Wonderful Words

Peter Medak’s film “The Krays,” a gritty, real-life tale of infamous UK gangsters, identical twins Ronald and Reginald Kray, is a scintillating depiction of depraved criminality and marvel of lyrical dialog. The music and editing ain’t so bad either. Played with aplomb by twins Gary and Martin Kemp of the 1980s band Spandau Ballet, the actual Kray boys were born in war-torn London and by the 1950s had risen (fallen?) to become underworld crime kingpins. A bizarre aspect of their very intimate interrelationship was a supposed telepathic capability each had with the other.

One memorable scene in “The Krays” takes place when the twins are enrolled in an all-boys primary school under the tutelage of a crusty instructor who deals with his charges with sarcasm and disdain. The instructor demands of one dullard in class, “Give me a wonderful word.” When the kid hems and haws, the instructor pushes harder. “Come on, there’s millions to choose from.” The kid just looks at his shoes. The instructor presses on. “Who else can give me a wonderful word? I crave a wonderful word. My whole body yearns for a wonderful word!” He turns his attention to the twins, seemingly skeptical that they will adequately satisfy him. “Krays! Save my life, give me a wonderful word,” to which the mind-melded boys respond in unison, “Crocodile.”

“Crocodile? Yes – that is a wonderful word.” I love that scene. And I agree – Crocodile is a wonderful word. In fact, I have a long list of wonderful words which I offer below. The pitiful reality is that of the several hundred thousand (millions?) words in the English language, Americans rely on a vocabulary that probably numbers in the mere hundreds. It’s time to reanimate some of our more wonderful words.

1) Sinecure
2) Pecunious
3) Obsequious
4) Encomium
5) Perspiscacious
6) Lachrymose
7) Eponymous
8) Micturate
9) Reniform
10) Luluna
11) Anodyne
12) Carapace
13) Lugubrious
14) Solastalgia
15) Sibilance
16) Caparisoned
17) Soubrette
18) Rictus
19) Trenchant
20) Quotidian
21) Cynosure
22) Trepanning
23) Sybarite

Here are the meanings scrambled up – how many can you match with the wonderful words above?

A. Wealthy
B. Obedient or servile
C. Half-moon shape on fingernail
D. A position that requires little or no work but provides a salary
E. Kidney shaped
F. A tribute
G. Giving one’s name to something
H. Urinate
I. To dress another person in rich clothing
J. Inoffensive, or anything that relieves stress
K. Given to weeping
L. A fixed or unnatural grin or grimace, as in horror or death
M. Flirtatious girl
N. Bony shell covering some or all of the dorsal part of an animal
O. Dismal
P. Distress that is produced by environmental change
Q. Voluptuary, sensualist
R. Having a ready insight into and understanding of things
S. Ordinary, happening every day
T. The state of a hissing sound
U. Something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance
V. Forceful, effective, and vigorous
W. A surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull

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