The Most Beautiful Words, Ctd

by Zoë Pollock

A reader brightened my day with the above sketch, which amazingly mentions "sausage" as a "good woody sort of word." As a child my family had a store of dog treats called Snausages which I instantly latched onto (in a verbal sense, not in the epicurean) so that I instantly thought of it but was too ashamed to admit. Other readers offered up their favorites, both foreign and domestic. One writes:

My first boyfriend was Filipino, and he told me the word "boondocks," and its shortened "boonies," came from the Tagalog word bundok, for "mountain."  In the Philippines, bundok has become a colloquial way to refer to rural, out-of-the-way places, and in America we use it in exactly the same way. (Apparently the word migrated to English through the American military presence in the Philippines in the early 20th century.)

Another writes:

"Mamacita" is in heavy usage among all my ladyfriends (all from Florida, but only a couple are really latina). Also 'ciao', which down in Fla we didn't pick up from Italy. It's very common in Argentina and Chile, I'm told, so my cafe customers in college imparted that one to me (especially the older gentlemen professors teaching Spanish and Latin American politics).


[M]y two favorite words in the English language are both fairly commonplace. In fact, I hear one of those words virtually every single day: "evening." I love the simple, quiet poetry of that word, which I (correctly or incorrectly) hear as a gerund: the day even-ing into night. To me it evokes an ancient, maybe even pagan description of a mysterious but predictable and harmless daily process. It's simply a beautiful word, and I think an under-appreciated one.

My other favorite word is "watershed." I can't explain exactly why, but I think it's just a handsome, sturdy, benevolent-sounding word, and all the more pleasing because it gives no particular indication of what it means if you're coming across it for the first time.

And another:

Moist, charm, murmur.

Sounds like a wonderful evening to me.