Words of the Week


Hello again, folks! This is my new Sunday thing – I’ve got so many books full of great words, and I so rarely have an excuse to delve into them. So I thought I’d give you a small selection of these lovely words once a week, in the hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. And for a little more interest, I’m going through the alphabet! So this week’s words begin with ‘C’. 

Cockalorum (noun): A little or young cockerel; or a bumptious little person; or boastful talk, crowing.

This is a great example of a word that sounds exactly like what it is. Doesn’t it? You can just imagine a strutting young cockerel, or a boastful young man.

Crepuscular (adjective): Relating to twilight, dim; or denoting animals that are active or appear at morning or evening. Alternative: crepusculous.

Splitting the relevant animals into two categories evokes two further completely gorgeous words: ‘matinal’ (dawn) and ‘vespertine’ (dusk). So this is a beautiful area of language generally, but I do particularly like ‘crepuscular’ – it sounds like someone skulking in the half-light, waiting for the full cover of darkness before they creep off to do their shady business.

Cragfast: Mountaineering. Unable to advance or retreat on a steep climb; stuck, usually requiring rescue.

I think ‘cragfast’ deserves to make the leap from a mountaineering term into a figure of speech. We’ve all felt like this to some degree – stranded on a cliff-face, unable to see a way back down to the safety of the ground, straining for someone to help you.

Capadocious (adjective): Devon, Yorkshire. Splendid, excellent.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, anyone? I just think this is such a good word, and woefully underused in a world in which we overuse enthusiastic language – I say ‘fantastic’ or ‘perfect’ or ‘brilliant’ for anything from a good pun to two colleagues having a matching space in their diary for a meeting. So I could definitely do with a new one for when I’m feeling a bit more whimsical.

Cafuné: Brazilian Portuguese. Closeness between two people – for example, to run one’s fingers tenderly through someone’s hair.

This is a beautifully gentle word for a gentle action. It expresses an undemanding kind of affection, a love that doesn’t ask for anything, only the quiet joy that comes from expressing it.

And I think it’s a lovely word to end on. See you next Sunday for another Words for the Week! And as always, please do link me if you feel inspired to write your own list!

This week’s words were sourced from Foyle’s Philavery, collected by Christopher Foyle; The Greeks Had A Word For It by Andrew Taylor; Landmarks by Robert MacFarlane; The Disappearing Dictionary by David Crystal

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