Good words, bad words?

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:

Loathsome List:

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):

  • meat
  • loaf (or heaven forbid — meatloaf!)
  • panty
  • hose (again, help me — pantyhose!)
  • quiver
  • jelly/jellied
  • soup
  • pussy willow
  • postpartum
  • tinkle
  • puss
  • murmur
  • ventilation
  • roost
  • wafer

Lovely List:

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.):

  • passion
  • 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
  • malodorous
  • jacks
  • cacophony
  • boom! (especially chicka-chicka-boom-boom!)
  • cock-a-doodle-doo
  • toot-toot
  • love
  • meow
  • chickadee
  • pariah
  • wonderful
  • fabulous
  • particle
  • appellate
  • darling
  • every
  • puke
  • yellow
  • fierce
  • 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!)

13 thoughts on “Good words, bad words?

  1. I don’t like the word panty (or panties) either! And murmur is just gross to say. I also don’t like arctic, appendage, moot and mauve.
    I think the word patronize is fun to say. I also like the words silhouette, whiskers,and felicity.
    I know there are more words I can add to this list, but now that I am trying to think of them, I can’t. I enjoyed your post :)

  2. Tamara,

    Loathsome words: moist, massage, panties (panty)
    Lovely words: joy, vapid, lovely, fabulous, extraordinary, magnanimous

    Thank you for another inspiring post. You are amazzzzzzing!

  3. There was a recent story about these kinds of words, and I’m pretty sure moist was on their list. Their overall winner (loser?) was slacks.

  4. I love that puke and malodorous are on your lovely list ;). The only word I can think of right now that is so lovely to me is onomatopoeia. But I must say that I strongly dislike the word hate for both it’s sound and meaning.

  5. I like the words delicious, extraneous, superfluous, courageous, tryst, perhaps, and angst, pronounced ANGst, not ahhhnkst which, in fact, I find loathsome. I also find loathsome the words fluster, seminal, renege, and sucks.

    Interesting indeed.

    • Oh, great loathsome and lovely words! I love them! Tryst is especially fabulous because it’s a triple threat word — cool sound, cool spelling, cool meaning. Thanks for the comment, Melissa.

  6. I also love the word delicious and I hate the word unguent. I like using the word tangential because it’s fun to say and makes me feel smart. I may actually use that word too much which may make me seem more pretentious than smart.

    I’m off to craft a sentence using as many of our loathsome words as possible.

    • Tangential is great because it’s a word to really chew on. I have to work for it — feeling smarter is a side benefit. :) Thanks for the comment!

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