Hennessy's View

Words I Miss

I don’t know what gets the blame—political correctness, pop culture, declining understanding of the subtleties of language, or just time—but I miss some words. I wish people used them more often.

Spat—and the past of other verbs that end with “-it.” Instead of “spat,” I hear only “spit” used for any tense. “He spat on me,” lends an air of dignity that “he spit on me” lacks.

Spittle—another victim of the ubiquitous verb. Spittle is a noun. “The umpire recognized the foreign substance as the pitcher’s spittle.”

Lend—a verb eaten by its noun cousin, loan. “Lend me a dollar,” says the intelligent young man.

Grand—Holden Caulfield destroyed this fine, old word. “We had a grand time at the party.”

Shindig—still pops up now an then, but not enough. Too many parties; not enough shindigs.

Shenanigans—once used to describe inappropriate behavior; this excellent word exists only on the hunter green awnings of semi-Irish sports bars in every city in America. Let’s take it down from the awning and into our conversations.

Gal—The other night, I used the word “gal” in a sentence, and my wife asked, “how old are you?” Gal has a cool, Sinatra sound to it. “I saw Joey out with some gal last night,” piques interests much faster than “I saw Joey with a girl” or “woman” or “chick” or “on a date” or any other word you’d care to substitute. “Gal” says as much about the speaker as it does the object. People who say “gal” drink scotch and smile a lot.

Tomfoolery—What a fine, fine word. Tomfoolery will get you hurt, while shenanigans will hurt others.


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