Happy Dictionary Day! Did you know: Dictionary Day is actually the birthday of lexicographer Noah Webster, who published his first dictionary in 1806? Webster started his second, more comprehensive dictionary in 1807—and it took twenty-six years to complete! To celebrate this important day in grammar history (at least, it is to us!), we at Writer’s Relief want to share our favorite words with you.
Ad Nauseam (adv.) — Stephanie
Referring to something that has been done or repeated so often that it has become annoying or tiresome
It doesn’t get used enough as a word, but it happens relatively frequently.
Anachronism (n.) — Kelly
- Something (such as a word, an object, or an event) that is mistakenly placed in a time where it does not belong in a story, movie, etc.
- A person or a thing that seems to belong to the past and not to fit in the present
I enjoy this word, because as a member of a medieval reenactment society, I am, myself, an anachronism!
Anagnorisis (n.) — Matthew
The point in the plot, especially of a tragedy, at which the protagonist recognizes his or her or some other character’s true identity or discovers the true nature of his or her own situation
I love classical tragedies and literature; the Ancient Greeks knew what was up. It’s also something that I feel I have personally experienced multiple times in life, serene moments of sublime self/situational-realization.
Antidisestablishmentarianism (n.) — Ronnie
Opposition to the withdrawal of state support or recognition from an established church, especially the Anglican Church in 19th-century England
I remember my grandfather teaching it to me before I started going to school. He thought it was an important thing for me to know.
Ataraxia (n.) — Tim
- A state of freedom from emotional disturbance and anxiety; tranquility
- Surrounding oneself with trustworthy and affectionate friends and, most importantly, being an affectionate, virtuous person, worthy of trust
Descending from a Greek philosophy that wholly embodies compassion, it is harmonious in sound, in style, in definition—and as we venture through the stresses of life, the idea of transcending that turmoil, up into the echelon of complete serenity, even if for a moment, is alluring and beautiful.
Austere (adj.) — Gema
- Simple or plain: not fancy
- Of a person: having a serious and unfriendly quality; having few pleasures: simple and harsh
It’s one of my favorite words because when you say it, it sounds luxurious and portrays someone classy and rich, but the word actually means the opposite of what it sounds like.
Bupkus (n.) — Carol
- The least amount
Bupkus is the alternate spelling for bubkes, but I feel it reads more like it sounds as BUPKUS. Here’s the best part! Origin of BUBKES – Yiddish (probably short for kozebubkes, literally, goat droppings). How can you not love a word with origins in goat droppings?!
But (conj.) — Jon
Used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned
It’s a bit inspiring that such a small word could hold so much power—a complete reversal in only one syllable.
Capricious (adj.) — Anthony
- Changing often and quickly; often changing suddenly in mood or behavior
- Not logical or reasonable: based on an idea, desire, etc. that is not possible to predict
I like the way it sounds, and it’s the first word that I liked the sound of.
Discombobulate (v.) — Allison
This is my favorite word purely because of how fun it is to say…I wish I had a more meaningful reason than that, but really, I just love the sound of it.
Eclectic (adj.) — Joey
Including things taken from many different sources
I think it does a good job of describing art, people, and life in general. It’s also really fun to say.
Epiphany (n.) — Krystal
A moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way
This word perfectly captures more than several occasions in my short life! I love that we can constantly discover a new facet to a person, place, idea, or object that we thought we knew. And it’s refreshing to remember that I shouldn’t take things at face value.
Flummox (v.) — David
To bewilder; confound; confuse
I love flummox because when I use the word in a sentence, most people are confounded by it!
Friend (n.) — Hermine
- A person who you like and enjoy being with
- A person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)
I find it a very comforting word.
Malevolent (adj.) — Nicole
Having, showing, or arising from intense often vicious ill will, spite, or hatred
I love it because it’s a word for evil and hatred, and yet it sounds beautiful. If you knew nothing about the word, you’d expect it to mean something nicer.
Nocturne (n.) — Morgan
- A piece of music especially for the piano that has a soft and somewhat sad melody
- A work of art dealing with evening or night
The word itself evokes a particularly somber feeling. Musical pieces that incorporate the nocturne resonate deeply with me, and thus the word has always been a favorite.
Om (n.) — Kevin
A mantra consisting of the sound \ˈōm\ and used in contemplation of ultimate reality
I like the word because I was told that the symbol for om was the sign representing the sound of human consciousness.
Ostranenie (n.) — Nicky
I love this word because it encourages people to see common things as strange, wild, or unfamiliar; defamiliarizing what is known in order to know it differently or more deeply.
Persnickety (adj.) — Jill
- Fussy about minor details
- Requiring great precision
I love this word because it’s so much fun to say!
Petrichor (n.) — Joe
A pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather
I just love the way it sounds. And I always thought there was something poetic about rainfall and how it’s often accompanied by such a sweet smell.
Precarious (adj.) — Ally
- Dependent on uncertain premises: dubious
- Dependent on chance circumstances, unknown conditions, or uncertain developments
Not only do I love the sound of the word, I also think it’s a really specific and evocative adjective to use while writing.
Serendipity (n.) — Meg
Luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for
Wendy, who also chose this word, says that she’s partial to serendipity for its meaning, as well as its pronunciation. Such a blithe, lyrical sound!
Soi-disant (adj.) — Steven
When I came across this word, I was instantly hooked, both for its meaning and its pronunciation—it’s always fun to sound a little French!
Vicissitude (n.) — Daniele
- The quality or state of being changeable: mutability
- Alternating change: succession
It sounds exactly like what it means—and I love that the English language has such a beautiful word for such a colloquial concept, “ups and downs”!
Wanderlust (n.) — Rachel
- A strong desire to travel
- Strong longing for or impulse toward wandering
It so accurately describes the feeling of an intense need to travel, this tug toward the road. It simply captures very well the meaning of a feeling that can be difficult to describe.
Wonderful (adj.) — Jen
- Unusually good
It’s my favorite word because it makes me think of marvelous things!