Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wednesday Word Snoot: Silly Words

Courtesy of Graphican.com
You may remember that during the run-up to election 2012, Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama of using "silly word games." I half-heard that news report and what I heard was "silly words."  That set off a train of thought that ended, as many of my trains of thought do, with a spot of Googling. (Search engines are the best thing to happen to procrastination since ... crossword puzzles. You can waste a lot of time Googling, as with completing crossword puzzles, but you almost always learn something.)
Who knew there was a linguist who's compiled a list of the "100 Silliest Words in English?"  Check it out here.  My favorite is "bloviate," which means to speak pompously or brag. Some of the words on the list are actually phrases, but let us not split hairs.
Writer's Digest has compiled a list of funny words to help writers write funnier stories. I'm not sure I see the innate hilarity of words like "bulgur" and "knickers," but a fair number of the words on the list not only sound funny but have obscure definitions (which they don't give, I guess assuming that writers will know what they mean). And extra points to you if you know what a "bumfuzzle" is. (If you don't, check it out at dictionary dot com.
Wikipedia has an entry on "Inherently funny words" that's extremely academic but has some interesting pop culture references, including one to a Star Trek: Next Generation episode where Joe Piscopo tells Commander Data that words ending in K are always funny.
But if you want to know what words are really inherently funny, it's best to have a little kid around. If you find them repeating a word or phrase, it's going to be because it tickled their fancy. (My sister, for reasons unknown to the rest of the family, thought the name "Gene Siskel" was hilarious and was prone to using it to punctuate sentences when she was a little girl.) Dr. Seuss was the master of silly words, and his word "grinch" is now a permanent part of the lexicon.
Wouldn't you love to invent a silly word that got adopted by everyone?

2 comments:

  1. "Bloviate" is one of my favorite words. A while back I saw someone on a forum refer to a certain Fox News Channel host as a "bloviating fuckbucket," which I maintain is one of the best insults ever. ;-)

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  2. right up there with my absolute favorite insult, "Thou whoreson zed." And you really don't get that many chances to use that.

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