words are funny (or not)

November 17, 2008

Words are funny. Well, not ALL words. Some are totally NOT funny.

Like, say, the word “group” isn’t funny. Wait, I take that back, remember when Fezzik says “I’ve been specializing in “grwoops,” fighting local gangs for charity, that sort of thing?” THAT was funny.

So I guess ALL words CAN be funny. Other words are funny just because. “Poop” for example.

I find some words too horrible to say out loud. For example, I HATE the word “ointment.” Is there an uglier, ickier, grossser word in the English language?

Well, yes, yes there is. That word is “nostril.”

The only way you could make that worse would be to say “I need to put some OINTMENT on my NOSTRIL.” That would be worse.

Kim hates the word “moisture,” although, me, not so much. But, I can see her point.

Some words are a pleasure to say. “Syphilis.” Just rolls off the tongue. “I’ve got syphilis.” Okay, now it’s not as nice, but if you just SAY the word, then it’s nice, isn’t it?

Some words POP. Like “onomatopoeia.” I LOVE that word. Or “synecdoche.” Why do you spose words you learned as an English Lit major are so wonderful to say? “Synecdoche.” Who cares what it means, it just POPS.

Some words are HARD to say. I mean, there’s the obvious ones, like “nuclear.” That one is IMPOSSIBLE. But what about “viralent.” I mean “virilent.” Wait, no, I mean “VIRULENT.” See? And I can go back and EDIT.

Some words I hate just because of what they mean to me, like “inappropriate.” For some reason I used to (never anymore) get that said to me a LOT. I’ve NEVER liked that word.

I love words that get mispronounced ALL the time. It’s like a little test. Quick, say “hyperbole.” Or “mischievous” (only 3 syllables). Or “realtor” (clue–there’s only ONE a). I’ve heard an older gentleman at church use the non-word “emacitated” on 3 separate occasions now. Do you think I should tell him?

Or, or, there is too much, lemme sum up. My favorite is “Strategery.” Okay, I’ve never heard a real person say that, but it’s awesome.

Other words are just puzzling. Like “hermaphrodite.” For the longest time I thought that was the Greek goddess of sex. Awkward.

40 Responses to “words are funny (or not)”

  1. andy Says:

    what about irregardless? that’s not a word people!!!

  2. dug Says:

    but andy, regardless of how you feel about “irregardless” as a word, you rarely hear anybody mispronunciaticize it.

    and it rolls of the tongue. in the right hands, it’s a pleasure to listen to. those right hands are almost always either brazillian or italian.

    there are others i left of, of course. i wish people who aren’t quoting “the 3 amigos” would just stop using the word “plethora.” we need a moratorium. and no more “cornucopia.” consider those words retired.

  3. bikemike Says:

    i love to recordificate on my dvr. ah, bush, what’ll we do without him?

  4. tonks Says:

    How ’bout paradisiacal, patriarchal and jewelry, or would that be paraDICEical, patriartical and jewluhree? So tough. Synecdoche is one of my faves too, as is thrurple, which cracks me up every time I say it. It’s one my kids made up b/c it’s so funny-try it and see if you can say it without laughing.

  5. KanyonKris Says:

    Good list.

    Moisture USED to be OK, even though it does sound bad like ointment and nostril. When it gained an urban female meaning it got icky. I don’t pray for moisture anymore. To avoid it I say precipitation instead, but that’s an ungainly word so I usually say rain or snow or just plain water.

    Another word that comes out weird (weird is one too) is wire. It just kind of buzzes in your mouth. Say it in a mirror and watch all the contortions your mouth makes trying to form that little word. Say it over and over and it sounds downright alien.

    Dang, I need to retrain myself to say “hyperbole” and “mischievous” properly. Thanks for mentioning those. I like to think I have been able to fend off most Utah pronunciations, but looks like a few got through. Yes, I add the ee on the end of hyperbole. But doesn’t it sound more playful to say miss-chee-vee-us? Irregardless (grin), I will comply.

    I have a hard time saying arterial sclerosis.

    Do you hear people say “accordinated” (coordinated)? It bugs my wife so I used to say it (and irregardless) to tease her, then it started to stick, gah! I think I’ve retrained myself, but I still slip up.

