The Potency of a word

Words communicate. They can make you laugh. They can instill fear.  They can incite crowds to riot.  But, they can also move you to greatness.

Taken one at a time, words can simply be fun and put a smile on your face. Everyone has a favorite word.  And, if one doesn't come to mind immediately, give it some thought.  Mine is the French word for rubber, caoutchouc. Say it out loud with me: Kah-ute-chew. The “c” is silent. See how your mouth puckers, almost becoming rubbery in articulating the syllables?

My friend Charlie, a naval architect, loves the word "landlubberly." That's another example of a word which rolls all around in your mouth and feels very pleasing.  Somewhat of an esoteric word, it means to be inexperienced in seamanship, an expression which might resonate more with a King’s Point graduate—which Charlie is—than non-nautical types like me.

Our God daughter, Zoe Carter, loves “loquacious,” another example of a euphonious word.

Natasha Kavanagh, who was raised in the UK, is fond of the word "gorgeous." Similar in usage to the popular British expression "brilliant," she likes this better as the sound in rounder in the mouth and has more applications. First, it can be used as a greeting, "Hey Gorgeous!" Or, it can be used to describe something such as "This wine is gorgeous," meaning exceptional.  And then, it can also mean that something is terrific as in, "that's gorgeous," when applied to an activity.

Home designer Melody Vaugh at Homenature in Manhattan says her favorite word is "Peace."  Living in today’s upside-down world, this is a much-welcomed word which hopefully, we’ll see more of in the future. 

As much as some words make you happy, others annoy.  Take for example those pesty words which through over-use become almost meaningless. I call them "fashionable words.” Eventually, they become out of style and are easily discarded like shoes with worn heels.

My most disliked fashionable words of 2017—all of them marketing buzz words—were "curated, trajectory,” and “transparency."  Did I forget to mention the equally annoying expressions “amazing, interesting,“ and “whatever?”

No doubt, you have words that make you bristle as well.

Let's all be on the lookout for the new words of the moment and see it if they can make it through a calendar year. One hold over from last year which, alas, appears to have some staying power is “Tribalism.” There’s a word I would like to see disappear forever.