Onomatopoeia, gee it's good to see ya!
June 12, 2004 3:53 PM   Subscribe

If you don't like dictionary posts, look away, NOW!
But if you like to play with words, the dictionarians at Merriam-Webster have announced the winners in their poll for the Ten Favorite Words for 2004:
defenestration, serendipity, onomatopoeia, discombobulate, plethora, callipygian, juxtapose, persnickety, kerfuffle and flibbertigibbet
Also, a list of runners-up with more of my personal faves: oxymoron, copacetic, curmudgeon, conundrum, euphemism, superfluous, and of course, Smock! Smock! Smock!
[more inside] Via vidiot.
posted by wendell (40 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mr. Vid put out the challenge to use all the Top 10 words in a sentence, so:
A plethora of acts of defenestration, and their shattering onomatopoeias, juxtaposed in apparent serendipity, caused a kerfuffle that totally discombobulated the persnickety, but nicely callipygian flibbertigibbets.

In the spirit of the same, I hope all further comments will include at least one of the Top 10.
posted by wendell at 3:56 PM on June 12, 2004

That's quite the plethora of commas used in that sentence, wendell. I hate to say it, but that will probably cause a kerfuffle with the persnickety grammar nazis.

On preview: kerfuffle not a word? Stupid spellcheck!

Also, looking at the definition, callipygian is an awesome word. English has words for everything!
posted by graventy at 4:02 PM on June 12, 2004

I, for one, have never understood why onomatopoeia is not pronounced how it's spelled.

I also don't understand why it's defenestration. Shouldn't really be, using the proper latin prefix, exfenestration... or simply: fenestration.
posted by psmealey at 4:04 PM on June 12, 2004

I had a dream in which someone said to me, "But if that's true, it's just a palimpsest. It's just palimpsest after palimpsest in a ruined garden," and I had to look up palimpsest when I got up. Heh.
posted by Tlogmer at 4:14 PM on June 12, 2004

I must admit that I have this tendency, when left unedited, to do long run-onnish sentences - with excessive punctuation ( commas, dashes and especially parentheses) to attempt to break it all up into bite-sized pieces.

Yes, it's discomboluating.
posted by wendell at 4:23 PM on June 12, 2004

My favorite is "kerfuffle". It's a good example of the 2nd sense of onomatopoeia, "the use of words whose sound suggests the sense".
posted by smackfu at 5:17 PM on June 12, 2004

My favorite is "kerfuffle". It's a good example of the 2nd sense of onomatopoeia

Not really. The sound of the word "kerfuffle" does not in any way suggest the sense of it.
posted by kindall at 5:25 PM on June 12, 2004

I loathe the word "plethora". As a result, I seem to see it everywhere. There's something about the sound of it that really bothers me. And it's one of those words used by writers obviously looking to pad their vocabulary. Every time I see it I writhe with discomfort.
posted by aladfar at 5:55 PM on June 12, 2004

Can you have a plethora that isn't veritable?
posted by wendell at 6:13 PM on June 12, 2004

"Plethora" is so 10th grade. Just like "epitome."
posted by scarabic at 6:14 PM on June 12, 2004

I've always liked "onomatopoeia" and "defenestration."
posted by SisterHavana at 6:26 PM on June 12, 2004

The sound of the word "kerfuffle" does not in any way suggest the sense of it.

I disagree. But that's no nevermind.

Where is that last series of links supposed to go, wendell? Or have I been missing something?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:28 PM on June 12, 2004

Galoshes, Eskimo, beluga, mukluks, bouffant and a plethora, (2.7meg wav file), of others used better than ever by Radio Free Vestibule in the song Bulbous Bouffant.
I taped and sampled that from Dr. Demento many years ago. SFW.
posted by geekyguy at 6:30 PM on June 12, 2004

er, this should work better. Sorry.
posted by geekyguy at 6:37 PM on June 12, 2004

I hear the "Kerfuffle Shuffle" by DJ Persnickety really puts the "disco" in "discombobulate".

And speaking of defenestration...
posted by arto at 6:59 PM on June 12, 2004

But where's coccyx? I call shenanigans!

(Of course, the best source for fun vocab words will always be the deliriously delicious curses of Captain Haddock.)
posted by Guy Smiley at 7:26 PM on June 12, 2004

Just what the hell does "smock smock smock" mean? Google turns up nothing useful, and your link doesn't work.
posted by interrobang at 7:39 PM on June 12, 2004

Shouldn't really be, using the proper latin prefix, exfenestration... or simply: fenestration

I think fenestration would be the act of taking someone outside at ground level and hurling them through a high window into a building.