    I love strategery. The SNL writer who came up with that deserves a comedy award.

  6. b_banks Says:

    Dude, I looked up the word “synecdoche”, read the definition 5 times, and I still don’t know what the f*ck it means.

  7. Rob (dug's brother) Says:

    I LOVE the word “moist”. Mostly due to association. I had a friend years ago who would have to itch her ears for a few minutes whenever someone would say it.

    I said it a lot.

    That reminds me of when Stan Marsh and Kyle Broflovski sang only portions of “Come Sail Away” to Eric Cartman in the car. He HAD to finish the whole thing.

    Can’t resist that stuff.

  8. Rob (dug's brother) Says:

    and does anyone else have problems saying the word “Entrepreneur”?

    I get it right like one out of every 4 tries. and I even practice.

    Definitely a problem. definitely. definitely.

  9. dug Says:

    kk, stop saying wire while you look in the mirror. the thought creeps me out.

    brandon, ME TOO! it’s one of the things i love about the word.

    rob, two things. first, i’m pretty sure the “friend” you tortured was kim. it was, wasn’t it?

    second, please STOP USING ITCH AS A VERB. your friend would SCRATCH her ears because her ears had an ITCH.

    glad i could clear that up.

  10. Rob (dug's brother) Says:

    By the way, the friend I’m referring too wasn’t actually Kim. She came along as an added bonus later.

  11. fish Says:

    Grunt. Really under-utilized, in my opinion.

  12. forgingahead Says:

    One of my favorites: Crepuscular

    I too looked up synecdoche – the pronunciation was lodged in an dusty corner of my English major brain but the definition was lost.

    Wikipedia has a good example:

    Where a part of something is used to refer to the whole:

    * “The ship was lost with all hands [sailors].”
    * “His parents bought him a new set of wheels [car].”

  13. Olivia Says:

    Secretion is worse than either moisture or ointment in my opinion.

    My friend gave a taxi driver in Taiwan that as his American name. He practiced and practiced while we were in his taxi, “Secretion…Secretion…Secretion.”

    I’m sure the tourists he drove around after that loved it when he introduced himself. “Hello, my name is Secretion.”

  14. Steve Says:

    Being a physical therapist I get to hear and try to pronounce some fun words. Desensitization is always interesting.Neuromuscular just rolls out. The one that always comes out different from patients is the Rotator Cuff. anything from Rotor cup to rotary cup and in between. Atherosclerosis isn’t so easy either. I do like the word Corollary though it is often misused. never heard of syndecdoche. Buttocks is just an awkward word. wow, say awkward word in the mirror, better than wire.

  15. Mocougfan Says:

    I have 2 for you. One previously mentioned.

    Patriarchal. There is only one T in the word. I actually spelled it out for a youth on the chalk board yesterday trying to make my point. In a kind way of course.

    Second is Excuse Me…. usually comes out more like
    ‘scuse me.

  16. dug Says:

    olivia, i’m torn. on the one hand, i say the word “secretion” to myself, and i think of what it means, and i’m a bit creeped out. more than a bit.

    on the other hand, like with “syphilis,” i kind of like the way it sounds. i’m not saying i want to name a child “secretion.”

    but maybe a dog.

  17. bikemike Says:

    how about pustule? i’m sure one of these showed up on an early episode of the original Star Trek.

    i like to make sure none of these show up at the salad bar at Ruby Tuesdays.

  18. Olivia Says:

    “Here Secretion. Good boy.”

  19. KanyonKris Says:

    Maybe you like secretion because it reminds you of Ryan Seacrest.

  20. lin Says:

    One word I think is funny – spork.
    One word I hate – flesh.
    Oddest mispronunciation I’ve heard – instead of Specific, a woman I used to work with constantly said Pacific. Like the OCEAN. It used to drive me crazy, the way she would completely leave off the S at the beginning of the word.

  21. Rick S. Says:

    You had me at “Group”

  22. JB Says:

    Dug, I strateegerize on the golf course all the time…that’s when you hit the “safety” club off the tee and promptly hit it out of bounds and your playing companions comment, “nice strateegery”.
    Buttocks makes me laugh….especially when delivered Forest Gump-like.
    It does bug me when golf is used as a verb, it is a noun.

  23. VA Biker Says:

    Respectfully submitting 2 words:

    Bogus word 1: “nother” instead of “another” or whatever else was intended.

    Bogus word/expression 2: “could care less” instead of “couldn’t care less”.

  24. Steve Says:

    If you have a 2-3 year saying the word it automatically makes it cute or funny. When explaining where the baby is in their pregnant mother we would tell them the truth and use Uterus instead of “tummy” or “stomach”. It would almost always be pronounced “ooterus”. Cracked us up.

  25. mtb w Says:

    I don’t like it when a speaker drops the “g” from “ing”, although sometimes I do that when I am pallin’ around with my friends. Just sayin’.

  26. VH1 Says:

    Say worcestershire sauce 5 times really fast. Now that is funny!

  27. dug Says:

    vh1, the proper way to say that is “wooster.”

    that’s not as funny.

  28. mtb w Says:

    But yelling “woohoo” while slamming a shot is supposed to be fun (but maybe not funny), at least that’s what women tell me. I mean, as a guy, I wouldn’t try it. Uh, I think I’ll stop now.

  29. KanyonKris Says:

    I like “wooster”, much easier to say, but I thought the British slur it into “wurshtishure”.

    I’ll see your hermaphrodite and raise you an anthropomorphite. I like the word anthropomorphic.

    Wikipedia says there’s a synecdochic metaphor.

  30. Steve Says:

    Shall we venture into midwestern slang ya’ll. I’m fixin to rustle upsome grub. you’ins are in for a treat.

  31. Jonnie Says:

    How about the word “mature”? Do you say it like it’s spelled or do you say “Machure”? Always hated that word!

    dug I really need you to clear this up for me!

  32. dug Says:

    jonnie, the dictionary says this:

    Main Entry: ma·ture
    Pronunciation: \mə-ˈtu̇r, -ˈtyu̇r also -ˈchu̇r\
    Function: adjective
    Inflected Form(s): ma·tur·er; ma·tur·est
    Etymology: Middle English, from Latin maturus ripe; akin to Latin mane in the morning, manus good
    Date: 15th century

    as for me and my house, we say machooer.

    interestingly, wickionary online gives the definition and etymology of the word, but no pronunciation.

    i like that. live and let live.

  33. How about Unthaw. My mother-in-law freaks out if anyone says it at her house. I try to drop that one when ever we visit.

  34. Kathy Says:

    I hate it when sports announcers say “tournament” wrong. Everyone knows it’s turn-a-mint!

  35. Jot Says:

    espresso: There is no X.
    wolf: There is an L there for a reason, so you don’t sound like you’re calling it over when you scream in terror.

    Words that are near impossible to spell:

    My new favorite word, because you would swear it is made up but is not:



  36. Eric Says:

    Dumpster. I think this is a proper noun, though. Not sure if they count.

  37. VA Biker Says:

    This is the on-line dictionary I always use, complete with a pronunciation .wav file. (Sorry, dug.)


    They have multiple files available for alternate pronunciations, if applicable.

    This is a good resource for someone like me who is unable to decipher by the hexing pronunciation gazetteer half the time.

  38. Mary Says:

    And my kids thought I was the only one with this serious affliction! Here are a few of words that cause that horrible screeching sound in my brain (plus the new ones I have from reading your blog):

    luscious, moist, crisp, louse. I just noticed the fact they all have the “s” factor. hmmm

    Favorite words are hyperbole and epitome. They were my favorite long before Brian Regan used them in his new act.

    I bet you have a bunch of new followers from fatcyclist. Another new blog to add to my bookmarks!

  39. VaLene Says:

    I’ll have to agree with you on the “ointment” word. My ugly sounding word is yogurt. While it’s not hard to say, it just sounds ugly. I like the taste. I like the texture. But saying “yogurt” just doesn’t sound like something you should eat. My pet peeve would have to be the mispronunciation of “especially.” That occasional person who says “expecially” might even get corrected.

  40. Not that I’m totally impressed, but this is a lot more than I expected when I stumpled upon a link on Delicious telling that the info here is awesome. Thanks.

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