When I was in middle school, my writing teacher asked me to compose a list of favorite words. "Why?!" I asked, equally intrigued as perplexed by the task. "Because it will be the backbone of all other things you write from now on," she told me. "You should begin one today, and add to it for the rest of your life." It was a suggestion I took to heart, and I've been keeping that list ever since. At first, it was a mindless task, and some of my early choices reflect the pleasurable busywork of their pursuit: crush, pumpkin, cavernous, languish. Years later, though, List maintenance evolved into a very real and fascinating meditation on the meaning and diversity of language. My List became very important to me, but it never occurred to me that other people might think it was important, too — might even keep their own List, in fact!
Enter The Favorite Words Project, a publishing experiment that collects people’s favorite words and publishes them on bumpers stickers and T-shirts. Shape & Nature Press, the design collective behind the idea, call their project a "living installation," and hope to facilitate an engaged dialogue between different people through the framework of their favorite words. Since launching in April, the project has attracted hundreds of participants, with favored vocabulary ranging from the happy-go-lucky (peace, silly, etc) to the possibly befuddling (rippy, furkids, and floccinaucinihilipilification !?) to the, erm, slightly sinister (espionage). What emerges from the resulting word-cloud is a distinct portrait of people speaking — about their hopes, their fears, and their dreams. It's an experience neatly summed up by the creators themselves: "People are masters at using words, and all of us people are an interesting group..."
With that in mind, we have to ask: what's your favorite word? Tell us in the comments below!