Jewish World Review May 19, 2004 / 28 Iyar, 5764

Jim Shea

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Consumer Reports

Words on words: Just call me a bloviating boomer | I don't like the word probe.

I didn't always dislike it, but there comes a point in every baby boomer's life when the word probe takes on a whole new meaning, and your feelings toward it change.

By sheer association, I'm also no longer partial to the word sigmoid.

I don't know if this is common, but I have a whole list of words that, for one reason or another, I have come to hold in disfavor.

Like redacted.

Redacted is one of those Washington lawyer words that gets picked up by the media and beaten to death. Names in reports aren't blacked out, they're redacted.

Give me a break.

Another phony Washington word that made the rounds a few years back was gravitas, which rhymes with demitasse, which should have something to do with a small cup of after-dinner gravy, but doesn't.

Of course, not all highfalutin' words come out of D.C. Take genitalia. Wouldn't it be just as easy to say package?

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There are also words I don't care for because they gross me out. Topping this list would be pus, mucus, feces and snot. Snot is interesting, though, because, while snot bothers me, I have no problems at all with snotty. Go figure.

In this vein, a word that I used to absolutely love but don't anymore is loogie. I feel kind of bad about that, but what are you going to do?

Some of the words I hate I just have to live with because there are no alternatives. Regurgitate is a good example. Where else are you going to go: Vomit? Puke? Upchuck? Barf? Spew? Heave (particularly if it is preceded by dry).

Then there are words I have an aversion to because they just sound painful: cyst, scab, suction, gingivitis, karaoke.

I also have issues with a lot of unrelated words:

Gonad: I don't know what it is exactly, but I'm fairly sure it's unattractive.

Hors d'oeuvre: Too hard to spell and takes too much coordination to type.

Honk: Just not a word one can take seriously.

Bloviate: Haven't felt the same about it since covering politics.

Not to be forgotten are bothersome word combinations:

Flotsam and jetsam: This always gives me a mental picture of the brown and foamy ocean water that laps against a dock and kind of looks like a latte.

Wishy washy: I definitely hate the term, but I keep going back and forth on which word I detest more.

Hokey pokey: I can tolerate pokey but am not all that comfortable with hokey. Plus, there is the question of if that's what it's really all about.

You know what word I really like - onomatopoeia.

Jim Shea is a columnist for the Hartford Courant. Comment by clicking here.


© 2004, The Hartford Courant Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.