Words and sounds

I often become enamored of certain words I see while copyediting, and the latest comes from China MiĆ©ville’s novel Embassytown, which I’m working on now: panjandrum.

I love it when the sound of a word and its meaning match up so well. Panjandrum was coined by the dramatist Samuel Foote, which is undoubtedly how it gained that effect.

What are your favorite words with meanings and sounds that match well? Bonus if they’re neither coined nor onomatopoeic.

In my Twitter feed so far we have vexing, splendid, mellifluous, short, appetence, quirk, and melancholy. #wordgeekery

4 thoughts on “Words and sounds”

  1. I wouldn’t say this is a favourite word, but my 4 year old son is vomiting this morning and “puke” seems to describe the violent clench of the stomach muscles and the splat into the bucket really well.

  2. Abyss. There’s something about the way the word “abyss” drops off into sibilance that makes me think of things slipping over the edge on an ocean floor into an . . . abyss.

    btw: congrats on the Mieville. He’s one of my faves.

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