“Words! Words! Words!” Eliza Doolittle sings in My Fair Lady. She wants Professor Henry Higgins to ‘show me’ how he feels. And it was Oscar Wilde who said: “I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”
I think writers are born with an attraction to words. We are always being told to ‘show’ the reader action without telling, yet we must use mere words to do both. So the search is always on for just the right word that expresses what we want to convey.
When I came across an article talking about a few unusual words, I knew I had to share a few with readers. I’m not sure I’ll be using them anytime soon in a mystery, but they are fun to think about.
GNOMIC: Nope, not those little guys with the pointy hats who have become so popular at holiday time recently!
Gnomic is an adjective, from the Greek, and in the early 19th C. was quite popular when desiring the nature of short, rather pithy maxims. It refers to things that may be enigmatic too, or ambiguous. EX: His speech was full of gnomic riddles.
EUPHONY: This one is Greek, too, and was first used in the 17th century as a noun to denote something pleasing to the ear, and refers to an especially harmonious combination of words (something we writers yearn to achieve, I suspect). EX: Some abbreviations came about for ease of speech and a sense of euphony.
CRINKUM-CRANKUM: This noun is from the mid-18th C English. “Crinkum” along means a wrinkle or crease in something’s surface. “Crankle” from the Latin, jeans a bend or twist
Together it means broadly something fanciful, or something full of twists and turns, or is delightfully elaborate. EX: Her historical house’s exterior was full of cranium-crankum.
While it could refer to Victorian architecture, it could also apply equally well to a mystery!
Readers, do you have any obtuse or favorite words euphonic to your ear or otherwise, that you are fond of using?