Britain's Favourite Words




The British people voted on their favourite words in 2002, and the results can be found below:

1. Serendipity
2. Quidditch
3. Love
4. Peace/Why
5. Onomatopoeia
6. Hope
7. Faith
8. Football/Muggle/Hello/Family
9. Bollocks/Compassion/Fuck/Home
10. Jesus/Money

Source: The Word: The London Festival of Literature

Word Definition Examples
Serendipity According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online, it is a formal word referring to the lucky tendency to find interesting or valuable things just by chance. The actress Lana Turner, it is said, was discovered by serendipity at Schwab's Hollywood drug store.  

"Some of the more interesting antiques in my house have been the result of serendipity."

Quidditch A word coined by J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, it is a fictitious game of witches and wizards, played with broomsticks. "It all began when I joined Harry Potter at the Hogwarts Quidditch field to help him prepare for Task 3 of the Triwizard Tournament."
Onomatopoeia This refers to the use of words which have been formed to sound like the noise of the thing that they are describing or representing, e.g. hiss, buzz.  (Collins Cobuild) Japanese has three times the number of onomatopoeic expressions as English.
Muggle Another word invented by J. K. Rowling, it is now being used to describe a narrow-minded, materialistic individual, lacking in imagination, who is not really good enough to be in your peer group or profession. "Do you want to be a Muggle or a Wizard?"

"Harry's own mother, Lily, came from a Muggle family."

Bollocks This is a swear word, used to express disagreement or irritation.  It can also refer to a man's testicles. "Look at him!  He really thinks he's the dog's bollocks! (the best)."


Do you have a favourite word that is not listed here?  Email it to me and I will add it to the list: teacherkarenb


Reader Favourite Word
My favourite word has always been 'verisimilitude'.  It's rather lengthy and not many people know what it means, but I find it to flow pleasantly off the tongue.
'Tuberculosis' is my favourite word. I just like the sound of it. Wouldn't be particularly keen on actually having it though.
David Spackle, dandelion
Natalie Bubble


©Karen Bond 2002-2006. All rights reserved.