Recently, someone asked me, “What’s your favorite word?” I was taken aback; I’d never been asked that question before and I’ve never considered having a favorite word.
When asked about my favorite color (blue) or my favorite composer (J.S. Bach), my answers are at the ready. But, my favorite word? I have to think about this.
I write quite a bit: web content, ad hoc poetry, all sorts of things, so, of course, I’ve developed a diverse vocabulary. The more important questions: Do I need a favorite word? Do I have to choose just one? Can I change my mind, i.e., my word?
I asked a professional editor if she has a favorite word. She responded so quickly that it frightened me. Have I been missing out on something all these years? (By the way, her favorite word is “persnickety.”)
If I decide to settle in on a favorite word, I’m thinking I want it to be something complex, out-of-the-ordinary, even. “Prestidigitation” perhaps? I love all those syllables and it’s so fun to say aloud. Plus, people often ask me what it means, so it can be a conversation starter.
Or, wait! Perhaps my favorite word should be short and simple, going for the “less is more” approach. If I select this route, perhaps I’ll choose “we.” I like the inclusivity of “we,” plus, it steers me away from my natural tendency to assume (wrongly) that I don’t need others to make things happen.
As I’m writing, I’m recalling a book I recently read in which I encountered a word previously unknown to me on nearly every page (and the book weighed in at 600 pages)! Although this made for a slower reading pace, I enjoyed the opportunity to beef up my vocabulary.
Back to the idea of having a favorite word, maybe I will choose one. I could choose something neither too complex nor too simple; something sort of “middle of the road,” yet meaningful to me. Then, I could embed the word in my everyday spoken and written vocabulary. I could make it part of my personal trademark.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite word? Should I get one?
by Rebecca Cochran