I’ve been spending a fair bit of time in this space focusing on what’s happening with the use and misuse of words and what’s going on with the English language in general. Probably time to move on.
But not quite yet. I have discovered, interestingly (to me at least), that I am a logophile, not a lexophile.
Seems that a logophile is a lover of words. I would have thought a logophile would be a lover of trademarks or symbols – like Nike’s swoosh or McDonald’s golden arches – that identify products and brands, but I would be wrong in thinking so.
A lexophile, as it turns out, refers to person who loves using words in imaginative ways, as in puns or word puzzles or word games. Someone who delights in noting that writing with a broken pencil would be pointless or that falling into an upholstery machine could result in a person being fully recovered – that’s a lexophile. While I do groan appropriately at clever punning and enjoy a good game of Scrabble, what I really am is an appreciator of words for their own value and, I must confess, for using them correctly (at least most of the time).
I came to learn this difference when researching the word “couple” as a singular or plural noun, something that came about when I saw an anniversary notice in the newspaper noting that the couple “were married in 1948” and that the couple “have 17 grandchildren.” Was the plural verb the correct usage, I wondered.
I still don’t know. Turns out “couple,” as a noun, is singular in most uses. Some sources indicate it should be treated as a plural noun for individuals going to be married but in the singular for long-married individuals. But not all sources agree. Grammar will surely drive you crazy.
I muse about such things.
There are a number of words I’ve come across in recent months that I’ve enjoyed encountering, though not always for the right reasons. I smiled when I saw a cousin’s recent Facebook post about celebrating her anniversary, referring to her husband as her “sole mate.” Of course, I knew what she meant, but my inner grammar nerd noted that as this is a second marriage, he couldn’t in fact have been her sole mate, if that’s what she had really meant – though he certainly should be her current singular spouse (what with polygamy being illegal and all). A good guy, he is truly her soul mate, I should point out.
I have been having battles with the autocorrect function on social media platforms – some of which turn out pretty funny. I recently wrote the word “Ivar’s,” as in the Seattle restaurant, and it autocorrected to Icarus. Pretty sure the mythological Greek character who flew too close to the sun had nothing to do with the subject matter of the message.
In recent texts, I intended to write “chocolate,” but I misspelled it, and autocorrect provided me with “chili latte” instead. “Okey-dokey” turned into “okey-donkey,” and a fun term, “poopsie,” became “poop die.” There are a couple of autocorrects that are not appropriate for a family newspaper.
And in my wandering around word world, I also came across a list of not-often-used words that should really make their way into our vocabularies. They sound so good that they are just crying out to be used.
There’s “backlotter,” a noun referring to a person who raises poultry or rabbits on a small lot, usually one’s backyard. Also, “bedward,” an adverb meaning toward one’s bed – as in, “I’m sleepy and heading bedward.” There’s also “miscook,” a verb meaning to ruin something in cooking, a kitchen-based disaster we’ve all pretty much created or been subject to.
How about – “emacity,” a fondness for buying things (so much better than “shopaholic”); “funambulist,” a tightrope walker; “fankle,” a Scottish word for entangling something; “biblioklept,” a person who steals books; and “pilgarlic,” a bald-headed man.
Words are fun. Useful, too, though I probably shouldn’t dwell too much on them, lest I turn into a logomaniac – (n) a person who is obsessively interested in words.
Oops, too late. And now I move on.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.