Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Words

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Previous Top Ten Tuesday Topics


Oooo this is a delicious topic this week!

Because I adore words. I love them all in so many ways! I love the sounds of words that flow over the tongue; I love those obscure words with incredibly precise meanings that don’t quite slip into the category of jargon; I love words with fantastic and bizarre etymologies. I love long tongue twister words where syllables trip over each other; I love short, simple, honest, blunt words.

Remember, I said this was a delicious topic? I never said it would be easy to make this a manageable list!

Words that sound gorgeous

Mellifluous

This word describes all of the words in this list: they are all musical, delightful to the ear – their sounds are like the sweetness of the honey whose gentle flowing gives us this word.

Murmuration

The swooping flocks of starlings – a particular favourite as it is a word my daughter has picked up and applies widely to any group of birds. And she is autistic and was almost non-verbal when she began school.

Susurration

A gorgeous and onomatopoeic word that describes the low hum of noise in a busy room, too low to make out words… from the Latin susurrus meaning whisper.

Loquacious

For this one, the way the word rolls around your mouth and tongue is a delight. And its meaning? Talkative, and chatty.

Interesting Etymologies

Oh boy, I love etymologies and I exhort any other word nerds out there to cast an eye over Mark Forsyth’s The Etmologicon – a great, readable meandering tour of weird word connections!

Ampersand

The little and sign & is the ampersand. And once it was considered an addendum to the alphabet and schoolchildren around the country were expected to recite “a, b, c, d… and, per se, and” and that final phrase, “and, per se, and” elided itself over time to “ampersand”.

Pandemonium

Chaos, confusion and catastrophes, pandemonium could have been used to describe various birthday parties I have endured with young children, and perhaps my daughter’s bedroom! But the etymology here is clear: Milton coined the word in Paradise Lost for the palace created in Hell by Satan to house all the demons.

Disgruntled

This is one of those words where people wonder where the antonym is: is that man is disgruntled, where are the gruntled people?

What I like about this is the baldness of the root word, grunt – so animalistic and brutal – and the two ways is affixes work: the ~le indicating repetition (in the same way is does with “sparkle”, a repeated set of sparks); and the dis~ intensifying the negative connotations of the grunting.

Weird Semantics

Autoantonyms

These are words which can be used as their own antonyms or opposites, depending on the sentence.

Cleave

A child may cleave to her father’s side (clinging to it tightly) whilst the boat he steers cleaves through (separates) the waves.

Sanction

When a child makes a poor choice about which the parents around them disapprove, they can expect to be sanctioned (given a punitive consequence); at the same time, official bodies will sanction (approve) actions.

Words that change class depending on stress

This is a beautiful and subtle feature of the English language and these are just a couple of examples.

Convict

A judge might convict (verb) the defendant at the end of the trial, which will make that person a convict (noun).

Ally

We might choose to ally (verb) ourselves with a certain person or country in times of need, when we need an ally (noun) to defend us.

Upcoming Top Ten Tuesday Themes


October 25: Halloween Freebie
November 1: Unlikable Characters You Can’t Help but Love (These are villains, criminals, jerks, etc. that make you fall in love with them anyway, perhaps because they evolve by the end or they’re secretly wonderful and have been all along.)
November 8: Series I’d Like to Start/Catch up on/Finish
November 15: Favorite “Aww” Moments In Books (Share those sweet/cute moments in books that give you warm fuzzies.)
November 22: Thankful Freebie
November 29: Cozy Reads (Share books that give off a cozy vibe, whether through atmosphere, setting, or some other factor. Please tell us why they’re cozy for you, too!)
December 6: Freebie
December 13: Books on My Winter 2022-2023 To-Read List
December 20: Books I Hope Santa Brings This Year
December 27: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection (What books did you get as presents this holiday season? Or what did you buy with gift cards?)

19 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Words”

  1. This prompt was made just for you! So well done. I agree murmuration is a great word. And I especially like your reasoning for loving it. ❤

    Like

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