It’s probably no surprise to anyone that writers love words, and I’m no exception. I have words I like, words that annoy me, and a few that stand out as favourites. Here are ten words that I think are some of the most beautiful in the English language…
Meander has always been my favourite word: I love the meaning (totally appropriate to my own life, I might add) and how saying it sounds like its meaning. Meander is also a name for a winding border design formed by a continuous line:
I first heard this word on the X-Files episode “Eve” and it became an instant favourite. What an elegant way for a vampire to tell their victim they want to suck their blood. Keep it classy!
But if bloodletting is too messy for you, there’s always…
I love that there’s a word that describes something so specific. And it’s fun to say–go ahead and try it. Lexico also offers an additional, informal, definition: “to remove or dismiss someone from a position of power or authority.” Clearly a useful word on numerous levels.
I guess I really enjoy onomatopoeical words because susurrate is another one that sounds like its meaning. Every time I hear it I picture gentle breezes in gardens. You could even say the word is…
It just rolls off the tongue.
Sometimes it’s not the word itself, but where you learned it. Any Buffy fan will recognize “effulgent” as the word that earned William (AKA Spike) the mocking derision of several douchey Victorians for his “bloody awful” poem. Personally, I think the real crime was rhyming “’tis grown a bulge in’t” with effulgent, but the man was lovesick–he had bigger things to worry about than mediocre poetry. Effulgent actually has a lovely meaning and I think it needs to be put to use more often. Just watch the rhymes.
I like all versions of this word: luminesce, luminescent, luminescence. It’s a pretty word with a fun meaning–who doesn’t like glowing things (bio-luminescent mushrooms, for example)?
You can say you talk in your sleep, or you can use a word that makes you sound like a character from Shakespeare. Am I a sleep talker? No, my good sir; I am a somniloquist. Prithee stay the night and mark my somniloquay!
Magic, sorcery, enchantment–I like them all, but I think “ensorcell” best captures the awe and beauty of the beguiling arts.
There’s a delicacy inherent in the word frangible that’s lacking in the more prosaic fragile. Anything can be fragile, but only the most vulnerable are frangible. Or maybe that’s just me.
What do you think? Did I miss your favourite word? Share in the comments…
Considering pretty much everyone has handled a book at least once, it’s funny that most of us aren’t fully versed in the names for their various parts. While you can probably confidently point out a cover or a page, did you know there’s a word for the blank space between pages? What do you call that doodle on a book’s spine? And how does a book have a spine, anyway? Today we get an lesson on the anatomy of books…
Do you have other words about books to share? Let me know in the comments. Find out more about the history of these words here.
As we head into the holiday season, it seems like a good time to post something fun. I snagged this from A.M. Molvik’s Ramblings. Feel free to share on your own blog (leave me a comment to let me know if you do). Enjoy…
1.Do you get sick while reading in the car?
Unfortunately, yes. I can’t even look at a text on my phone without feeling queasy. It doesn’t help with reading, but I do recommend ginger for the nausea, if you’re also prone to car sickness.
2.Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you?
James Joyce. I can’t think of another author like him.
3.Harry Potter series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer.
This is a bizarre question, like asking someone to choose between ice cream or a painting of Elvis on black velvet. Are the two even related?
I’m going with Harry Potter, but since HP needs no defending, here are 3 reasons why everyone should forget about Twilight already:
1. It was written by someone who doesn’t like vampires and has no interest in them, other than the ones she writes about. Never read a book by someone who has no respect for the subject.
2. It presents stalking and abuse as “romance.”
3. It’s not so much a story, as propaganda for the author’s religious and moral beliefs. Do yourself a favour and read something else.
4.Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books…)?
If I bring a book along, I usually just hold it (unless it’s small enough to fit in my purse). If I do bring a larger bag to accommodate a book, I’ll also usually put my purse in there (easier than picking out just the stuff I need), maybe a bottle of water, my hairbrush, a camera–whatever I think I’ll need while I’m out.
5.Do you smell your books?
Not really; I think I’m immune to book smell.
6.Books with or without little illustrations?
Illustrations are always fun, but not necessary.
7.What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing?
A lot of books I read as a kid. I’ve recently re-read some of them and have been disappointed (Gordon Korman, I’m looking at you).
8.Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share!
I’m not sure how funny this is, but growing up, I didn’t have a lot of access to books at home other than the Encyclopedia Britannica (yes, I’m that old), Greek history books, and a few of my older sister’s novels. So one of the books I would read (more than once) was the Donny Osmond Mystery (Donny Disappears!)
The really funny part might be that I still have it.
9.What is the thinnest book on your shelf?
A Dover Edition of Daisy Miller by Henry James (Dover Editions all tend to be slim).
10.What is the thickest book on your shelf?
A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.
11.Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author?
I’m currently published. Find out more about my dark fantasy novel, Love Lies Bleeding, and my free ebook, Blood Magic,here.
12.When did you get into reading?
I’ve loved reading and books longer than I can remember. When I started kindergarten, my first question to the teacher was when were we going to the library. The kindergartners normally didn’t use the school library, but I was so excited to see the books that they ended up making special arrangements for my class.
13. What is your favorite classic book?
Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky.
14. In school what was your best subject?
English. I basically took every English class my high school offered, and then majored in English Lit in Uni.
15.If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated…what would you do?
I might try reading it again, but if I really hated it I’d probably just keep it on my shelf as a reminder of the person who gave it to me.
16.What is a lesser known series that you know of that is similar to Harry Potter or The Hunger Games?
I think it’s great when people branch out and read new things instead of different variations on a favourite theme. That being said, I do recommend the (non-YA) Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. It has magic, a dystopian future, shifters, witches, vampires, and a kick-ass female main character.
