Words for the Week: Z


Hello, folks! Welcome to the final episode of Words for the Week, which has happened every Sunday, for twenty-six Sundays in a row. I know, I am amazing. I have so many books full of great words, and I so rarely have an excuse to delve into them. So I’ve been putting together a small selection of these lovely words once a week. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have. For the final time, this week’s words begin with ‘Z’. 

Zaftig or zoftig (adjective): 1. Full-bosomed; 2. Having a full, shapely figure; buxom. Derived from Yiddish zaftik ‘juicy’. 

Actually not sure how I feel about this word, so I’m offering it up for comment. Thoughts? Do we like?

Zakuska (noun): Russian hors d’oeuvre, served with vodka.

I don’t drink so this probably isn’t for me, but I just love the way the word sounds. Zakuska. All sharp edges and sibilance. Love it. 

Zwodder (noun): Somerset. A drowsy, stupid state of body or mind. 

To quote David: “It well expresses the state of mind of a lexicographer who reaches the end of letter z.” His words, not mine, though I have to say I feel a certain amount of sympathy.

Zawn (noun): Cornwall. Vertical fissure or cave cut by wave action into a coastal cliff. 

I love the way this word sounds like the rock itself has yawned open against the pressure of the ocean. It feels powerful, inexorable. 

Zwar (noun): Exmoor. Crop of grass to be mown for hay. 

It’s a wide word, somehow. And oddly similar to zawn, though I can’t come up with any satisfactory linguistic connection between the two things. It feels like the end of summer – which is when hay is mown, right? Ugh, I’m such a town girl. I should know this. I live in the Home Counties, for heaven’s sake. (Say hello to the most middle-class thing I have ever said.)

This week’s words were sourced from Foyle’s Philavery, collected by Christopher Foyle; Landmarks by Robert McFarlane; The Disappearing Dictionary by David Crystal; The Phrontistery.

3 thoughts on “Words for the Week: Z

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