Bon Mots (er, Bons Mots? Depends on the language, I guess)

Well, I couldn’t access the F5 page to see the question, but according to Dan my question came up next:

What are your five favorite words (in any language), and why do you like them so much?

Me, there are tons of words I’m crazy about in a few different languages.

Well, I’m not going to do this very carefully, so my faux-dictionary style may be riddled with inconsistencies, but anyway, here you go:


Machin-truc (machin-truc): Fr. (coll./slang)

n. (pron.) device of thing of unknown nature or designation; thingamabob.

Eg. “Ce machin-truche, qu’est-ce que c’est?” (That thingamadoodle, what is it?)


빵 (Bbang) Kor., (Edit: According to my coworker Chullsung’s long-ago teacher, from the Portugese, but in any case definitely from a Latin language)

n. bread, baked goods.

Eg. “빵이 맛있어요!” (Bread is delicious!)


뒹굴뒹굴 하다 (dwinggul dwinggul hada): Kor.

v. to relax, to lounge about, to laze around.

Eg. “오빠! 뒨굴뒨굴 하자!” (Honey, let’s just lounge around!)


거시기 (Koshigi): Kor. (slang).

n. a) thing of unknown nature or designation, thingamabob,

Eg. 그 거시기는 뭐야? (What is that thing?)

b) shorthand for any thing that the speaker wishes to designate by it, including but not limited to things too complex to spell out in informal conversation, or things which are to be explicitly referred to as things.

Eg. “내 거시기도 해!” (That [thing]’s mine too!) (Edit: apparently this one is just plain wrong as an example, misspelling and doesn’t even have the word I’m going on about, when properly written…)

Eg. “모르겠어… 그런데 그 거시기를 안밨어.” (I dunno… but I didn’t see that thing.)

c) penis

Eg. “거시기 아퍼!” (My penis hurts!)


heliotype (heliotype): En (19th cent/archaic.).

n. A photomechanically produced plate for pictures or type made by exposing a gelatin film under a negative, hardening it with chrome alum, and printing directly from it. (Definition from here.)

Or, according to the Oxford English Dictionary:

A picture obtained by printing from a film of gelatine which has been sensitized with bichromate of potash and exposed to light under a negative; also, the process by which such a picture is produced.


That last one I encountered perhaps for the first time in a China Mieville novel, but I’ve seen it again and again since. Beautiful word, much nice than “photograph”, which is what he substitutes it for in his Bas-Lag fictions.

Ah, one more runner-up, from French, and one of the all-time funniest adjectival cusses I’ve ever heard: “d?hriss?, literally “de-Christed,” it is used to describe either a machine that is nonfunctional (such as a virally infected computer) or a person who is exhausted or demoralized by some experience. De-Christed. That’s pretty funny.

To see which words others love, have a look under the Friday Fivers dropdown menu in the right sidebar.

(EDIT: I realize I didn’t answer the second part of the question. Well, let’s see: Machin-truc and 거시기 are words for “thingamajig”, and I have a passion for all such words; 빵 is the first Korean double-consonant I figured out how to say correctly, the name of a nightclub I used to play at with the old band, and it means bread, which makes it all in all good; 뒨굴뒨굴 하다 has good associations because it means lounging about, because Lime and I once made up a song about it, and because it just sounds neat; and finally, heliotype just sounds really cool, in that deadly steampunkish-Victorians-dissecting-aliens way that I so dearly love.

Edit 2: Whoops. “내 것이 기도 해!” does not contain the word “거시기”, though of course it’s understandable why I would think it did.

Edit 3: Chullsung emailed me about numerous Korean spelling errors and errors of etymology throughout. I really need to start studying Korean again. Thanks Chullsung!)

3 thoughts on “Bon Mots (er, Bons Mots? Depends on the language, I guess)

  1. Korean seems ike a fascinating language; is there somewhere online where there are clips of the language that I could listen to, to hear how it sounds?

    Is “gordsellar” based on a Korean word, or is your name Gordon and it’s a nickname?

  2. Um, where can you hear Korean online… good question. I don’t know of anywhere where you can hear it as it’s normally spoken, but I recommend you simply rent (or borrow from your library) one of the big Korean movies circulating now for a taste of how it sounds. Something like “Untold Scandal” or “Save the Green Planet”, maybe, or “Taegukgi”.

    As for “gordsellar”, my name is Gord Sellar. I just compressed the two into a single word for my handle. Not too imaginative, but it works for me.

    In Korean, the way they say my name sounds like the Korean name for a kind of fish or, more often, people say, it sounds like the Korean word for icicle (Go-deu-reum).

  3. A Korean movie is a good idea; I’ll see if Blockbuster Online has one!! :-)

    I’ve changed my link to you to say “Gord’s blog”… although I’m REALLY tempted to make it be “Icicle’s blog.” ;-)

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