Saturday, June 24, 2006

A big, bad word

Occasionally I come across a new word and think, why? Brobdingnagian is such a word. It doesn't look cute in a sentence and it isn't any fun to pronounce. It's not even particularly useful, as all it means is, "really, really big." If you want to say something is really, really big, just go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot easier, and people won't look at you and go Huh?

Those who have read Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels will remember Brobdingnag as the country of giants. That was in contrast to Lilliput, a place where all the people were very, very small.

"Lilliputian" is a cute word. It's fun to say. I sometimes use it when I want to convey that something is really, really small. But that other word? It's just plain dumb.

Technorati Tags:

9 comments:

Audra said...

I don't know. You say it enough times in a row and it begins to have a ring to it. Try varying your voice for each syllable and you can really have fun. Just make sure you're alone or the men in white jackets may come visit you. ;)

Chris said...

Also from Swift/Gulliver...

Yahoo: fun to say either as the Yah-hoo of internet fame or Yay-hoo, which carries more insult.

Houhynhynm: Not fun to spell (had to copy and paste), not fun to say, not fun to work into cocktail chit-chat.

Brenda Coulter said...

That's the problem with Swift's words. They're too hard to spell and pronounce. Which is probably why I didn't hear anyone bandying about the word "houhynhymn" at the last party I attended.

MaryF said...

When I was in middle school, they called me Brobdingnagian because I was so tall, and my best friend was tiny, so they called her Liliputian.

Mean, but in a smart way ;)

Brenda Coulter said...

Well, at least your friends were reading good books. But why are kids so mean?

Lynne W. Scanlon said...

Hey, thanks for reminding me about this word! You sent me to the dictionery to see how I would incorporate Brobdingnagian, the adjective, into a sentence, rather than Brobdingnag, the noun. Very interesting. How about: "His Brobdingnagian dog stood guard at the gate?" Gulp. Kind of says it all and sounds quite "literary," as well, (sniff, sniff) even if it is an ugly word, I think.
Lynne AKA The Wicked Witch of Publishing

Love your blog!

Brenda Coulter said...

Thanks, Lynne. It's nice to see you here again.

Anonymous said...

my favorite big bad word would have to be floccinaucinehilipilification. It means "the act of counting as worthless."

Brenda Coulter said...

Um, thanks for sharing. I think.
;-)