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  • Writer's pictureGareth Williams

What are your favourite words?

One of the pleasures of writing a novel is taking the time to pick the perfect word. I rarely manage it and sometimes, I am just hammering on the keyboard to get the plot down. But sometimes, either as the first draft unfolds or later, in the editing process, I find myself searching for that elusive word. Often, I don't find it but once in a while I do.

So, what are your favourite words? It might be the way a word captures a subtle shade of meaning. It might be how a word conjures up a particular feeling or memory. It might be how it sounds or feels as you speak it. It could be the way it looks on the page.

I grew up before computers made searching for synonyms quite so easy. I still have on my desk a hardback copy of Roget's Thesaurus. It has my school badge on the front cover and was awarded to me as winner of the Fourth Form Geography Prize! Sadly, my headmaster, Anthony Eggleston, who signed it in 1980 has recently died. But I think of him often as I use this wonderful book, so well worm that the dust jacket has long since disintegrated.

There is something wonderful just leafing through this masterpiece and letting my eye fall where it may. Let me prove it. Here is one I used the other day (edited) - 763 Petitioner N. suppliant, supplicant, claimant, pretender, postulant, aspirant, expectant, solicitor, asker, seeker, enquirer, advertiser, customer, bidder, tenderer, suitor, courter, wooer, canvasser, hawker, touter, barker, spieler, dun, dunner, lobby, lobbyist, applicant, candidate, entrant, competitor, runner.

I love the way it spans so many shades of meaning - taking you far from your starting point, and in this case including what I was looking for... supplicant.

As for my favourite word, I do love onomatopoeia. Not so much the word itself (let's face it, it's a nightmare to spell!) but words that fit that category such as... flutter, fizzle, hiss, squash, screech, hoot and cuckoo.

If we move onto favourite phrases then my favourite sources have to be Shakespeare, King James bible and the naval argot. A subject for another post, I think!

Why not let me know your favourites?

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