What A Difference A Letter Makes: Happy Is A Five Letter Word

I’ll confess profanity rarely bothers me. Maybe my tolerance comes from my father, who was an army staff sergeant during World War II and didn’t always remember to temper his speech later after I made my appearance. Or maybe I’m less bothered because on the radical streets of Berkeley, California, where my husband did his graduate education, profanity was a form of proletariat poetry. In neither case were these expletives heavily laden with anger. Profanity was just another form of expression.

Now, when profanity annoys me, annoyance is usually on one of two levels. First, that my favorite entertainers are substituting that hackles-raising “F” word for pauses or phrases they can’t seem to recall. That word-of-all-words has become an aging comedian’s, “you know,” or “uh huh,” or “am I right?” and as such I’m bored by the lack of vocabulary and creativity.  I cringe even more when profanity is a symptom of rage, and everyone in earshot is infected.

While I tolerate four letter words better than some of my readers, who are vocal about their dislike, I much prefer five letter words. Some of life’s very best can be summed up in five letters. Shade, books, music, happy, smile, lucky, faith, puppy, lover, quilt, buddy, kitty, youth, birth, and start as well as begin.

Want to play along? Just click on comment above on the right and tell us your favorite five letter words. Today is a good day to relax.  Since this is summer, your day is either sunny, rainy or balmy, but whatever it is, it’s entirely yours. You’ll note, of course, as you think of your favorite words, that some of them have more than five letters. And some, like love and life, will be four letter words forever.

There is power in words of every length–and power is a five letter word, too. A novelist’s mission is to use the words of any length that say the most with the most precision and linger the longest. Words can change the world. Words and world. Five letters. Wasn’t that my point? P-O-I-N-T.


  1. Donna Maine on July 25, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    It was hard to come up with one five letter word!! I guess relax and quilt would be my favorite now. And a six letter word is my very favorite– retire– which I’m doing in November!!! Love your books!!

  2. Christy H. on July 26, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Share ~ Smart ~ Laugh

    What a fun (and postive) post!

  3. Sylvia Bobbitt on July 26, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    Child, grace, enjoy

  4. Emilie Richards on July 27, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Love everyone’s five letter words. How about trust? Think? Dream?

  5. Debbie Haupt on July 28, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Ah Emilie, great article as usual my favorite 5 letter word is NOVEL 😉

  6. Sherry on July 29, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    These are a few of my favorites:

  7. Paula Petty on July 29, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I like story and sleep.

  8. Sandi on July 29, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    I’m sad to say, the first five letter word that popped into my head was BREAD. But I’m SEVEN days into my eating for better HEALTH project, and I’m thrilled that typing the word bread didn’t make me jump out of my chair and go get some! I’m not there yet, but I’m working on being at PEACE with my body.

  9. Sandi on July 31, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Thank you. Apparently I also need to improve my counting skills, since “health” has six letters!

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