words / writing

‘Whiffling’ and Other Beautiful Words

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I love words. I have a post on the beauty of words here, and lists of them buckleyhere and here and here. William F. Buckley was renowned not just for how much money he made in his lifetime, but how well-spoken he was. He could pick the right word for every situation. His The Lexicon by William F. Buckley Jr. was one of two he penned on words, out of the thirty non-fiction he wrote in his lifetime.

So, yeah, I think words are important and fun. My friend Adam at The Wonder of Whiffling takes it to a whole new level, though. He has searched the world for fascinating words. Here’s one of them:


When photographers attempt to bring out our smiling faces by asking us to “Say Cheese”, many countries appear to follow suit with English equivalents. In Spanish however they say patata (potato), in Argentinian Spanish whisky, in French steak frites, in Serbia ptica (bird) and in Danish appelsin (orange).

whifflingHis book, The Wonder of Whiffling, is a tour of English around the globe (with fine coinages from our English-speaking cousins across the pond, Down Under and elsewhere). Here’s what he says about it:

Discover all sorts of words you’ve always wished existed but never knew, such as fornale (to spend one’s money before it has been earned), cagg (a solemn vow or resolution not to get drunk for a certain time), and petrichor (the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell). Delving passionately into the English language, I also discover why it is you wouldn’t want to have dinner with a vice admiral of the narrow seas, why Jacobites toasted the little gentleman in black velvet, and why a Nottingham Goodnight is better than one from anywhere else. See more on http://www.thewonderofwhiffling.com.

My daughter’s in the Navy so I’m going to find out why she should have dinner with a vice admiral of the narrow seas. I’ll be back…

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