Rich opened up the door to words not strictly in Webster's, I use the following word all the time:

Anticipointment- Building an event (or product) up in your mind through anticipation to the point that when you actually experience it you are disappointed. In other words, something was not as good as you thought it would be.

For example, "I wanted to see that movie SO bad, but when it was over, I was filled with anticipointment."


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Robert Nowall
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I like following a word as it's introduced---a relatively rare thing, 'cause you have to catch it the first time, then watch it evolve.

On an early episode of "The Simpsons," in a Scrabble game, Bart introduced the word "kwijibo." At the time, it was defined as a "fat, balding, American ape." And there the matter hung...

Now, a few years ago, Nickelodeon was running a promo with some skateboard artists (I think). One of them talked of and named the moves he made...one of which was called "kwijibo."

So the word was out, and the word was used...maybe the meaning changed, but the word was the same...


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ScardeyDog
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"Loquacious" and "Plethora" are two words my husband tries to work into conversation as much as possible.
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shimiqua
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Wow, your husband sounds louquacious.

gouge

~Sheena


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skadder
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quote:
Exacerbate, recalcitrant, ambiguous, derisive, and maelstrom are but a few that top my list.

I'm also fond of psychotic, amnesia and thrust.


That sounds like a night out, too much beer, an argument, followed by an infidelity.


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Betsy Hammer
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through

Useful, balanced-looking, and constantly under attack. First graders have better spelling skills I do, but even I know that thru isn't cute, it's murder.


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Natej11
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Then you'd probably hate the EZ Mealz in 'n out drive thru.

On the subject of how America is always trying to shorten words and phrases to save a few precious moments to get in more IMs, I give you my favorite word of all time: LOL.

I think this acronym should be implemented into all types of verbal communication, based on the fact that said out loud it resembles laughter (making it vaguely onomotopoeic), as well as just being an all around fun word.


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BoredCrow
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Nate - if you think Americans are bad at shortening words, go visit Australia. They shorten everything. It was quite fun to get into the lingo during my semester abroad there, even if I never learned to imitate the accent properly.
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Unwritten
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I just won a scrabble game with the word "fop." No one I was playing with had ever heard of it, and we had to resort to the dictionary to prove it was a word. So I'm fond of that one right now.

I love fire words, like smolder and ember and sizzle. I wish I knew a word to describe the icy sound the embers make sometimes.
Melanie


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Unwritten
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Oops. I missed the one word per post rule. Sorry about that.
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Robert Nowall
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I like words that end in "-ough." There are so many different ways to pronounce them. You may recall a classic scene from "I Love Lucy" where Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) stumbled over that very problem.
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Unwritten
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Ha! I just barely watched that episode--after having not watched I Love Lucy for YEARS!
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Merlion-Emrys
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galavant


Not one I've used much in writing, but I speak it in sentences involving my mother quite a bit (as galavanting)


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Elan
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My kids used to be annoyed when I used any unfamiliar word in conversation with them and they didn't know what it meant. "Look it up," I would tell them. It irritated them that I wouldn't just stick to a vocabulary of simple words. Then, one day when my daughter was in high school she came home, faced me with her hands on her hips and said in a highly annoyed tone, "You know what I did today?"

I said, "No, what?"

"I used the word LUDICROUS!" she spat, then spun on her heel and stomped away.

Needless to say, I had a good chuckle over that one. It was nice to know a decent vocabulary was being absorbed by my children, regardless of desire.

Edited to add: And when she got into college, she reluctantly admitted she was glad for being exposed to a bigger vocabulary. Sweet!

[This message has been edited by Elan (edited July 11, 2009).]


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Natej11
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If you are not possessed of a superior vocabulary how will you utilize proper speech patterns when in conversations with groupthink gurus?

There's a word I hate btw: guru.


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Corky
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quote:
galavant

I always thought it was spelled "gallivant" but I guess some words are allowed to have alternate spellings.


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Merlion-Emrys
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You might very well be right, it may be gallivant.
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Owasm
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Myriad is one of many words I like to use. Plethora is one mentioned about that I use as well.

Although I find the three most magic words falling gradually into misuse are Please and Thank You.


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Meredith
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quote:
Although I find the three most magic words falling gradually into misuse are Please and Thank You.

This made me laugh. Our agility instructor commented on it in our last class when I thanked my dog for sitting (eventually) on the pause table when I told him to.

Having read through my first novel last week, I was struck by the fact that I appear to have a previously unrecognized fondness for the word despite.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited July 12, 2009).]


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Ben Trovato
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Crepuscular: Perking up at around twilight.
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Unwritten
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Eviscerate: to disembowel or deprive of vital parts


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Unwritten
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Serendipitous: discover by accident, fortuitous (another good word, by the way)

Plus, it's just so much fun to say.


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Unwritten
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scree: A slope of loose rock debris at the base of a steep incline or cliff.

Once you've survived it, you can't help bragging about it, even if no one else knows what you're talking about.


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alittleofeverything
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Do we need to stick to modern English? After taking a course on Chaucer, I'm particularly fond of "armypotent", meaning "powerful of arms", which he uses to describe Mars in the "Knight's Tale".
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AstroStewart
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I'm also a fan of good made up words. My favorite word is "complexicated."
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