Go On, What's Your Favourite English Word?

(edited by Lynne Hand)

What is the most popular word in the English language?  There have been several polls over the years, remarkably (which is a nice word), it would appear to depend, on your personal experiences.   Mother is the most beautiful word in the English language, according to a survey of non-English speakers.

More than 40,000 people in 102 countries were polled by the British Council to mark its 70th anniversary in 2002.

Mother, passion, smile, love and eternity were the top five choices - but father did not even make it into the list of 70 words. But some unusual choices did make the list, such as peekaboo, flabbergasted, hen night and "Oi!"

The top ten were

1.Mother 2. Passion 3. Smile 4. Love 5. Eternity 6. Fantastic 7. Destiny . 8. Freedom 9. Liberty 10. Tranquility

Others in the top 100 were 48. Peekaboo | 50. Kangaroo | 61. Oi | 63. Hiccup | 70. Hen night | 85. Des res

Other words with an honourable mention were: discerning, discern, classy, worldly, and unworldly.

The British Council promotes the learning of English around the world and teaches the language to more than 500,000 people each year. It will be interesting to see the poll in 2034; their 100th anniversary.

It would appear the most powerful positive words made it to the top at the time, to quote "All of us have a mother and have a reasonable idea of who that person is, it's one piece of certainty we can have and it's also a very powerful word in a variety of cultures.

Mother's smile is fantastic "But I wonder if we would have had the same result if we had done the survey in the UK."

The spokesman said the list showed the diversity of the English language: "There are words denoting concepts that people aspire to, like freedom; words that sound fun like peekaboo and others that aren't really words at all but they convey real meaning, like "Oi!"

Amongst the least favourite words were panties, flesh, chasm, ebullient, breast, aplom, loin, prism, viscous, bulge, pungent, goiter, probe, war, terrorists and thrust.

Maybe in 2034 in words like eco, carbon footprint and maybe even gay will make it.   After all the word gay was hijacked by the "gay fraternity" Originally it was used to describe the happy disposition of humanity. My old school report states, " Delboy has a gay disposition"!

Maybe the least favourite words will be big brother and pop idol, let's hope love, honour, respect and peace make it to the top 10.

It will be interesting to see what slang words make it to the free online Oxford dictionary, a couple of my favourites are Cushdi: "Everything is fine" and Pukka "Sorted" (a derivative of 'cushdi').

About the Author: DrS has been promoting words of encouragement for the wordly wise for many years. His favourite words come from the free Oxford English dictionary online. One of his favourite words is English chat. Whats yours?