These Are a Few of His Favorite Words…

I’m a little peeved this evening, as my copy of Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables disintegrated on me. When I picked it up at the used bookstore, it looked to be in great shape. Appearances can be deceiving, I guess. The pages are so brittle they chip if I look at them the wrong way. Fooey.

I have resorted to printing out the remaining chapters in order for me to enjoy them at my local drinking establishment. There are more words on one page anyway. I can read the book much faster. The pages also roll up nicely in my hand in case I need to bat a drunk on the head.

What I’ve noticed with Hawthorn is his love for repeating 50-cent words like the guy who learned it two seconds ago. There he spends all day trying to fit it into every sentence possible. This may be me being a bit hard on the author, but it feels amazingly unnatural. Sometimes it becomes obnoxious. Three words come to mind, when I think of Hawthorne’s work. Below is a breakdown of them all.

The three favorite words of Nathaniel Hawthorne:

Lugubrious: mournful; especially : exaggeratedly or affectedly mournful

Considering his fiction was of a Gothic style, this word makes perfect sense when found in his writing. He was writing about all sorts of morose thoughts and feelings and applied them liberally to his characters. The only problem is the word makes me think of Kentucky Fried Chicken. On the other hand, KFC can be seen as a mournful place. Touché.

Unctuous: full of unction; especially : revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, and false earnestness or spirituality.

For some reason, I get very irritated when Merriam-Webster uses a derivative of the word I’m looking up to describe itself. If I knew what the derivatives meant, I wouldn’t be looking up the word. I would be able to guess at that point. Aside from being an awkward word to pronounce, “unctuous” makes me think of a unwanted relative. The uncle with a flatulence problem. “Aw, mom, do we have to invite Unctuous to the picnic this year?”

Festoon: (n) a carved, molded, or painted ornament representing a decorative chain or (v) decorate, adorn; also : cover

Everything festoons in Hawthorne’s world. From green beans to bed detail. My problem with it is I think of pantaloons and spittoons. Pants for dippin’. There’s a market for that, I think. How many chaw-cravin’ Summer Stock actors are there?

Are there any words to which you’re quite partial? Do they end up in your writing often?

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5 thoughts on “These Are a Few of His Favorite Words…

  1. badarthistory says:

    My word is “ubiquitous.”

  2. kerbey says:

    I will have to use “unctuous” the next time I see a Prius driver festooned in yoga pants. I use “fecund” a lot, but I worry that deaf people might misread my lips and think I said “vegan,” which I might, with much disdain. One word I need to say more is Will Ferrell’s “scrumptrilescent” from SNL. That applies to sunsets and amaretto sours.

    • Fecund’s a good one. I do have to have to run a second take on it, though. My eyes start to read “fecal,” and then I think of monkeys… and their fecal matter.

      Will Ferrell’s James Lipton impression was a riot, and I’m a huge fan of James Lipton. I guess a good measure of a true fan is being able to laugh at the jokes. Since your scrumtrilescent applies to both sunsets and amaretto sours, it would only seem natural to increase the consumption of both. Well, don’t literally consume a sunset. That might burn a little more than the sour.

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