A tender circles the cruise ship at Port Stanley, Falkland Islands.
It’s not easy working some words into a conversation. I have few favorites that I can use from time to time and that’s fine. But sometimes a word hangs about taking up space in the vocabulary and never seems to get out much.
As Missicat noted yesterday how often do you get to say “on our way to see penguins?” She’s right. It won’t get used all that often so I’d best enjoy it while I can.
Here’s word that needs to get out more, but it’s difficult. On our cruise we sometimes had to be ferried to and from the ship on tenders. They held around 140 people and depending on lineups and how many people were on shore and when they decided to get back, the wait might be long.
In the Falklands we arrived at the dock a little after 4 p.m. to find a lineup of several hundred waiting to get back to the ship. We had to catch the tide out and the captain wanted us back by 5:30 p.m. We left late that day, but we still caught the tide out so it was okay. That evening at dinner I said we caught the antepenultimate tender.
This simply means third from last. Ultimate is last, penultimate is second to last and ante means before. I’ve been able to use that word maybe twice in 20 years with the second time being that night. It’s not easy to work into the conversation.
Other words are easier. The great English actress Joan Sanderson in an episode of Please Sir used what immediately became one of my favorites: albeit. She loathed fellow teacher played by John Alderton. When he wanted to say something to the staff she said they’d hear what he had to say “albeit nothing.”
But my favorite word, and quite possibly the most useful word in the English language, is alleged. I fell hard for this word during an episode in the first season of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Mary’s apartment was robbed and she had to identify her belongings. On seeing her TV she exclaimed, “My TV.” A police officer played by Bob Dishy corrected her (paraphrased) with, “Your alleged TV.”
On seeing the contents of her closet she exclaimed, “My alleged clothes.”
Just like Sanderson and albeit MTM’s delivery of the line is what initially sold me on the word. Later on its usefulness to me kept it from being a lexical pretty face.
Writers commonly know some big words. We rarely use them in writing simply because the simple word is often the better choice. I may only use antepenultimate a few more times in my life. Albeit I may use a few more times, but alleged gets plenty of use though not as much as it did when I was covering Provincial Court. I still enjoy it and will keep using it whenever the mood strikes me.
Now the flip side of this would be words I despise. I could write something on them, but then I’d have to use them. Think I’ll give that a miss for now.
What about you? What are your favorite words?
Have you got a word you’d love to use, but can’t get it into the conversation? What is it? Tell me. Here’s your chance to use it in the comments.
Nik Morton at BEAT to a PULP
6 hours ago