GoogleIt Mail IT Print IT PermaLinkMy Favorite Word
09:18:01 AM
Written By : Richard SchwartzCategory : 3. Everything
Location : Nashua, NH

Via Bob Congdon

My Favorite Word is an opportunity to tell the world about your favorite word.

Mine is "asymptotic". Whenever I do a presentation, if there's a way to somehow squeeze it in, I'll do it. It's truly geeky, it has fun but emphatic sound to it, and if you can use it at all, it's always going to be on some important point that you want people to remember. The only problem is that I habitually misspell it as "assymptotic" even though I know that it's an "a" prefix meaning "not", added to the same root as "symptom".

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Comments :v

1. Chris Linfoot09/09/2005 11:26:20 AM

MFW - verisimilitude

Go ahead. Use it in a sentence.

2. Chris Linfoot09/09/2005 11:34:59 AM

OR - fiduciary

Which word happened to be used in the body of that "you just won the British lottery" spam that caused me such anguish earlier today:

3. Stan Rogers09/09/2005 01:26:37 PM

Math terms used mathematically (like parametric and asymptotic) are always good, particularly as they mean something just that much different from what people think they mean.

By the way, the best-ever definition for asymptote:

asymptote. An asymptote is like one of those people you meet at a party who is devastatingly attractive and you just want to get close. You maneuver your way next to them and casually strike up a conversation. Making good time, you get closer and closer, till you're practically knocking knees. In calculus, you just keep getting closer. In the real world, you start explaining your love of partial fractions, they excuse themselves to get a drink, and you see them driving away through the window. An asymptote for the graph of a function is a line sitting in the x-y plane that the graph of the function approaches, getting closer and closer as we travel along the line. Functions that have had one too many may weave back and forth across an asymptote, but still, the further out you go, the closer they get.

(from the UC Davis math department at )

4. Jess Stratton09/09/2005 04:19:46 PM

my favorite: Couscous, for no other reason than it's just so darn fun to say.

That site ROCKED! Do you have ANY idea how much better at math I'd be if I learned it with such great examples?!

5. Esther Strom09/09/2005 05:24:16 PM

All the traffic from this blog must have crashed the ucdavis server- it's telling me the server can't be found.

I agree, though - I would have been much better at math with decent examples. I know Stan has covered this in much detail, but I can't reiterate enough the fact that there are different styles of learning, and just because someone doesn't understand complex mathematics when taught in the abstract doesn't mean they're stupid. So there, Mrs. Perez! (My high school calculus teacher, who told me I should never even be allowed to have a checkbook because I just wasn't "mathematically intelligent".)

6. Esther Strom09/09/2005 05:27:11 PM

Oh, and my favorite word? Onomatopoeia. I just like how it sounds.

7. Stan Rogers09/09/2005 05:41:08 PM

Yes, it trippeth off the tongue gamely, but why doesn't it sound like what it is?

8. Richard Schwartz09/10/2005 12:07:59 AM

@Stan: Great link! I had to hold in my laughter though, because my wife would have asked what I was laughing about and then she would have thought I was a geek if I told her I was laughing about math. Oh wait. She already knows I'm a geek. But the last thing I need to do is make her think I'm a really strange geek One problem with the entry for asymptotic though, though: partial fractions are what convinced me that I could never be a real mathematician.

@All: Those of you who followed Stan's link and found the entry for "callipygian" and followed the suggestion to look it up in the dictionary ( fess up!

@Jess: Couscous! Great word. I always want to say "gesundheit" whenever someone says it. And here's another great food word: "falafel"!

9. Bruce Perry09/10/2005 10:26:07 AM

While we're on food, how about babaganoush? I think that word alone is a poem.

10. Jess Stratton09/10/2005 10:40:39 AM

Bruce, LOL! That's Matt's favorite word. It was said on an episode of "Suddenly Susan" years ago, and that's all it took to become a repetitive staple of our household.

Aside from Couscous and Babaganoush, another memorable one that gets said a lot at my house is our favorite scene from "My Blue Heaven" with Steve Martin, when they ask at the grocery store what he wanted that he couldn't find:

"Arugula. It's a veg-a-table."

11. Richard Schwartz09/10/2005 04:02:12 PM

@Chris: It took me a while, but I came up with a sentence.

"I doubt the verisimilitude, but not the veracity, of Chris' claim that his favorite word is 'verisimilitude'"

12. jonvon09/10/2005 05:22:59 PM

hmmmmm... i have a bunch of favorite words. they are kind of like bands for me, i can't just pick one. i'll have to think this over, maybe blog it.

my favorite math oriented word is oblique. at least that is the one that comes to mind. and i do use it fairly often.

rich embrace your geekiness man! laugh and the world laughs with you brother...

13. Jack Dausman09/13/2005 05:04:59 PM


I always win a round of the game dictionary with that one.

14. jonvon09/14/2005 04:48:48 AM

wow jack, that's a really long word.

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