I was about to say "all combos"--but there are word combinations that clang in my head like the Toonerville Trolley when I read them mashed together.
But I do love portmanteau words, a phrase coined by Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass.
Here's Humpty, explaining to Alice the meaning of slithy toves in Jabberwocky:
"Well, 'slithy' means 'lithe and slimy.' 'Lithe' is the same as 'active.' You see it's like a portmanteau--there are two meanings packed up into one word."
This flies in the face of an old adage drilled into my brain by a newspaper editor I once had: "The old words are best. The old words when short are best of all." She attributed this quote to Winston Churchill who, let's face it, was no mean piker when it came to memorable words and phrases.
I do note in passing, though, that none of the sites offering up the alleged Churchill quote bother to attribute it to any particular speech or piece of writing, setting off all my cynical internal-reporter alarms. And still the thing is repeated again and again on every writing blog in the universe. Including this one.
Short words are great. They have their purpose. So do long ones.
I mean, sometimes "keen" or "howl" works best. But sometimes to get that whole Middle East flavor of prostrate, throat-warbling grief, you just really need "ululation."
(I'm only semi-kidding.)
It does help to know your audience and for whom you're writing, though. (Or, as our pal Winston might say about that last one: "This is the sort of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put." Another of those oft-quoted but never sourced nuggets that can be found in myriad permutations all over the web. Ooooh. I like those jaw-breakers. But I like "many versions" better, I think.)
Still digressing, I know.
This all came about because a tweet of readers, writers, editors and reviewers were tossing out some of their favorite $1,000 words on Twitter today.
Which caused me to google "unusual words."
Which I now share with you: Unusual Words
Here's a good one: Basorexia. An overwhelming desire to neck or kiss.
Oh, come on.
It was either that or recite "Jabberwocky."