Question: What do these words have in common? Loaf, Buzz, Quiver, Whisper, Boom, Jelly
Answer: You’ll find all of them on my Loathsome and Lovely Lists of Words.
The LLs feature words that make my skin crawl or my heart feel joyful just by saying or hearing them. It’s less about the meaning of the words and more about the sensation of the words as they are voiced and heard.
What’s on your Loathsome and Lovely Word Lists? These are short versions of mine:
I don’t have anything against these words, they just eeewww-me-out. For total me-incapacitation, make a sentence out of the following words and whisper them in my ear (Also, you have to do it in a creepy Dracula way):
- loaf (or heaven forbid — meatloaf!)
- hose (again, help me — pantyhose!)
- pussy willow
It’s not necessarily the meaning of these words that I love, it’s just how cool they feel to say. Beware, I may fall in love with you if you make a sentence from these words and whisper them in my ear (No Dracula impression needed this time.):
- whisper (See, how I used that word already twice in this post? Because it’s awesome!)
- words with z: buzzzz, jazzzz, zzzzebra, razz-ma-tazzzzz, zzzzipp
- boom! (especially chicka-chicka-boom-boom!)
- et cetera
Once you start sorting words into Loathsome and Lovely, it may be hard to stop. For me, once I really dig into the sensation of speaking words and listening to their sounds, I’m reminded of the incredible richness and depth of our language. I’m grateful for the ability to have language as a multi-sensory experience. The speaking, the hearing, the seeing — all so glorious and powerful — not to mention the emotions, associations, and memories that words conjure up as we conjure up words.
The more I play with words, the more I realize that it takes a concerted effort to separate the meanings of the words from their physical/aural sensations, and in many cases, it’s impossible to do so. I always love the names of the people I love, for example, and I wouldn’t give my kids the names of people I find “extra-challenging” no matter how I feel about the sounds of the letters. Amazing isn’t it, that letters arranged in a certain pattern can make us feel so intensely? Adding the actual definitions of the words back in and they can pack a wallop.
Certain words spoken by certain people can stop me in my tracks, cause my heart to gallop, steal my breath, or make me roar with laughter. Amazing to think about. Amazzzzzzzzzzing (Lovely word!)
So, what are your lovely and loathsome words? What words in what circumstances make you feel walloped?
(Please don’t include any words that would receive a R-rating or words that are potentially hurtful because then I won’t be able to approve your comment for the public, and I really really want to!)