Saturday, June 25, 2011
In the "OBSTREPEROUS" article I mentioned that I like small words. I once used "smarmy" in class and the instructor said he'd never heard the word--but he said it in a self-confident manner--to let me know that he doubted it being a word. I said, "It's a perfectly good Anglo-Saxon word." He responded, haughtily, "And what might it mean?" I answered, "Unctuous." One of my classmates groaned. The instructor said, "Then you should have used unctuous because obviously more people know unctuous than smarmy!" The groaning classmate said, "I don't know either one!"
In 2004, a woman who had had work published in the local newspaper and also had a vanity-press book published was volunteering at our political headquarters. She heard my use of the word "vet" to describe investigating candidates. She said, "I've never heard that word used like that." I told her that the word had been used in that context for many years. She continued, "And I'm a wordsmith." I will give her credit: the following day she came in and said she had looked up the word and said that since she was politically active she couldn't believe she hadn't heard the word used previously. I asked, "How about WONK?"
She and I did not have any other contact until 2010 when I was a guest at a SPRING FLING party; I remembered her and when we spoke, I assumed she remembered me. She was the moderator for some games to be played. One game was called SPRING FLING and one had to submit words pertaining to Spring which started with the letters of S-P-R-I-N-G F-L-I-N-G. The catch: one only received points if nobody else had the word. For the letter "S" I chose the word "scabiosa" and nobody else had that word so I received a point; for "P" I chose the word "plumeria" and nobody else had that word, so another point for me. For the letter "R", I had "ranunculus" and suddenly the moderator said, "I know you NOW--you're that Sue Raypole!" The ladies who had invited me began laughing along with me! There I thought I was unforgettable!
Some one-syllable words I love: