To me, some words are visual. If you will bear with me, while a “visual word” seems like a dichotomy, certain words look like their name. To me, these words evoke an immediate mental image. I’m not talking about the spoken word; I’m talking about the way the word looks visually. The formation of the letters just “look” like their meaning, to me.
One example is “quiet.” To me the combination of those letters just “looks” quiet, if you will. Most of the letters are the same height. Only the “q” and “t” stick up a little. Quiet is, well, a quiet word.
Another example is “angry”. To me, there is something “angry” looking about that word. It’s the scrunched up visage of the a, followed off by the rather arrogant flip of the tail on the “y.”
The word “flail” has all those tall letters that seem to just scramble for purchase – the “f” and the two “l”s.
There are more but I can’t think of them presently. When I see one I can recognize it but trying to pull one out of the air is difficult.
Rhythm is also one of those words that evokes a mental image when I see it. Rhythm is just, well, rhythmic. It just flows off the page. When I see it I want to just start moving, swaying to an inner beat.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “rhythm” is a noun, and was first coined in the 1550s. It is derived from the Latin word “rhythmus”, which means “movement in time,” and from the Greek word “rhythmos” meaning “measured flow or movement.”
Interestingly, rhythm is the longest word in the English language without a vowel. In this case, the “y” would become the vowel sound. I think that is why it fascinates me so much. Not only does it flow like it’s meaning, but it has no official vowels. Just a rented one.
Lastly, I learned something new while doing a Google search on this topic. The word for words that sound like their meaning is “onomatopoeia,” like “crackle.” I knew this. But there is actually the word “onomableva”, which is an unofficial term for words that look like their meaning. Like “bed” — it has a headboard and footboard and a soft “e” in the middle. In Googling this word, I found that there are other people that are also fascinated by this phenomenon.
That’s it for Monday Word of the Day. I’ve already started a list of words to use and I hope to be able to stretch it out over the 52 weeks of the year. I realize not everyone is fascinated by words like I am, but having been an avid reader since I was five years old and discovered the wondrous world of reading, it is fascinating to me. I hope you find it to be, as well.