Wednesday Words: Chris Redding shares some American and British Faves

I love words. That is why I am a writer, of course. So I was intrigued by the idea of picking some favorites. I cheated a little. A couple of my words are British, not American, but I have an excuse. I lived in England at one point in my life and sometimes a British word is better than an American one. Here goes.

1. Gobsmacked means to be startled. Its root is gob for mouth and smacked meaning to put your hand in front of your mouth. I think it sounds like what it means. You’ve been hit with something and you’re surprised by it.

Here’s how I used it in Along Came Pauly, a romantic comedy I released this year. This scene is where the hero first meets the heroine.

Paul Vincenzo stood at the bottom of the marble steps, gobsmacked. It was a word his butler, Jeeves, used, but for the first time he understood it.

I searched all of my manuscripts and found that I only used it once. It lends itself better to romantic comedy than romantic suspense.

2. Wanker is another British word I love. I don’t believe there is an equivalent in American English. It basically means a jerk, but it’s really a stronger word than jerk. Wanking is masturbating.  I’ve never used it in a story, but I may have to now that I think about it. Challenge accepted.

3. Detritus is a word I pronounced incorrectly for years. Until I heard someone else say it. I looked up the pronunciation then. I like how I say it better, but it still is one of those words that sounds like what it means. Detritus is debris usually from erosion. I didn’t use this word in a book either. Odd because I think it would sound good in a romantic suspense.

4. Onamotapoeia. That is such a pretty word. And such a simple idea. A word that sounds like what it is. Examples: Cuckoo, bam, honk, meow.

This is what had to say for its origin: 1577, from L.L., from Gk. onomatopoiia “the making of a name or word”
(in imitation of a soundassociated with the thing being named), from onomatopoios,
from onoma (gen. onomatos) “word, name”(see name) + a derivative of poiein “compose, make” (see poet).

Imagine. We use a word today that someone more than 400 years ago would know what it meant. Boggles the mind. To me, that means the word is such a useful word that it never went out of our nomenclature.

As I said earlier I love words and these were just a few of my favorite words.

Thanks for having me today.


A contemporary romance about a dog that brings two people together who don’t want to be. She’s a vegetarian veterinarian who needs cash for a no-kill shelter. He’s the heir to a hot dog fortune who must give away money before he gains his inheritance. Sounds like a perfect match. It isn’t


She didn’t have time to soothe his ego. If he couldn’t understand about animal emergencies than she couldn’t explain it to him.

Not now. Not ever.

Running down the steps in front of the hotel, she stumbled. When she landed upright, the heel of one shoe broke. “Damn. Cheap shoes.” She pulled them off, standing in her stockinged feet.

She gave the valet her ticket then waited for her car. A light drizzle, dropping the temperature. She shivered hoping the valet hadn’t parked too her car far away from her.

After what seemed like an eternity, the young man pulled up. She shook his hand, slipping him some bills for his trouble. At least she tried. She ended up dropping the bills. He reached for the money the same time she did. Her shoulder hit him in the eye.


“I’m sorry.”

The parking guy managed to stay on his feet. Daria landed on her butt in a puddle. Another dress ruined. “How about I let you get the money?”

“Can I help you up?”

“Maybe you better not.”

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