I like words. I especially like words that sum up an entire thought, image or idea in compact, easily spoken syllables. Musical words that conjure a pure emotion. Sonorous sounds with deep, rich meanings.
Each morning, a computer somewhere sends me the “Word of the Day”. Most days, I’m familiar with the subject and I wonder why someone/something selected that particular, everyday word. But other days, I receive a gem.
I save those words, hording them for a time when I might need to busticate the mundane. Or want to point out how kenspeckle someone is or write a story about bilocation. These words drive my spell checker crazy and make me grin.
My two favs of late are mugwump and scapegrace. Both nouns, both applicable to everyday encounters. I’d never seen these two but love the way they bump and scrape on the tongue. Contrary to my initial hunch, a mugwump is not something from the Harry Potter books. It actually refers to someone who can’t make up their mind. (I know a lot of mugwumps.) A scapegrace is a wild, reckless, unprincipled person. (I don’t hang out with many of these, but they make great characters in a story.)It has such an oxymoronic feel, the rough and the delicate slammed together.
Don’t worry that I might adopt a smug accent and start looking down my nose whilst spouting strings of words that sound like another language. But I might sneak one or two into a story. Will a reader be put off by jotting the word down for later research or pausing just long enough for a look-up? If the word is perfect for the scenario, I’d hope not. And maybe, just maybe, it might result in a smile, a nod of approval, a topic for later conversation.
Ah, the power of words.
My husband, voracious reader of newspapers and current event magazines, is always asking me to spell some word for him, because, he says, “You read hard-cover books.”
Well, look out, honey. Now I’m writing them. And even if nary a one ever finds itself between two pasteboard covers, they are as good as some that have. At least to me.
Now excuse me. I need to study my craft and cachinnate over the latest shenanigans in a cheechako’s breakout novel.