Words beyond “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”

Have you ever noticed that some words are just fun to say? Okay. So you may not have given the subject much consideration now that you’re a serious adult. Seriously! Seriously?

What makes a word fun to say? Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins taught us the fun of saying (even singing), “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (which MS Word spellcheck corrected for me). And on a related note, what child doesn’t love singing “Chitty, Chitty Bang, Bang?”

I know some of you are rolling your eyes, and about to click to something more mainstream. After all, my better half is a salesman and his favorite word is “sold.” What makes a word fun to say can be the memory associated with the word. Or, maybe the word (or phrase) is funny because of a situation. One phrase that always brings a smile to the salesman in residence is, “This is my happy face.” Odd? Maybe. But for those of you who saw Tommy Lee Jones in the movie, “Man of the House,” you may recognize this quote from the football game.

Ignore the meaning of a word. Forget the memory associated with a word. Just think about the sound the word makes. What words are just fun to say?

Simplicity. Sometimes the best sounding words are a single syllable. One-syllable words can be wonderfully descriptive, and create action. Doctor Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat” is a prime example of fun with simple words. Here are a few of my favorite one-syllable wonders:

  • Tweet, Twit, and Twinge
  • Zip, Zap, Zoom (All great individually, but even better as a three-some)
  • Ping Pong (Fun alone, and better together)
  • Irk
  • Gaffe
  • Twang (In the south this has an optional second and third syllable)

When one is a Lonely Syllable, Try Two.

  • What could be better than a word that almost makes you twitch your nose to pronounce? Hmm. Maybe twitch should be added to the one-syllable list.
  • Give me a g with galore, guffaw and gyro. Both pronunciations of gyro are fun, but I particularly like the more scientific approach here.
  • The p’s are well-represented with: preppie, peppy, and prattle.
  • Words ending in y like snooty and groggy definitely make the list. Maybe I should review the names of the Seven Dwarfs.
  • Twaddle and Tweedy with their “twuh” beginnings can be interesting too.
  • What about Wayward or Vignette?

Three Syllables. Moving up the chart, three syllable words are just long enough to capture attention. The symmetry of three in writing has long been recognized as a persuasive tool, as well as a way to make a point memorable. The world of entertainment is filled with three’s. Remember that literary masterpiece, “Three Blind Mice.” What about “Three’s Company,” an almost ancient sitcom originally featuring John Ritter and Suzanne Somers? Let’s not forget an even older television show, “My Three Sons.” And what young male doesn’t love the “Three Stooges?” Some say “three’s a crowd,” but then again ménage a trois is fun to say as well. Time to change the subject. How’s this for a transition? As long as we’re in a French state of mind, how about “ding dang dong” from “Frère Jacques?” Do you have a favorite three syllable word? Try saying the following out loud:

  • Fiddlesticks
  • Integer (does anyone remember math?)
  • Macaroon (cookie with calories galore)
  • Macramé (lace popular in the 70s)
  • Sentiment (emotion)
  • Sequential (consecutive)
  • Sequester (separate)
  • Seraphim (highest order of angels)
  • Titration (scientific process)
  • Titular (nominal)
  • Vichyssoise (cold soup)

When more is Better, Try Four. If you’re imbibing, you may want to skip this next section. In fact, I almost stopped typing before the fours. But, an additional syllable brings a whole new sound to the page. And with four, there’s even ice cream. Here are just a few that stand out:

  • Felicitous (delightful)
  • Filibuster (military adventurer or delay tactic)
  • Persnickety (fussy about details)
  • Periphery (boundary)
  • Periwinkle (plant or snail)
  • Tenacity (obstinacy)
  • Tutti Frutti (ice cream flavor)
  • Virtuoso (scholar or artist or master)

For those of you whose eyes made it this far, I feel the company of an endearing word geek. But, instead of leaving you with a word, I’ll leave you with a song (well two songs). After all, that’s where we started this word fest. As you go about your day remember the Walt Disney songs “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang.” Let me know when those tunes leave your head now!

Signing off.

LK Greer




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