A Few of My Favourite Words

I am a logophile. I realize that is not a common term used to describe someone. Logophile comes from the Greek – logos meaning speech, words, and philos meaning dear and friendly, according to Emily Brewster, with a degree in Linguistics and Philosophy from the University of Massachusetts and a senior editor for Merriam Webster.

I’ve written before of my book of lists, in which one would find a list of my “Favourite Words”. Aside of the obvious entries of balloon, giggle, bubble, and guffaw, I am always adding new words that I stumble upon that fill me with delight. Words like deliquescent – tending to become liquid. I know that feeling. Words like flabbergast – to surprise greatly. Not always a positive. Or accismus (pronounced ac-ciz-mis), which means feigning disinterest when someone grabs the last cookie off the plate. Apricate means to bask in the sunshine, which makes me think of apricot whose colour implies they have done a fair bit of apricating. Paraprosdokians are witty one-liners with an unexpected ending that makes the reader rethink the first part of the sentence. A hilarious example is one from Stephen King: “I have the heart of a small boy – in a glass jar on my desk.” Comedians are the most frequent employer of this literary technique.

We take ordinary words and place them on the page just so, in a letter or in a story or in a reminder to ourselves. The arrangement of those words makes the idea or thought come to life, as if it might leap right off the page and have a life of its own, running down the street or jumping on to a fast-moving train as those words take us somewhere we were not. It is what fine writers of letters and stories do for us; each word placed in a particular pattern just for us. It is why all stories don’t reach everyone in the same way. We each react in our own unique way.

One of my favourite new words is glimmer. A glimmer is a “small amount of joy or peace that arises from appreciating simple things, like the colours of rainbow, the scent of a flower, the sound of the rain”, according to the Newport Institute. A glimmer sparks a positive reaction and there isn’t one among us who doesn’t need a positive reaction on any given day. I was feeling chilly the other day, the kind of chilly that soaks through to the bones and creates discomfort and just then the air from my heat pump hit me, rescuing me from the cold and I couldn’t help but smile and whisper a thank you to this gesture, as if this object in my home recognized it was just what I needed. I put my morning coffee on and then hurry out into the cold to put my recycling and garbage in their respective containers at the side of my house. I hurried back in and opened my door and was met with that glorious smell of freshly brewing coffee and I was immediately, without hesitation, transported back to Annie’s kitchen and every cell in my body shouted out joy and I felt safe and loved and cherished. My daughters call me regularly, Samantha calls me every day that she drives to and from work and we discuss the challenges of her day. But sometimes she calls me unexpectedly in the middle of the day and my first reaction is that she is in some kind of difficulty, but then her voice comes across after I say “hello” and the tone of her voice has a smile built right into it because she knows I immediately go to danger first. Though it sounds like a tragic moment, which it was, when I had to put my horse down after a twenty-five-year relationship with him, came a glimmer for me instead of a trigger. Nassau was nervous, could sense that something was different. Just before the veterinarian injected the life-ending serum into Nassau’s body, Nassau placed his face against my chest and nickered softly, as if to assure me all would be okay, that I would be able to live without him. So, when I remember him now, that glimmer is ever present, and I am reminded of our rare and precious relationship rather than his departure from my life. That is indeed a glimmer. Glimmers are all around us; all we need do is look for them and our day will be transformed from mediocre to joyful. It is that simple. How could glimmer ever not be my favourite word.

wendistewart@live.ca