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Tuesday , December 14, 2010

All-Time Top 5: The Best and Worst Words in the Entire English Language

In a mad dash to surpass my recent Love Letter to Rasputin as the weirdest article I have ever posted to nogoodforme.com, here is this.


In the same way that Sir Laurence Olivier is an "actor," I am a "writer" (said Laura Jane facetiously). Larry and I are the important kind of actors and writers, the kind whose title must be delivered in a snooty British accent. As one of these "writ-ahhhs," I am near-problematically obsessed by and fascinated with words. In the "words" (HA!) of the Tom Tom Club, "Words have always nearly hung me." What I mean by this re-appropriation of a probably nonsensical quote from "Wordy Rappinghood" is: call me melodramatic (Go ahead! Do it! I dare you!), but I genuinely believe that the impulse to write words down is a psychiatric condition that has gone undiagnosed for all human history because it occasionally has some social value.

The "Top of the Thesaurus" portion of what I can only pray is my all-time weirdest nogoodforme post is the definitive list of my Top 5 Favourite Words of All-time Forever. They are sickeningly delicious diamonds, opaline, decadent and scratchy, absolute perfection in my "books" (literally!) They are the cupcakes of English. Oh yeah- don't forget to leave me ten trillion comments telling me your personal faves!

Laura Jane Faulds, the James Joyce of fashion bloggers.


"What would this blasted world feel like to me if everyone and everything inside of it was scrappy?" asks the ever-effusive Laura Jane Faulds of nogoodforme.com. As much as it is my instinct to respond to any wish I could possibly think of with some sort of defaming counterpoint; on this matter, I know. It would be heaven. It would be heavenly hash, as in "equal to having a heavenly experience smoking hashish," only there would be no need for softcore opiates, since life itself would be better than LSD.


"Anhedonia" is what famed anhedoniac Woody Allen originally wanted "Annie Hall" to be called. It worked out well for me that narrow-minded late-1970s movie execs deemed the title "box office poison," because it would be lame to have one of my all-time favourite words be the name of a Woody Allen film. Dictionarily, "anhedonia" is "the inability to experience pleasure." Ironically, the act of using "anhedonia" in a sentence is one of the least anhedoniacal events imaginable.


Like "unalloyed" and "Draconian," "sanguine" is one of those words that functions as "insta-good writer potion." When I am not penning Internet odes to squirrelish comedians and deceased Soviet mystics, I will occasionally write a short story or two. My short stories, though undoubtedly inferior to those of Anton Chekhov, are almost certainly better than "Pinecone" by Michael Cera, which was published in the most recent installment of McSweeney's Quarterly, and makes me want to kill Michael Cera. Thus far, I am yet to write a short story that does not feature a showstopper of a sentence that I wrote once and never got over: "Chambord spewed sanguine." It is a good thing my stories are never published, because it's unacceptable for every single short story by a given writer to feature the same sentence; unless, that is, I released a mid-to-high-concept short story anthology called "Chambord Spewed Sanguine," all about instances when my main characters (all poorly-disguised approximations of myself, no less) knocked over Chambord, and it spewed sanguine. If there is one gift I have in this life, it is the ability to pass off slackerdom as conceptualism.


"Pepper" is so sweet, it would make James Earl Jones sound like the narratrix of "Kittens Inspired By Kittens". When, for once in your godsaken life, you take a moment to consider it, the premium adorability of "pepper" actually does not lend itself well to expressing the sneeziness and piquancy of real-life pepper (the seasoning). "Pepper" should be "sugar," or at very least "nutmeg." I was going to suggest that "pepper" should be "cinnamon," but cinnamon is doing pretty well for itself, and I don't want "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young to be "Pepper Girl" by Neil Young; that sounds dumb. Unfortunately for the word "pepper," its star quality was temporarily put on hold when Pepper Ann Pearson appeared on the scene in the late 1990s. Pepper Ann was Disney's One Saturday Morning's paltry attempt at crafting a female correlative to Doug Funnie, which was stupid, because Doug Funnie was the only person in the world who sucked harder than Pepper Ann Pearson. But I digress.


