My 10 favourite English words

Hello and welcome back. It’s now proper autumn here in northern Italy, the time of herbal teas, roast chestnuts and new students. No wonder it’s my favourite time of the year! ๐Ÿ™‚ To celebrate this amazing season, today I’m going to write something OT, which was inspired (copied?) by this blog post.

I find it such a nice idea, that I actually would like to pass it over to you and see your lists. That’s why at the end of this post I am going to “nominate” a few people, inviting them to do the same on their blog if they like. If you are not on the… ehm… nominee list, feel free to write your list anyway, and maybe link it in a comment below.

Since it’s October (the 10th month of the year), I am going to pick 10 English words that I really like because of how they sound, their meaning or spelling, or just because.

1- niggardliness: the quality of being niggardly, i.e. ungenerous with money, time etc. I simply love this unexpected word, how it sounds and how the first time I read it, it made me think about anything but meanness.

2- enamoured: having a liking or admiration for; being filled with love for. This is obviously an old French or Latin derivative. I like it both for this reason, and because it reminds me of how English and Roman languages can sometimes love-hate each other.

3- equanimity: calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation. I simply don’t think any other language has such a nice word to express this concept. This says a lot about the people who speak English as their first language…

4- blimey: exclamation to express surprise, excitement or alarm. Do I really need to explain why this one is in my all-time favourite list? ๐Ÿ˜€

5- gewgaw: a showy thing, especially one that is useless or worthless. The word says it all, I wonder what’s its etymology…

6- wry / wryly: using or expressing dry, especially mocking humour; twisted into an expression of disgust, disappointment or annoyance. As for equanimity, this word says a lot about the people who “created” it. It is a concept I don’t think I could express as well in any other of the languages I know.

7- bumptious: irritatingly self-assertive. This is one of the many – ous adjectives (presumptuous, hideous, pompous, callous…)ย  used to describe negatively someone or something, which makes the English language so expressive.

8- notwithstanding: in spite of, nevertheless, although. I bet we can’t find another language with such a long conjunction. 15-letter word, 500 points on the Scrabble board (as Eddie Izzard would say).

9- fluffy: of, like or covered with fluff; frivolous or silly. Fffffffantastic!

10- topsy-turvy: upside down or in a state of confusion. Onomatopoeic words are my favourite, but unfortunately we don’t have many in Italian. Luckily English is full of them (as is Mandarin Chinese). This one in particular might not qualify as an onomatopoeic word, but when I heard it for the first time I knew exactly what it meant.

And the list could go on and on. English can be a lovely thing, uh?

Here are my nominees:








I can’t wait to read your lists!

6 thoughts on “My 10 favourite English words”

  1. Davinna Artibey

    Hi Giulia! I’m honored to be nominated. What a fun idea. I had never heard of gewgaw or bumptious.

    Since I don’t have a blog and just started a combined M.A. ELT / Delta program I don’t think I’ll be able to rise to the challenge. I’m barely keeping my head above water at the moment. Thank you for the invitation.

    By the way, I was an exchange student in Cesena for a year when I was a teenager and fell in love the roasted chestnuts they sold on the street. Haven’t had any as delicious since!

    Hope your Delta studies are going well. Good luck with them!

  2. Andrea Eisenberg

    Guilia, some of those are quite British and not used much in the USA. The word niggardly has bizarrely come under fire by people here who don’t like that is sounds too much like “the N-word”, the unacceptable racist word. Guilt by association! Ridiculous, eh?
    Inspired by our recent election, some words I’ve been favoring: bellicose, narcissist, misogyny and sociopath.
    The election results notwithstanding, we shall try to retain our equanimity in these topsy-turvy times.

Care to comment?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from The Mast-Head

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading