Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Amusing Myself with Words

On one of the email forums I belong to someone posted a very offensive, definitely not-quilt-related (NQR) piece of spam to the list. The list is supposed to be used for quilt-related discussions only and stays pretty true with the occasional drift “down the tangent highway” as my friend Keri would say. Politics and religion are strictly forbidden.

Periodically we forget ourselves and post inappropriate things, which usually starts a literal firestorm of finger-shaking, heavy sighing, and even some nasty scolding. Although I usually restrain myself from commenting and delete those items I find irritating or offensive, today I got up the nerve to post a mildly scolding comment – which brings me to my amusement.

Those who know me well know that I am a word freak. I am an avid reader, newspaper devourer, and merciless Scrabble player. I am the person who finds the typo in every TV commercial (like the ROSS Christmas commercial that spelled “stationery” with an “ary”), restaurant menu (it’s “Caesar” salad, not Ceasar!), and billboard sign. I’ve also learned over the years that it’s not particularly good manners (or very nice) to point these things out when I find them. But I digress.

In thinking up a suitable word to describe spam (the email, not the food), the word “dreck” instantly came to mind. Now, being the word freak I am, I looked up the spelling at dictionary.com to make sure I got it right – and had a really good laugh at the definition:

dreck – noun, Slang:

1. excrement, dung.

2. worthless trash; junk

WOW! Now if that isn’t the perfect synonym for spam, I don’t know what is. I was especially amused at “worthless trash; junk.”

Another word that popped into my head was “drivel.” You don’t hear that word much these days unless, perhaps, you run with a very literary crowd, or someone who is British. Drivel’s definitions were also appropriate:

drivel – noun, verb (esp. British):

1. saliva flowing from the mouth or mucus from the nose; slaver (eeewwww!)

2. childish, silly or meaningless talk or thinking; nonsense; twaddle

Twaddle?! Bet you don’t hear that word everyday, or any day for that matter:

twaddle – noun

1. trivial, feeble, silly, or tedious talk or writing.

So the next time you are looking for an appropriate word to describe some spam, try dreck, drivel, or twaddle.

I’d better wrap this up before it slides down the twaddly slope. Is that a word? You bet it is!


Deb Geyer said...

I've always loved the word "twaddle"!

catsmum said...

twaddle, drivel, piffle [ another goody ] are all marvelous words but there is a connotation to them that trivialises the impact of Spam. I vote for dreck. Such a marvelous harsh sounding word. Even if you're unfamiliar with it, you just KNOW what it means from the sound of it in your mouth :]