Words, recently

We haven't checked in on my list of favorite words lately, which is a shame. Everyone should keep a favorite list of something. What else do people love in the world, if not random words? Flowers, I suppose. Birds. Somebody has to love the birds. You may love superheroes or hoagies, I don't care. It doesn't matter—just love something stupid and frivolous with your whole great heart. 1980s soap operas! It can be something that means something to you and you alone, or something you only share with a blog. Just fave your life away.

p.s. I got a new phone last winter / surprise surprise / and had to re-download the Merriam-Webster app, which wiped the slate clean vis-à-vis my old list of favorite words. Life careth not, nor I: there are always new words to like. Thus is the magic of renewable resources! Somebody tell Scott Pruitt.

Also props to the adjectives, clearly. Every writing lesson I've ever sat through/read/thought about has been crystal fucking clear on the directive to KILL THE ADJECTIVES ("they encourage lazy writing," eschew surplusage, etc.) but alas. Adjectives (and exclams! & parentheses!) are the lifeblood in my vampire veins. I love them the way an artist loves paint, or clay, or light. Why would you cast away a tool, when sometimes it’s the only tool you need?

In order of "Newest," as of this a.m.:

redolent. adjective :: exuding fragrance; aromatic

sacrosanct. adjective :: most sacred or holy; inviolable

replete. adjective :: fully or abundantly provided or filled; complete [NOTE: I watched Four Weddings and a Funeral last weekend, and John Hannah describes Simon Callow as "replete" in his eulogy. M-D says the word also means "fat and stout," but I like to believe he means "complete" when he uses it. There is no better description for that character, who has relatively little screentime but is rich and fully drawn.]

fungible. adjective :: being something (such as money or a commodity) of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in paying a debt or settling an account [NOTE: this feels like a needlessly complicated definition]

axiomatic. adjective :: taken for granted; self-evident

redoubtable. adjective :: formidable; worthy of respect

shipwright. noun :: a carpenter skilled in ship construction and repair

stygian. adjective :: of or relating to the river Styx; extremely dark, gloomy, or forbidding

protean. adjective :: displaying great diversity or variety

catholic. adjective :: comprehensive, universal; broad in sympathies, tastes or interests [NOTE: see Sondheim, Stephen]

spiv. noun :: a man who lives by his wits without regular employment; slacker

riffraff. noun :: disreputable persons; rabble

flinty. adjective :: stern, unyielding [NOTE: see Something's Gotta Give]

revenant. noun :: one that returns after death or a long absence [NOTE: ick, like "The Monkey's Paw"]

elide. transitive verb :: to suppress or alter something by elision; to strike out; to leave out of consideration

rum: ??? [NOTE: I have zero memory of looking up this word]

“Modern usage has loosened up”

I'll say! Grammar lessons from the Comma Queen in the Rockaways:

p.s., unrelated: The Comma Queen (Mary Norris) tells a story in her book Between You and Me about writing a letter to James Salter (my James Salter!) querying four suspicious comma instances in Light Years (my Light Years!), to which he responded:

"I sometimes ignore the rules about commas although generally I follow convention and adhere to the advice in Strunk and White. Punctuation is for clarity and also emphasis, but I also feel that, if the writing warrants it, punctuation can contribute to the music and rhythm of the sentences. You don't get permission for this, of course; you take the liberty."

Words, recently

I feel like we all know and have accepted by now that not only am I the kind of person who would keep the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app ($3.99) on the homescreen of her phone but would also have it stocked with a list of ~200 favorite words. I'm a lot like that bone collector in the movie The Bone Collector starring famed bone-collecting duo Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, only my cool smartphone word collection is 100% bone-free. For the time being, at least. And I've never actually seen that movie so I have zero idea who's collecting the bones or why. As with most things in life, I operate on a need-to-know basis when it comes to bone collections, and since it hasn't come up on any recent conference calls or anything, I'm a little in the dark. Also sometimes I type things just to type; I trust this is not news to you.

succor. noun :: something that you do or give to help someone who is suffering or in a difficult situation

ersatz. adjective :: copied from something else and usually not as good as the original

brio. noun :: great energy and confidence

prestidigitation. noun :: sleight of hand, legerdemain (wtf)

legerdemain. noun :: skill in using your hands to perform magic tricks

roustabout. noun :: a worker in an oil field, at a circus, etc., whose job requires strength but little skill

flinty. adjective :: not soft or gentle in manner or appearance; having a very serious quality or manner

natty. adjective :: very neat and clean

suppurate. intransitive verb :: to form or discharge pus

bosky. adjective :: having abundant trees or shrubs; of or relating to a woods

sandwich. ??? (I hope this was an error)

Words, recently

sprezzatura. foreign term (??) :: studied nonchalance : perfect conduct or performance of something (as an artistic endeavor) without apparent effort // i.e., Roger Angell on George Frazier

courgette. noun :: zucchini (!!) Origin: French, diminutive of courge gourd. // NOTE: I first misread this as "courage gourd" and my respect for zucchini increased a billionfold. Swashbuckling hero vegetable! Then I adjusted my eyeballs and now all my dreams are dead.

shambolic. adjective :: very messy or disorganized

hie. intransitive verb :: to go quickly; hasten

facile. adjective :: too simple : not showing enough thought or effort; done or achieved in a way that is too easy

foofaraw. noun :: frills and flashy finery; a disturbance or to-do over a trifle

recondite. adjective :: not understood or known by many people

Source: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/merriam-we...

Words, recently

vertiginous. adjective :: causing or likely to cause a feeling of dizziness especially because of great height

elision. noun :: the act or an instance of omitting something : omission

hew. intransitive verb :: to conform, adhere — often used in the phrase hew to the line

parochial. adjective :: confined or restricted as if within the borders of a parish : limited in range or scope (as to a narrow area or region) : provincial, narrow

obviate. transitive verb :: to make (something) no longer necessary : to prevent or avoid (something)

Source: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/merriam-we...