Thursday, December 31, 2009

Y Word of 2009: Broomy

Keeping in mind that perhaps the y-est of them all is syntaxy, this year's winner--edging out waffly, smouchy, porphyry, corduroy, firry, and squicky (these the unofficial quarter-finalists)--is broomy.

Broomy happens to be one of the few spoken words of the year's lot, and so had immediate ear sense. In print, it gains, I suppose, something by its association with heather and the like.

I doubt Bernard Berenson would like this word.

While mulling over this year's candidates, I recalled a dinner many years ago with a publisher. We were having dinner, and the waiter set down our meals and said "Enjoy," before walking away. The publisher looked at me and said, "I hate that word, 'enjoy.'" I was taken aback. Every now and then I had met the morality-bound word objector, but this was the first time I had encountered someone who objected to a word on aesthetic grounds. (The publisher might have been objecting to the phatic speech but I think he really was objecting to the word itself.)

Wordy people being who they are, his opinion of enjoy may have changed by now. In time, my opinion of broomy might change, as well. For the moment--and the next thirteen minutes--it's tops.

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