words that piss you off

Juxtaposition of circle and square cakes

Is it an English teacher thing or do normal other people have a collection of words that carry emotional weight for them?

By this I mean, do regular folks like certain words and dislike other words? Or do most people just walk about the earth caveman-style without worrying too much about things like this?

Let me give you a for example.

I was reading a blog the other day.

It mentioned the word “juxtaposition.”

Do you get it?

I have to tell you that I have a thing about the word “juxtaposition.”

That word pisses me off.

First of all, I missed it on my SAT’s over 20 years ago.

(Okay, fine, over 25 years ago – whatever!)

I totally remember coming out of the lunchroom after being made to sit next to a repetitive pencil-tapper for three consecutive hours on a gorgeous Saturday morning. (Let’s not even discuss the fact that I have a thing about repetitive noises. My closest friends know that if they tap something more than five times in a row, I will throw them to the ground.) Let’s just say, I was definitely a little twitchy.

Anyway, I came out of the cafeteria and went a little ape-shit.

Me (all indignant): Who even knows what juxtaposition means? Anyone? I mean who would know that word?

Everyone looked at me blankly.

And then one person defined it.


Mr. Smarty Pants: Juxtaposition is the act of placing close together or side by side, for comparison or contrast.

Me: Really, Mr. Smarty Pants. That’s awesome that you know that. Can you use it in a sentence?

Mr. Smarty Pants: ‘I like the construction of sentences and the juxtaposition of words – not just how they sound or what they mean, but even what they look like.’ That’s a quote by Don DeLillo.

Me: Who the hell is Don DeLillo?

Mr. Smarty Pants: Where did you say you want to go to college?

I was sooooo pissed.

But from that moment forward, i have never forgotten the dang word.

Do you get it now?

And the reality is, I love the juxtaposition of words and ideas!

Oh, the irony!

And guess what? Now I use the word “juxtaposition” all the time.

Almost daily.

Just because.

I will not tell you the other skillion words that drive me bonkers bother me because if I am ever taken hostage in a bizarre twist of events that would lead to the taking of hostages, I would rather be water-boarded than have people whisper my least favorite words in my ears.

Can you imagine if my captors juxtaposed the whispering of all those awful words with simultaneous, repetitive pencil tapping?

That, dear readers, would be hell.


What words drive you to pain and chaos, and why?

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