Normally, Wikipedia explains everything, but I just Wikipedia-ed "knickerbocker," and am still kinda iffy on its actual definition. Sadly, one thing I did learn from "knickerbocker"'s Wikipedia entry is that "Knickerbocker" is the real-live last name of certain Dutch people. This is sad news because I kind of want to die now that I know my name could hypothetically be Laura Jane Knickerbocker, but isn't. If this sprawling expanse of injustice isn't proof that the world is an implicitly evil place, your outlook on life is way too rosy for your own good, and you are most likely setting yourself up for disappointment. Despite the tragedy of my not being named Laura Jane Knickerbocker, I am in possession of a really killer spirit animal named Knickerbocker. He is a scrappy, adolescent black kitten-cat who lives in a pumpkin. I also have a New York Knicks t-shirt.


Having recently digested the introduction to my "Top of the Thesaurus" list, you may find yourself thinking, "What a cocksure egomaniac that Laura Jane Faulds is." Well, my friend, you are certainly not the first person who has accused me of being a cocksure egomaniac, but I suspect you may be the last. What I am about to say will ultimately prove that I have been blessed with a near-astronomical amount of humility, which is that I may be a genius writer, but sometimes, even I have no choice but to use crappy words. Yes, I know. My selflessness levels are off the charts. Compared to me, Mother Teresa is basically Donald Trump.

I am being facetious again. Alls I mean to say is that, as much as some words are lovely and special as glimmering pearls in the crusty old oyster-shell that is human existence, some words are the dog shit encrusting the bottom of your shoe on the rainy day you spilled scalding hot coffee on yourself and got broke up with on an a Post-It note. Please approach "The Dregs of the Dictionary," my equally-definitive list of Top 5 Least-Favourite Words of All-time Forever with caution. They're all really ugly, so if you're sensitive, you may find the content behind the jump severely emotionally triggering.

PS: Don't forget to leave me ten trillion comments telling me your personal least-faves!


I hate the word "Google" (Whoa! Google is going to get so many hits from being linked from nogoodforme.com! You are welcome, Google!) so much that I remained ardently Googlephobic 'til waayyyy past Google's point of no return. As far as early-21st century Laura was concerned, no amount of user-friendliness could justify my cooperating with such a grossly-named search engine. Early-21st century Laura was wrong, of course; Google took over the world, and I caved. Besides, "Yahoo" is no "knickerbocker" itself. What really irks me about Google's societal omnipresence is that I have completely adapted to the word "google",and now say it upwards of fifteen thousand times a day, every day, nary a once pausing to consider its linguistic barfiness. I have lost myself.


This is an unexpected one, because all the pasta names are Italian, and Italian is my second-favourite language (Russian takes top honors; maybe stay tuned for my "All-Time Top 5: Languages" post?!) However, Italy really fucked it up when it came to naming their pasta. Every pasta name sucks, but the worst are "linguini," "rigatoni," "pappardelle," "canneloni," and, the ultimate offender, "tortellini" (FYI, Wikipedia's List of Pasta page is informative and comes highly recommended from me; I'm personally really interested to try croxetti, which are medallion-shaped pasta disks embossed with coats of arms). It is convenient that "tortellini" is one of my least-favourite words of all time, since it is also my least-favourite pasta of all time, and therefore rarely have to say it (although maybe my hatred of tortellini the food is merely a coping mechanism?). Honest to Pete, I cannot say the word "tortellini" without blushing like mad. It makes me feel like I am saying a word so dirty, filthy, and of a sexual nature that you or I could not even fathom it, because that level of dirtiness does not actually exist, except for intangibly in my mind when I say "tortellini." Writing about pasta-hate has also brought to my attention how the words "pasta" and "noodle" are pretty puke-worthy themselves. I vote for re-naming them "terrier" and "macadam."


All this tortellini-hatin' has inspired me take some time out of my impossibly busy life to consider precisely why the word "tortellini" makes me want to commit suicide. I have come to the conclusion that, gross-sounding as "-ellini" is, it's not that gross-sounding. The real problem of "tortellini" is the "tort" of it. Once upon a time, I took a class about something called "Business Law," was overexposed to the word "tort," and watched my life fall apart before my very eyes. I eventually had to drop the course because my fellow classmates were distracted by how I was constantly projectile vomiting. True story: two years ago, I was poised to become the Greatest Lawyer of All-Time; I'd gotten into Harvard Law School and everything. But then I realized that if I became a hot-shot lawyer, I would be unable to escape the word "tort", and would get very sick from dehydration as a side effect of all the "tort"-related vomiting. That just didn't sound worth it to me, so I decided to become a fashion blogger, and the rest is history.


