5 January 2019

Words

Just the other day, I was listening to a radio interview. The interviewee was recounting a personal story. It doesn't really matter what the story was about. What I noticed was his use of a particular word that I have hardly ever used. That word was "crestfallen". He used it three times in relatively quick succession. It's clearly one of his pet words. I think we all have them.

"Crestfallen" is an excellent word. It suggests how in life we might be riding along on the crest of a wave and then all of a sudden we're thrown off it. We are "crestfallen". Next time this happens to me I will be telling everybody that I am "crestfallen".

I often visit a very helpful word website called simply Thesaurus.com . It's especially useful when exploring synonyms. However, recently it threw up a word that I had never heard of before. That word was "petrichor". Do you  know it? "Petrichor" means - a pleasant smell that frequently accompanies the first rain after a long period of warm, dry weather. 
Like me, you will have experienced it - a sweet and slightly metallic odour that only arrives when rain has at last fallen to quench the earth. "Petrichor" was coined as recently as 1964 by two Australian researchers who were investigating the phenomenon. It has always been one of my favourite smells - along with a newly tarred road and the aroma of freshly baked Yorkshire puddings lifted from a hot oven.

Next time rain falls after a long dry spell of a weather I will stick my head out of the door and fill my lungs with the petrichoral air before shouting to Mrs Pudding - "Come and breathe in the petrichor honey!"

Crestfallen, that spurned lover stepped out into a newly dampened summer's morning  which was fragrant with petrichor.

Are there any great words that you have noted recently?

23 comments:

  1. Crestfallen is a word which so well defines the feeling it describes. I'd never heard of the word petrichor (neither had the computer's dictionary) but I could not agree more with your words in relation to it. Oddly, and I am not suggesting your usage is incorrect, I would have used 'which' and not 'that' in your blue sentence.

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    1. Oh, you mean the second "that". Thank you. I will change it henceforth - which is another great word!

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  2. I know I use the same words over and over again. Sometimes I, too, use a thesaurus or, to be honest, the one online.
    One of my favorite words that is not used a great deal these days is "splendid." Such a plain and descriptive word! But I think I will try to use "crestfallen" more. You're right. It is a very good word. And "petrichor" is...a splendid word!

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    1. Splendid is one of my pet words - along with marvellous and anthropomorphism.

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  3. How about vellichor - the strange wistfulness of used bookstores? My favourite English word though is serendipity.

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    1. You have taught me a new word today Sue - "vellichor". Like "petrichor" it is, I think, a hard word to use effectively.

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  4. My friend and myself were discussing "lost" words recently. We both agreed that many words which were common as children, we no longer hear.
    My favourite is "slutch".
    My mother used to say"Dont go playing in that field and getting all slutched up!"

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    1. That's another word I have never heard before. Until you explained it I thought that "slutch" would be a noun reserved for loose Lancashire lasses.

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    2. Haha. How did I know you'd say that........

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  5. The next time I am a bit fed up I shall say that I am a little crestfallen, so much nicer than depressed don't you think.
    How about 'Hobbledehoy' I expect you came across a lot of these when you were teaching.
    Briony
    x

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    1. That is another word I have not encountered before. I expect that plenty of them support Brighton and Hove Albion.

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  6. The petrichor in the Sonoran desert is particularly delightful. I think it's from the wet sage.

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    1. Living in an RV, I expect you are pretty sensitive to Nature's aromas.

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  7. Petrichor is a new word for me, even though it has been one of my favourite smells since childhood. I even remember saying so to my Mum when I was little, and she replied that to her, it was the smell of wet dust and she did not like it at all.
    With a lot of my reading being originally from the 1850s to the first quarter of the 20th century, I come across many English words not much in use anymore. Do you know persnickety?
    An English pet word of mine is indeed.

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    1. I don't wish to be pernickety but in England we prefer "pernickety" over the American form of the word - "persnickety".

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  8. I won't answer your question but word search takes us to many interesting places. We get a history of the word plus. I live in a dry area and sometimes after a long dry spell we get to breath some petrichor. It looks like google doesn't know how to spell the word.

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    1. Google's knowledge of words contains many gaps.

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  9. I like schadenfreude

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  10. "Words"
    Bee Gees

    "Smile an everlasting smile
    A smile could bring you near to me
    Don't ever let me find you gone
    'Cause that would bring a tear to me
    This world has lost it's glory
    Let's start a brand new story
    Now my love right now there'll be
    No other time and I can show you
    How my love
    Talk in everlasting words
    And dedicate them all to me
    And I will give you all my life
    I'm here if you should call to me
    You think that I don't even mean
    A single word I say
    It's only words, and words are all
    I have to take your heart away
    You think that I don't even mean
    A single word I say
    It's only words, and words are all
    I have to take your heart away
    It's only words, and words are all
    I have to take your heart away..."

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    1. I always loved that song Lee. There's a sincerity about the lyrics.

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  11. I always thought crestfallen came from the plumage (crest) of a bird whose crest had slumped - and I was (to my utter surprise, I might tell you) right!
    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/crestfallen

    My two favourite niche words are both German :
    backpfeifengesicht which means 'having a face that is slappable' - and I think we can all immediately think of a few people to whom this would apply, and
    verschlimmbessern - making things worse when trying to fix things.

    Together with schadenfreude, it seems the Germans have a very good understanding of the human psyche!

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  12. Petrichor is a very peculiar word. It sounds more like a brand of automobile fuel additive. Crestfallen is a good word, too, and according to my trusty blog search I have used it exactly once (while blogging, anyway) since 2006!

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.