17.What is your favourite word?
Meander. I love both the rhythm of it and the meaning. Susurrate is also a good one.
18.Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above?
Who doesn’t love applying labels to themselves? Just call me a neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie.
19.Vampires or Fairies? Why?
Vampires, always. I like fairies, but fangs beat wings.
20. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why?
Shapeshifters interest me more. Angels can be okay if done right.
21.Spirits or Werewolves? Why?
Werewolves. Spirits are fine as minor characters, but as a main they’d be unsatisfying to read about and impossible to relate to.
22.Love Triangle or Forbidden Love?
Forbidden love, I guess. Love triangles always make me question why they don’t just try a poly relationship.
23.AND FINALLY: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in?
Action packed, tyvm. I probably shouldn’t admit this publicly, but I find Jane Austen-style romances tedious. Maybe it’s the lack of Osmond brothers 😉
As a writer, I love words. As a vampire fan, I write about vampires. It seems natural to combine it all into one post: I bring you words about vampires 🙂
Sanguisuge (n) is a new word to me. It means bloodsucker, or leech. From Latinsanguisuga, from sanguis(“blood”) + sugere(“to suck”). Wikionary says it’s obsolete but I think it’s due for a comeback.
Related: “Sanguisugent,” (adj) blood sucking or blood thirsty.
You may have heard vampires occasionally referred to as revenants. The word was coined in 1814 by Laetitia Matilda Hawkins in Rosanne:
“‘Well, but what is it? What do you call it in French?’ ‘Why, revenant, to be sure. Un revenant.'” (p. 260)
From from Greek lamia “female vampire, man-eating monster,” literally “swallower, lecher,” from laimos “throat, gullet.” (Source).
“Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomèd mine—
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.” -John Keats, “Lamia”
1. (adj) no longer alive but animated by a supernatural force, as a vampire or zombie.
2. (n) undead beings collectively (usually preceded by the) (Source)
The first use of “undead” was c. 1400, but its use as a noun to mean vampires and other creatures dates from 1904. (Source)
“It’s a reflex. Hear a bell, get food. See an undead, throw a knife. Same thing, really.” -Ilona Andrews, Magic Bites
Exsanguinate is one of those words I just really like. I first heard it on the X-Files episode “Eve” and it stuck with me. Exsanguinate is a verb meaning to bleed to death. It can also mean to drain blood or make bloodless, and it was first used around 1800, coming from the Latin exsanguinatus meaning bloodless or deprived of blood (Source).
“My first word for the new year was ‘exsanguinate,’ This was probably not a good omen.” -Charlaine Harris, Dead to the World
And of course, we can’t forget the word that all the others relate to:
The earliest form of the word “vampire” goes back to only 1734, although stories of monsters that rise from the dead and attack the living can be found even in ancient times. The idea of blood-gorged walking corpses goes back at least to the 1100s. There’s some debate as to where the word comes from, but it most likely has its roots in the Old Church Slavonic “opiri”. (Source)
“It was too much, the weight of it all was too much. Maybe that was why emotions were deadened in vampires; the alternative was to be overtaken by them, crippled, left stranded and isolated and trapped by unbearable sensation. How could they hunt if they felt sympathy, empathy, love for their prey? How could they—how could she—live with themselves?” Aspasía S. Bissas, Love Lies Bleeding
Yes, that’s a quote from my own book (I’m sneaky that way). You can find out more about Love Lies Bleeding, including where to get it, here. And if you want even more vampires, don’t forget to download my FREE story Blood Magic: get it here.
Did I miss your favourite word about vampires? Let me know in the comments. If you’re interested in words, you can also read my post on words about books.
As someone whose entire life revolves around books and words, it struck me that I haven’t given much thought to words about books. It’s time to remedy that particular oversight.
The term was coined in 1957 by H. L. Mencken:
“There are people who read too much: bibliobibuli. I know some who are constantly drunk on books, as other men are drunk on whiskey or religion. They wander through this most diverting and stimulating of worlds in a haze, seeing nothing and hearing nothing.”
If you can get drunk on books, why shouldn’t you devour them as well?
“Once you had got through Pooh and Dr. Dolittle, Alice and the Water Babies, you were a bibliophagist on the loose.” —Nadine Gordimer, Telling Times: Writing and Living, 1954–2008.
Although “clerisy” seems to have an elitist connotation to it, I like Robertson Davies’s explanation of its meaning:
“The clerisy are those who seek, and find, delight and enlargement of life in books. The clerisy are those for whom reading is a personal art.” –A Voice from the Attic, 1960
I think every reader can relate to this.
“The word dates back to the very beginning of modern Japan, the Meiji era (1868-1912) and has its origins in a pun. Tsundoku, which literally means reading pile, is written in Japanese as 積ん読. Tsunde oku means to let something pile up and is written 積んでおく. Some wag around the turn of the century swapped out that oku (おく) in tsunde oku for doku (読) – meaning to read. Then since tsunde doku is hard to say, the word got mushed together to form tsundoku.” -From Open Culture
Another one I can relate to. And if you’re wondering how to pronounce it:
The first use of it probably dates to 1921, in Christopher Morley’s Haunted Bookshop:
“‘All right,’ said the bookseller amiably. ‘Miss Chapman, you take the book up with you and read it in bed if you want to. Are you a librocubicularist?'”
“No historians have been more omnilegent, more careful of the document…” —George Saintsbury, A History of Nineteenth Century Literature.
There are so many more words about books out there, so consider this post Part 1. In the meantime, what’s your favourite book-related word?