Must Love Grammar, Long Walks on Beach
I am a voracious reader of personal ads. My favorite personals trope is the confusion between “discreet” (subtle, tactful) and “discrete” (totally separate, independent.) It happens all the time.
Well, thank god he can be discrete! Though, honestly, shouldn’t he be? I’m always discrete from my dates. I’m pretty sure I’ve never merged with one, amoeba-style—but I guess there’s a first time for everything.
Gets me every time.
For those of us who live in a world of word-nerdery, this is high comedy. And, yes, I am aware of the irony here: my finding the LULZ in others’ word usage makes me as undateable as these dudes.
Which is fine! Merriam-Webster and I are very, very happy together.
Even its name is brimming with charm. The word, “ampersand” is a conflation of “and per se and,” a Latin-English hybrid meaning, “the character ‘&’ by itself is and.” What other symbol refers to itself in its very name?!? Swoon.
(via The Beauty of the Ampersand | Being for the Benefit)
I was wondering where the word “ampersand” came from! This is fantastic. Check that one off the ol’ “list of mysteries” list.
It rivals “snark” (“snide”+ “remark”) as my new favorite portmanteau.
And yes, when I re-read this post, I wanted to punch me in the face, too. Your reaction is normal!
The Bus and Oyster
Occasionally, my mom will look at me like I’m a little bird she likes, but doesn’t understand how she hatched.
A few years ago she told me, “You know, you’re the first person I’ve ever met who likes the way certain words sound.” This seemed like a shock to me. You mean not everybody corrects grammar in the grocery store? We don’t all have to sleep with our dictionaries? We don’t all keep our toothbrushes facing Southwest at all times, or risk enraging fate?
Kidding. There’s nothing diagnosably wrong with me (I think.) But I’m still baffled at my mom’s bafflement. Don’t most of us roll good words around our mouths like rocks in a rock tumbler? Or is that just me?
For instance, one of my favorite instant-comedy words is “bus.” Something is inherently funny about buses. “My dog got hit by a car” is sad; “my dog got hit by a bus” is hilarious. (Uh, and, uh, I’m sorry for your loss.)
Today I stumbled back on another favorite: “Oyster.” The word “oyster” is just pretty, even though the thing itself is not. “Oy-” alone reminds me of early punk, or perhaps a middle-aged-man’s exhalation of regret. “-Ster” reminds me of a speedster, or a hamster. But together, they are beautiful.
I spent today deciding that I am going to open a bar and call it The Bus and Oyster. Because that thought bubble over my head is definitely a good use of my time.
Though Tumblr makes commenting obscenely annoying, I’ll leave it open-ended: are there any words that crack you up? Are there any words you love, despite what they mean? Or should I just make a hat out of tin foil and call it a day?
Mad props to Freud
Sometimes I get words stuck in my head, the same way a song gets stuck. The word will just pop up, and keep popping up, like some kind of bastard verbal Whack-a-Mole. Today’s installment is “desultory”. I don’t even know what “desultory” means, which makes me a little concerned that my brain keeps fixating on it.
Wow, nice one, subconscious. I am now going to use this word to describe EVERYTHING, because I’m pretty sure if you eat peanut butter with a fork and yell at cats, a lot of things in your life are desultory.
Bonus: I particularly like how it comes from a Latin word meaning “a circus rider who jumps from one horse to another”. Ah, the Romans, with their legendary love of circuses!