The favorite words of 250 of the best and brightest contemporary thinkers and creators are collected in this volume that no self-respecting word lover should be without. From Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to authors Yann Martel and Nicholson Baker, the writers, scientists, educators, humorists, and celebrities featured in this book write at length about their favorite words and why they are so enamored with them. The entries cover a range of responses, some witty and hilarious, some brilliant and profound, others linguistically clever and poignant. For Mary Higgins Clark it's memory ( the DNA of a writer ); for Arianna Huffington, it's trust ( both unutterably sacred and the old banana-skin joke on a cosmic scale ). Other favorite words include the familiar ( love , zest , goodness ), the unfamiliar ( cthonic , steatopygia , irredentist ), long words ( horripilating ) and short ( sex ), weird words ( jerzoid ), and refreshingly down-to-earth words ( egg ). This cornucopia of words is a frequently funny, sometimes eccentric, and often surprisingly intimate and moving look into personality and language.