There are some words that I may not use because they are too vulgar. Others I try to avoid because they may offend someone (and I try my best never to offend). And then there are those I won’t touch because I don’t have the gravitas that such words require. Here is a small sample of the many words I can’t get away with saying—or couldn’t utter without giggling:
- ipso facto
- prophylactic (in the general sense of “acting to defend against or prevent something”
Monty Python has a sketch about embarrassing words. Do any of these words embarrass you?
wankel rotary engine
Umm. Not particularly. But then again, I’m a little slow. I think I’m missing a joke here.
I don’t know what Cousin Paul is talking about. No word I can think of ever sounds like another, more embarrassing word. On another note, I would like to tell you that I like to masticate many times during each meal. I hope you will follow my example. Cheerio and goodbye, Sirs!
Ah yes, Jason, masticate should be on the list. In Peter DeVries’s novel Peckham’s Marbles the protagonist has a hard time with the art of small talk, so he has to practice “masticating the tallow.”
Yesterday Earl referred to a bad driver as “a brainless git” and last week he asked me if it’s alright for him to “nick sugar cubes” from the kitchen. perhaps i could get away with saying
“nick,” but “git” may create an ooccasion for the first public stoning in pittsburgh.
Sounds like the boy has been watching too many British sitcoms. :)
Does he pronounce “git” with a hard “g” or a “j”?
I guess I shoulda posted a link. I’m not making this up. I just thought Karl might be interested to know that those wacky Brits had thought of this very thing 25+ years ago. Anyhow, when I was 12, this sketch caused me to ROTFL.
Karl, you disappoint me! You would pass up ersatz? and ipso facto? Would you ever gesticulate? or cogitate? We need words like that just to keep our diet of vocabulary spiced up!
One of my favorite memories of college was an art history prof waxing poetic about the “tintillating tactile sensibilities” of a Ruebens painting. This caused me to ROTFL- the only person in my class to be entertained by that-I think the rest of them were sleeping.
Whoops! I didn’t mean to imply tintinnabulation (the sound of bells) but rather the “titillating tactile sensibilites” – if you know Ruebens paintings, pudgy cavorting females nudes feature prominently – a veritable plethora of titillation.
I can actually recall hearing my dad and/or my Uncle Louie using 6 or 7 of those words in “normal” discourse, which I suppose means that they possessed the necessary gravitas to use them – without even giggling. Would that be a generational thing?
Paul, aha! Now it makes more sense!
Aunt Ginny, I might write those words, but I probably wouldn’t speak them. In the wrong crowd, someone could get beaten up for using words like that. :)
Dad, it might be a generational thing. Or, maybe their voices were deep enough to pull it off. A deep voice can add a lot of weight to spoken words.