Culture

Odious: sometimes it is the perfect word

Odious: sometimes it is the perfect word

A few years back I found myself in a weird professional pickle. I was protested for advocating for equal resources. I did not understand why there was such much anger and venom thrown at me. I truly had not said anything outrageous or inflammatory. Just the fact that I was speaking seemed to incite a wave of anger. Such a pickle was new to me but I rose above the situation.

There was one particular protestor that I honed in on and always stayed with me as a reminder of what I could rise above. That person is ingrained in my consciousness as the “odious” one. I had never used that word until that moment. However, that word in how it scrunches up your face as you say it perfectly captures a moment, a person and a sentiment. You say the word and immediately the sense of revulsion follows. You say the word and you instantly know something is foul. You can feel it as you expel your word breath. You say the word and you know that everything about the moment is unsavory. Your tongue feels it as you push the word out of your mouth. It is such an emotionally and physically perfect word to capture a moment or person.

This particular protestor’s objection was at its base and core objectionable. They hated that I was advocating for the well-being of a group that they felt should not get help although they admitted such a population needed help. They just didn’t want funds designated for their group of interest to be shared. Helping and lifting up other groups was seen as a zero-sum game. I think the word odious captures quite well how the situation turned out to be.

The word is a very strong one reportedly first used in the 14th century. I love its use in Shakespeare’s Othello, where it noted “you told a lie, an odious damned lie.” Try stating that line. Don’t you feel the sneer and bile and the power of that word. Hope you have no need to say that word anytime soon.

8 replies »

  1. It’s feels good to find just the right word (even though it was about something bad).

    I have a friend who uses the word “loathe” about someone. She could easily have said hate or despise but she chose loathe and it was just right. The way shes says it and the way her face looks when she says it are precious. There is no question of the loathing.

    Hmm.
    .

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  2. Some words have special powers. I used to tease my dog with fragmented phrases. Instead of saying to him, “Brandy, wanna go for a walk? I would simply say. “Out” or “Walk.” He always responded by racing towards the door. It taught me that you don’t need to mince words to get a point across or get a dog’s attention. One word says it all!

    Good post!

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  3. I love finding just the right word to describe whatever or whomever. Words seem to escape me as I get older; I can hear the wheels grinding in that supposedly brainy substance sitting at the top of my body. It is so frustrating to have to wait for the word to get spit out of the computer. Your blog today was thought-provoking. The topic is one I enjoy. Good post. Thanks.

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