From Dito Sevilla. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com, follow him on Twitter @DitoDC.
I love words. Each one with it carries a meaning all its own and then all over again, in the context in which it is used, it can reaffirm a point, or draw attention to a contrast.
Words can be funny and sexy, they can be hateful or loving. The infinite combinations one can create with them allow for great displays of creativity and self-expression. The most common combinations often define us. The more complex phrasings set us apart. Esoteric or erudite meanderings among the cacophony of the masses open doors of curiosity, or slam those of ignorance.
With so many words (both the Global Language Monitor and a recent study jointly conducted by Google & Harvard estimate the total words in the English language to exceed 1,020,000) there are bound to be favorites.
Over the years, decades and centuries words have come in and out of fashion. Some phrases have been developed and then been rendered outmoded, while some have hung on. With the passing of another generation, perhaps curiosity will lead mankind to question the phrase “telephone ring,” wondering why it’s called a ring at all. Long gone are the days of a bell indicating a caller was on the line… and then, what line?
Not having the space, forum or inclination to conduct an exhaustive account of the evolution of the English language, much less the expertise or resources with which to do it, I think I’d prefer to dumb it down and share some of my favorite words. Before I do, a word on the word “favorite.” I still don’t know how to define it. Of course I know what it means, but its definition doesn’t do it justice. Doesn’t favorite also mean most watched, most used, most loved, most enjoyed? Is your favorite movie the one you have seen the most, or the one you could watch the most? Is it the movie with your favorite themes, or most favorite actors? The possibilities are endless.
By the way, the basic definition of the word favorite is “regarded with special favor or preference.” I will proceed.
Delicious. Delicious is my favorite word.
Again as with favorite, the exact definition of delicious is a matter of linguistic debate, and because of that it affords its users the great joy of versatility (and who doesn’t love versatility). Delicious is the word I use the most. Among its definitions are Merriam Webster’s “affording great pleasure,” and “appealing to the bodily senses especially of taste and smell,” or Old English’s “delightful.”
My first memories of the concept of delicious are tastes and smells of course, but then as years passed, more things became delicious. As a child, delicious meant birthday cake and Halloween candy. Delicious defined the smell of clove-crusted Christmas ham and fresh baked monkey bread. Then suddenly the smell of my aunt’s different perfumes as they filed in one by one became part of the delicious memory. Delicious was the feel of my grandfather’s cashmere sweaters, a luxurious vacation from the wool suits that were his uniform, a departure from the cotton that was my wardrobe.
Delicious was my dog’s hot breath, and the crush of cool grass yielding to bare feet on a spring morning. Years later, delicious was laying atop a cold bed on a hot night, and then months later, sliding into a warm one on freshly ironed sheets. Delicious became the memory of the best days, of the happiest nights.
An entire vacation to Italy was delicious. Buttery leather seats, the rock-hard landing in Rome jarring me to attention, the smell of history in the air, the whip of flags fluttering in the warm wind. It was all delicious. My first meal of “real” pizza, volcanic ooze of fresh buffalo cheese, the heat and crispness of hand wrought crust, the taste of a 300 year old, 500 degree oven fueled by charring Tuscan wood, the incense of the Vatican, the cold mysterious feel of the stone, the crimson silks- delicious, delicious, delicious. It lingers on. Even the memories are delicious.
My first kiss, a moment full of confidence, fear, nervous energy and years of desire was all satiated with one delicious mouthful. Years more awakened in one delicious instant. Sex: delicious.
There then, highly pleasing to the senses. What more could I ask a word to do? What more could I demand from the word that reminds me of the happiest moments of my life. Delicious moments.
What’s your word?
When asked by Reader’s Digest what their favorite words were, the candidates weighed in.
President Obama’s favorite word… “grace”
Mitt Romney’s favorite word… “indomitable”