Jennifer Lyon

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022
Weird Word Wednesday

So does a word ever bug you? It may be a perfectly fine word, but when you read or hear it, it twangs like a bad note in your brain? Maybe you think no one says that! For me, one of those words is “guffaw.” I mean who actually says that aside from writers because we’re weird?? I know the word, but I never say it. And my family teases me relentlessly about my vocabulary. I use a lot of words they swear “normal” people don’t use. I think that may be true of most people who read a lot. We just like words, and they have a way of popping into our conversations without us fully realizing it.

But to my ears, “guffaw” is awkward and weird. Sadly, I have written it, I think. But whenever I read or hear it in an audiobook, my brain notes it as awkward.

So my weird word this Wednesday is “guffaw.” What’s yours???

5 comments to “Weird Word Wednesday”

  1. B.E. Sanderson
    August 10th, 2022 at 6:50 am · Link

    I don’t think I’ve ever used guffaw in my writing and only in speaking when I’m being a weirdo. :chortle: I think when writers use it it’s because they’re trying to scrub a crutch word or something. Sort of an “oh, noes, I’ve used the word laugh too much, whatever shall I do’ kind of thing. I can’t imagine guffaw just dropping out of someone’s head onto the page naturally. Unless they’re writing an old-time western. ;o)

    I’m not sure I have a weird word. Sometimes when I’ve looked at a word over and over, it begins to seem weird to me, though. I spent a considerable amount of time staring at the word ABOUT one day because it looked wrong.

    I used a big word yesterday – Superfluous. And the person I was talking to was all like ‘what?’ I said it again, in case she hadn’t heard me, but that wasn’t the problem. The problem was I couldn’t think of any shorter words for what I wanted to say and once she asked ‘what’ I had to try to explain the word I used without using any of the smaller words I couldn’t find in the moment. Derp.

  2. Viki S.
    August 10th, 2022 at 3:01 pm · Link

    I can’t remember the last time I used guffaw ;). I haven’t seen it in any of my reads in a very long time.

    I can’t think of any words that set me off. I’m sure there are several, cause that’s me, but none are coming to mind right now. If one comes to me I’ll put it in Friday’s Five.

    Sure hope you are having a good day!

  3. Jenn
    August 10th, 2022 at 4:32 pm · Link

    B.E., oh I’ve done that where I stare at a word so long, it turns weird :-) However, I’m pretty sure I’ve never used superfluous because I’m unsure of the correct pronunciation. That’s one of those words I know and read without pausing, but never say, LOL.

    I do feel you on not being able to think of an alternate word quickly enough. I’ve definitely had that happen. So we can think of rather obscure words swiftly but no simple replacement words — writers and readers have unique problems :-) Plus we all like words!

    Happy Hump Day!

  4. Jenn
    August 10th, 2022 at 4:34 pm · Link

    Viki, I just heard it in the book I’m listening too, that’s what made me think of it. In the case of this book, the hero narrates audiobooks, so when she used it, it worked and yet I still mentally stuttered when I heard it. Most likely I’m just weird :-)

    Hope your week is going well!

  5. Silver James
    August 11th, 2022 at 12:09 pm · Link

    Well. I have no idea how I missed this post. I kept checking my RSS feed but it never popped up. Gah Which is how I’d write/say guffaw. As a sound more than a noun. And yes, I have used it because sometimes, it’s the only word that succinctly describes that deep, breathy belly laugh that strikes some people.

    Yes, as writers, we often use words that aren’t used by “normal” people in “normal” conversations. Superfluous is pronounced like it’s spelled: su-per-flu-ous. Unless you are from the south, then it’s pronounced: su-per-fa-lous. It’s a good word.

    I, too, am trying to think of weird words but nothing is quickly coming to mind. Wait! Mauve. Which should be pronounced “mawv” but is pronounced “mowv.” What the heck color is it anyway? I mean, it’s basically purple, right? So two things. Pronunciation and why use it? Except maybe to sound snobby? So yeah, I can see using it in a book. Maybe.

    And yeah, I’m glad I got the wild hair to just click over to your site and check for a post, Jen. Ah well. I’ll do that the next time you don’t “appear” as usual.

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