Seraglio

6 October 2007

I’ve always had a fondness for words that goes beyond utility and poetry. I love how certain words have a way of rolling off your tongue, or of delightfully capturing exactly what a sensation or an object is like. When I was in high school we had an English teacher (Ms. Cadag, I wonder if she’s still a Miss until now?) who would have a segment called ‘Weird Words’, where she’d teach us one rarely used word per week. I don’t remember all the words she used, but I still recognize them when I run into them. I distinctly remember discalceate (to take off your shoes) because she used as an example one of my classmates (Elyn, who later became valedictorian) who had a habit of taking off her black shoes in class, which she hated. It was in law school that I developed (or was forced to develop) the habit of being precise: not just with understanding legal terms but with phrasing arguments in general– there’s a reason why statutes are worded in certain ways, such that only certain interpretations are allowed from them. And, geek that I am, I learned to like phrasing arguments, turning them over and over in my head, not for the sake of argument but simply because there’s nothing like the satisfaction of a well-crafted sentence that says exactly what you want it to say. (And too, there’s nothing like the thrill of conversing with someone who understands the nuances of your sentences, or who understands grammatical irony without pointing it out). But anyway, here are 100 of some of the loveliest words in the English language, the kind of words that are a joy to use, the kind of words around whose syllables you can wrap your tongue, or simply the kind that make you sound so cultured when you use them. (If only we could use words like these everyday.)

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