The idea of having a favourite word seems ludicrous. Especially for someone like me, who does not really believe in having favourites of anything. And, just to make matters worse, I hardly ever use the word that best qualifies for this dubious title. What then are my reasons for holding the word in such high esteem?
I should make it perfectly clear at the outset that I have never set out to find a word that I like more than any other. Rather than emerging from a formal assessment process, applied rigorously to all of the words in my (albeit narrow) vocabulary, the word has achieved its coveted status unobtrusively by seducing me with its understated charms over a long period of time.
In line with my well-established practice of doing things backwards, I decided to identify the criteria after I had chosen the word. I consider myself a bit of an expert at putting the cart in front of the horse. Precisely what factors have I applied ex post facto?
As you have already learned, the word scores low on utilisation. But there are more important indicators of quality than frequency of use. After all, we can easily tire of something if we do not restrict our exposure to it. One complementary pair of factors can be found in the aesthetic appeal of the word and the degree to which its sound matches its meaning. The closely related property of onomatopoeia (what a gruesome word that is!), however, does not apply in this case.
Then there is the theme that the word represents. As you might imagine, this is an important consideration for The Knot Garden. We must also take into account the virtue of elegant simplicity – The Knot Garden tends to avoid long, complicated words – often used merely for effect – preferring ones with fewer syllables.
My nominated word gets a high rating when measured against these yardsticks. However there is a further, decisive factor to consider. The word possesses a peculiar characteristic that, as far as I can see, is not shared by any other words of similar length. Unlike the word queue, for example, eighty percent of which is composed of vowels, my favourite word contains none. All six of its letters are consonants.
I am sticking my neck out a bit here, as I have not carried out the brief research necessary to establish the uniqueness of this property. But I am reasonably certain that I stand on firm ground. And, if I am wrong, then my position remains unaltered, for it is still a rare trait.
Should I ever feel inclined to apply the principle of favouritism to words, my chosen one expresses a universally important concept that can be found in both the human and the natural worlds. And it is phonetically alluring. The word is rhythm.