Words are beautiful. They can evoke such an array of emotions, have life-altering effects, kill people or elicit crazy laughter. The first word that I fell in love with, was the word “enhance“!! I must have been in middle school and had always been a voracious reader. But my love affair with words started then. I had never used the word „enhance“ all that much in the past….and when I heard a classmate use it in a debate, it struck me how apt that word was in that context. And since then there have been numerous such flings I have had…some short-lived, and others that have stayed with me.
I look out for words that convey the meaning they do in ways more than one. In the way they sound, and the reaction they evoke…. Diffuse for eg….you can almost sense a blue ink seeping through a glass bowl of water! Or Nebulous ..a word that brings to mind visions of a bulbous amoeba like structure…or Tingling!!!
By the same yarstick, there are words I hate…..everyday words like Which…and not-so-everyday words like Hackeney. No apparent reason, maybe they were used in a context that brings up unpleasant memories! The best part is that a word can have this ability and the power to affect one in any way they want. Just that we dont realise it most of the time!! This is one of the reasons I love words.
Like my fellow lover of words, author Bill Bryson puts it…“Any language where the unassuming word fly signifies an annoying insect, a means of travel, and a critical part of a gentleman’s apparel is clearly asking to be mangled.“
And then there are words that have kept changing meanings over a period of time, which is why perhaps they dont evoke such a passionate response in one as do the others. Brave, for example, once implied cowardice — as indeed Bravado still does.
A word that perhaps describes this best is Nice, which is first recorded in 1290 with the meaning of stupid and foolish. A century later, it was being used to mean lascivious and wanton. Then at various times over the next centuries, it came to mean anything from extravagant, elegant, strange, slothful, unmanly, luxurious, modest, slight, precise, thin, shy, discriminating, dainty, and eventually in the last few centuries — pleasant and agreeable. Perhaps, that is why when someone says „you are nice“, one doesnt really know what exactly they mean!!!
That was a nice long blog post…………