Everyone has a favourite food, a favourite drink, a favourite TV show or band. Naturally, as business copywriters to the world, we at Wordsworks Towers also have a favourite word – crumpet.
And we’re not alone in our linguistic love affair. A survey commissioned by London’s Word Literature Festival, quizzing the public on their favourite words, has produced some surprising results.
Against all the odds, the five-syllable ‘serendipity’ emerged as the nation’s favourite. The word, whose origins stretch back to the 10th century Arabian tale ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’, is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way’.
It’s thought to have swept to victory in the poll because of the simply beautiful way it trips off the tongue. Se-ren-dip-it-y. Ahhhh! Admittedly, it would be a rare day when ‘serendipity’ could be used in a business context – although it would be rather ‘serendipitous’ if such an opportunity did transpire.
Not all of the words highlighted by the poll are quite such a mouthful, though at least two owe a debt of honour to JK Rowling and her rather successful boy wizard. Here’s the full list:
4 = Peace/why
8 = Football/hello/family/muggle**
9 = Compassion/home
10 = Jesus/money
* a broomstick-based sport played in the Harry Potter series
** a term used by wizards in the aforementioned Harry Potter chronicles to describe non-magical people
Apparently, the longest word anyone voted for in the survey was ‘pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis’, which at 45 letters suggests someone, somewhere, was having a laugh. As an unpleasant medical condition describing an inflammation of the lungs, it’s hard to see who’d harbour much affection for pneumonoultra… oh, we can’t be bothered typing it all out again. But if you can memorise how to spell it, give yourself a gold star.