I want to be King of somewhere someday so's I can be King Xeny the Defenestrative, or Mad Xeny the Defenestrator. Though King Xeny the Discombobulator has a certain panache too, as does Ethelxeny the Discombobulated.

And what do they have against absquatulate?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:17 PM on June 12, 2004

posted by quonsar at 8:21 PM on June 12, 2004

In lists of beautiful words, mellifluous always makes the grade, being cool, descriptive and onomatopoetic.

But we're talking about "popular" words. Not cool words. Of course, popularity makes cool people cringe.

Onomatopoeia, juxtapose, and plethora are not cool words, period. (I'm an authority on words cuz I'm old and well-read. If I've read them a thousand times, they do not make my top the list. )

Defenestration, although I've encountered the word quite a bit, still would make my top ten, because of its specificity vs. actuality ratio. YnowhatImean?
posted by kozad at 8:22 PM on June 12, 2004

I hate onomatopoeia, gives me AP English flashbacks.
posted by tetsuo at 8:23 PM on June 12, 2004

quonsar, "smock smock smock" is a major feature of the National Lampoon yearbook parody. It's got to predate Calvin and Hobbes. What's it mean?
posted by interrobang at 8:29 PM on June 12, 2004

that's where it started here, of which wendell speaks. i've never seen the natlamp yearbook parody, but i did my part to help stamp out demeaning plebny in our time.
posted by quonsar at 8:36 PM on June 12, 2004

(Smok Smok Smok) in the National Lampoon Yearbook is used in the same way as "Oh, you kid!" is used in 1930s parodies, by the way.)
posted by interrobang at 8:59 PM on June 12, 2004

i would've included pejorative and atavistic, but otherwise great list and runner-ups! i particularly like juxtapose and kerfuffle. persnickety is nice too :D
posted by kliuless at 9:06 PM on June 12, 2004

No top ten word list is complete without transmogrify.
posted by rowell at 9:42 PM on June 12, 2004

I actually learned the word fenestration before defenestration. Architecture school, and all that.
I was kind of confused because at first I thought defenestration referred to removing the windows from a building.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:27 PM on June 12, 2004

1 gmail invite for the next poster to praise dictionary posts!
posted by crunchburger at 11:36 PM on June 12, 2004

yay for dictionary posts! the veritable plethora of them!
posted by blindcarboncopy at 11:42 PM on June 12, 2004

please send first name, last name, abd email to must_have_gmail@unc.edu, bcc!!
posted by crunchburger at 11:44 PM on June 12, 2004

going once...twice....
posted by crunchburger at 11:55 PM on June 12, 2004

Yay for the dictionary post and the plethora of comments!
posted by geekyguy at 12:01 AM on June 13, 2004

This is very supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
posted by moonbiter at 1:49 AM on June 13, 2004

how credulous and propitiating.
posted by kliuless at 7:28 AM on June 13, 2004

All of my favorite words these days are short ones. 'Smock' is excellent of course, as is 'damn' (as an expression of delight: 'hot damn!' or, as in the words of the poet Lawrence: "Damn, she fine.").
But 'idle' is probably my favorite word this year.

Four letters, two syllables, like 'lazy' the word's pronunciation is more work than the concept should allow. It's just like how 'palindrome' and 'onomatopoeia' are not examples of their meaning, but in the case of both 'lazy' and 'idle' this fact is actually expressive, making it more profoundly ironical. In the case of 'lazy' it seems to suggest a kind of passive aggressive malice in the subject. 'Idle' is more charitable, suggesting perhaps a mere mechanical or deliberate cease in work.
posted by wobh at 10:52 AM on June 13, 2004


Sorry about the smegged links in the second part of the post...
Try this:
Also, a list of daily runners-up that include some of my all-time faves: oxymoron, copacetic, curmudgeon, conundrum,
euphemism, superfluous, and of course, Smock! Smock! Smock!

And, for the record, Smock! Smock! Smock! was first popularized by alleged TV legend Steve Allen, but he spelled it "Schmock" (it still sounded like "smock")
posted by wendell at 4:17 PM on June 13, 2004

wobh, I agree about 'lazy' and 'idle,' and, in the same spirit I would include 'heroin,' which you can say without taking the trouble to move your lips.
posted by kozad at 4:50 PM on June 13, 2004

Thank you for filling in a missing piece of the puzzle, wendell.
posted by interrobang at 12:25 AM on June 14, 2004

Didja ever see that Kids In The Hall sketch where a boss has to call one of his workers in to his office because he (the worker) has latched on to the word "ascertain" and uses it in place of every second verb or so?
posted by Capn at 8:02 AM on June 14, 2004

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