Excellent Mediocrity

In my voyage of discovery around the English language I have learnt what my peers seem to consider is an adequate number of words.

However, there are a lot more out there, just waiting to be discovered. I can see them all in a line, jigging about with their hands in the air going ‘Pick me! Pick me!’

When a new and previously unknown word appears on my horizon I like to greet it like a friend. I welcome it warmly, and so as not to forget it – how rude would that be – I like to give it its own identity.

For instance oxymoron. I like oxymoron. It reminds me of a particularly stupid Hereford bull.

What is your favourite word? What does it paint in your imagination?

Picture of a very placid Hereford Bull
Ferocious Hereford Ox(ymoron)

Photo credit: A Polled Hereford bull at The Great British Agricultural Show. Fillongley 2008, by Amanda Slater. Source Wikimedia Commons


  1. I love words, and sometimes the words I find most interesting are ones that are common and apparently obvious. (They never are as obvious as you think.) The word of 2022 at Dictionary.com is “woman”. Apparently it was the word, during the year, that attracted most searches over the longest period. If you follow this link, you can read the full explanation of why they picked it.

    I love the etymology. Woman comes from the Old English “wif-man”. Female man, though it’s not actually an oxymoron. In Anglo-Saxon “man” meant a human person, and wif-man meant a female person. A male person was a “wer-man”. (So werewolf is a man-wolf. Would a female werewolf be, properly, a “wif-wolf”?)

    Wif alone developed into wife, but not originally into “female spouse”. Or, that was one specialised sense. Other specialised senses gave us housewife (mistress of a household), midwife (a “with-wif” – a woman who helps another woman in childbirth), and in combination with a trade – a woman who practices that trade. (Fishwife did not originally mean the wife of a fisherman, but a woman who sold fish.)

    This reply went on for much longer, but I thought I’d better cut it off here!
    Here’s Woman on the Online Etymology Dictioary

  2. Favorite word? Quintessential. I like the sound and rhythm of it. And the meaning is pretty good too. 😉

  3. Angela

    I’m fond of onomatopoeia which describes words that sound like the object. E.g. Flip flop, slap, etc.
    As a Herefordian lass I do take umbrage (another favourite word) with your description of a Hereford Bull though. Docile and placid maybe, but moronic. Never! In fact they made a lot of farmers very rich when they were sold to American breeders. Even featured in a film, The Rare Breed with the adorable Jimmy Stewart 😉

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