Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Word(s) of the Day

One of the occupational hazards of public radio career is that you gain an overdeveloped appreciation for the way words sound. At least once a day I hear a word that I say over and over again, rolling it around in my mouth, sliding it into conversation whenever possible.

Yesterday before Vermont Edition, Ric Cengeri and I got into a discussion about the word "reconnoiter" (v., to make a reconnaissance), a word he loves so much he tried to take the "re" off and use "connoiter" as well, even though it's not a word.

I countered with my very favorite word, "kerfuffle" (n., disorder, commotion), and spent the next hour struggling to remember my other favorite, "misanthropic" (adj., of or pertaining to a misanthrope, one who hates or mistrusts humankind).

When news editor Ross Sneyd came in the studio with the script for the noon newscast, we asked him his favorite word. He couldn't pick just one right away, but we all agreed that "Ahmadinejad" (as in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) was probably the most audiably interesting name in the news today.

That launched a whole other conversation about words that are fun to say yet a bear to spell, such as "gubernatorial" and "inaugural."

Later in the afternoon, Ross sends me an email: "'Fulminate' (v., to explode with a loud noise; detonate). I just realized I've been fulminating all day on my favorite words. I kinda like that one!"

Later, I sent back: "I LOVE the word 'amok' (n., a psychic disturbance characterized by depression followed by a manic urge to murder). Amok, amok, amok...."

And this morning, from Ross: "'Stochastic' (adj., of or pertaining to a process involving a randomly determined sequence of observations each of which is considered as a sample of one element from a probability distribution). Just learned it during an interview with a scientist. Stochastic. It's just fun to say. Stochastic."

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