I never really considered the obnoxiousness of the word "neon" until I decided to write a nogoodforme post about my least favourite words in the English language and started racking my brain for the most loathsome words I know. "Neon" jumped into my mind, and I soon realized that, well, I fucking hate it. It's nerdy, nasal, triangular, overly sharp, and sounds like it should be nothing but a Steve Urkel catchphrase.


If the words "lump," "rump" and "pimple" all had a baby together, and the baby was ugly, that baby would be "primp." However: the words "rump," "lump," and "pimple" are supposed to be gross. They mean gross things. But "primping" is, literally, the act of degrossifying yourself. This makes no sense. It's as if "washing" was called "nasdirtying." But I think the real culprit behind the "LJ Hates Primp" tip is an innate revulsion I have towards "-mp" words. "Pomp" sucks. "Bump" and "Bomp," as in Bomp Records, suck less than "pomp," but not by much. The jury's still out on "chomp" (chomp: hot or not?);"gimp" and "limp," somehow, are both fine. The exception to the rule is that words ending with "-amp" are not so horrible; "camp" and "ramp" and "champ" are all kinda cute. But the real enemy here is "hump"; compared to "hump," "primp" is a motherfucking walk in the park. My hatred of "hump" is just so strong that there is no way on Earth I would ever think to pollute the nogoodforme.com homepage with a cute little Century Gothicked, Textile Blogged banner reading "HUMP." That is fucking disgusting.

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I can't stand the words moist and damp. They gross me out a lot.

I love the word portmanteau. I also love the word macabre because it looks and sounds rad, but lately its been tinged with pretension.

By Samantha on April 22, 2009 1:39 AM

I really hate the word panties. I think because it is so prissy. No one can sound suave or nonchalant saying that word. I also dislike liaison because no matter how you say it it sounds like it's being mispronounced.

I think the best words are words like wretched or unwieldy. I have no idea why; I just think they are great to say.

I like the word frolic. And languidly. Thanks for the introduction to anhedonia. I hadn't heard of that one even though I read the dictionary all the time. Shame on me.

Samantha - I HATE the word moist. It's so creepy. And guess what? I have a blog called The Portmanteau - you have to check it out. It's not about words though.

Lx http://www.theportmanteau.com/

There is a new book, the name of which momentarily escapes me, in which the author reads all volumes of the Thesaurus and lists the best obscure words he has found. Right up our respective alleys, no?

My top 5 words:

1. qualms
2. gumption
3. squalor
4. hackneyed
5. wanton


1. I'm pretty okay with moist & damp, but a lot of people have serious "moist" issues. Moist grosses me out most as the name late-1990s Canuck alt-rock band, Moist. Awful moniker. Moniker is good.

2. Panties, God. That would make my Top 10 worst for sure.

3. I greatly prefer portmanteau the concept and portmanteau the blog to portmanteau the word.

4. "hackneyed" is amazing; "gumption" makes me want to barf. It is like the demented baby of all those "-mp" words and Forrest Gump.

5. Oh yeah, and squalor is pretty great, but has been ruined for me forever thanks to my stint at Lavish & Squalor. Lavish I was never all that crazy about in the 1st place.

6. I want to do a This Post Redux, only with people's names. Possibly all proper nouns.

One of the best words of all time: Panache.
I really want to grow up to have a white cat, who will also somehow be tough and scrappy in spite of being somewhat fluffy and white, and name it Panache. Because that's just really badass in a Cyrano-style way.

Best French word ever: Moustachu(e).

my favorite word is cacophony. maybe you already knew that.

fart and grope are gross. ew. pretty much any word that is not those 2 are good by me.

im really into pepper.

I can't believe you just said "fart" on nogoodforme, Emily. That's even grosser than saying "hump" or "panties" on nogoodforme. Thanks a freaking lot.

'Baloney', for its association with bologna and b/c I could never quite understand why it meant 'nonsense', is one of my least favourite words.

'Moxie', for its under use in everyday conversation is one of my favourite words.
Though after reading above, a nice French spoken 'moustache' is pretty kickass.... or 'la Bicyclette' for that matter.

one of my least favorite words is "cholera".

some of my faves:

"polka" (especially when accompanied by "DOT"), "sharevari" (or shivaree), "eucalyptus" (i like a lot of plant and herb names, too).

i would really have to think about it more, though. the list could go on and on i'm sure!

By katie rose on April 24, 2009 1:07 AM



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