Favourite words

Do you have a favourite word?  There’s certainly plenty to choose from, at least 250,000 distinct words listed by The Oxford English Dictionary. We have assimilated words from many other languages throughout history so that modern English contains a very large vocabulary. Some people refer to English as a “borrowing” language.

Historically, English originated from the fusion of languages and dialects, collectively termed Old English, which were brought to the eastern coast of Great Britain by Germanic (Anglo-Saxon) settlers by the 5<sup>th</sup> century. Then came Latin.  Many English words are constructed based on roots from Latin, because Latin in some form was the lingua franca of the Christian Church and of European intellectual life.

When the Vikings invaded in the 8th and 9th centuries the Old Norse language further influenced our language. The Norman conquest of England in the 11<sup>th</sup> Century gave rise to heavy borrowings from Norman- French.

Language is a living, breathing, developing thing and changing all the time.  You only have to look at Chaucer in the 14th century to see how different language was at that time. (“Freres ad feendes been but lyte asunder – Friars and fiends are seldom far apart.” From the Summoner’s tale part of the Canterbury tales.) Even now modern English is incorporating words from other European languages but also from all over the world including words of Hindi and African origin.

So there are a rich variety of words in the English language and it is fun to trace the history and origins of words.  One of my favourites is <strong>Duplicitous</strong>.  My father once asked me if duplicitous was a derogatory word and I replied  “Well as it is usually linked to the word b*****d, I think could you say that.” It means double-dealing or deceitful and comes from Old French early 15c and Late Latin c300 to c700.

Another word I like is <strong>Oleaginous</strong>, which means oily.  It kind of trips off your tongue, O  lee ag  in ous and sound just like it’s meaning. It comes from Latin oleaginous “of the olive” and from the French oleagineux circa 1630.

My husband’s favourites are <strong>Mellifluous </strong>meaning melodious and this also just trips off your tongue mel if loo ous. This word comes from the early 15c, and means “sweet, pleasing (of and odour, a style of speaking or writing, etc.) from Late Latin mellifluous “flowing with (or as with) honey,” He also likes <strong>Stygian</strong> meaning darkness, gloomy or rather pertaining to Styx, the river flowing through the nether world. It comes from Old Greek, an Indo-European language spoken in Greece in the classical period, circa 8c. B.C.E.-4c.d

He also likes <strong>Ichor, </strong>which is the fluid that serves for blood in the<strong> </strong>veins<strong> </strong>of the ancient gods.1630’s from Greek ichor, of unknown origin, possibly from a non–Indo European language.  I used both these two last words in my books to describe Vastator, villain wizard, and the first because he is dark and sinister and the second to describe the “blood” that flows in his veins because he is an immortal. My husband’s weirdest word is <strong>Chthonic</strong>, of Greek origin, meaning pertaining to the underworld.

<strong> </strong>My last word is <strong>Copacetic</strong> meaning agreeable, satisfactory or Ok.  This is a modern word and used in America more than Great Britain.  I could not find its origin from the on-line Etymology Dictionary but it states in the Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial expressions by Richard A Spears that it is originally black and probably French.

Well, there we go, these are some of my favourite words.  How about you?  What are your favourite words? Let me know, as I may like them too!