Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Nearly Happiness

Nearly Happiness

This week we’ll ponder some happiness synonyms gleaned mostly through surfing of the synonym sections in my 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language.

Most modern English speakers embrace the second meaning of happiness:
the state of pleasurable content of mind which results in success or the attainment of what is considered good.

Its synonyms reflect these shades of meaning:

gladness, implies a very exultant feeling of joy
cheerfulness, suggests a steady display of bright spirits or optimism
joy, implies great elation expressed in demonstrative happiness, with
joyousness suggesting a matter of usual temperament
& joyfulness having been caused by a temporal event.
pleasure is an agreeable feeling of satisfaction
delight suggests a high degree of obvious pleasure, openly & enthusiastically expressed
enjoyment implies a quieter feeling of satisfaction

Though it wars with the sensibilities of the modern speakers, the first meaning of happiness in most dictionaries is good fortune or luck in life or in a particular affair; success, prosperity.

Lucky implies a favorable or advantageous occurrence, unexpectedly & by chance. Lucky’s synonyms include:

fortunate, used for more serious matters of unexpected fortuity.
propitious means full of promise, good or favorable
auspicious suggests something good and encouraging
felicitous suggests an appropriate or suitable fit
providential suggests the intervention of God or some higher entity in bringing about favorable circumstances

Good readers, which synonym applies best to an experience you had this week?

My thanks go out to this week’s sources: OED, Etymonline, & Wordnik,& the 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language


  1. Cheerfulness in the face of providentially wrought inauspicious circumstances. I've learned a sharp and expensive lesson about tailgating :P Don't. Do it. Ever.

    But y'know what? It's all good. Fortunately, I have excellent car insurance and many wise advisors, nobody was hurt, and it was divinely ordained. Cheers!

  2. Hey Rachel6 - what a shame it wasn't a sharp & inexpensive lesson, but bravo to the auspiciously excellent insurance. I'm gald you & no one else was hurt.

  3. Unexpected fortuity? That might work. My (expletive deleted) publisher made my book Sherwood, Ltd free without telling me today. But it's shot up the charts in a few hours and is now at #4 in general humor and #27 in romantic comedy in the free Kindle store, so I guess that's fortuitous. Or maybe providential? A Dea Ex Machina may be involved :-)

  4. Anne,
    HA! I'm thinking most publishers fit in the machina category, & some decidedly act as if they fit in the dea/deus category. Congrats on your well-deserved stardom, & bring on the fortuitousness!

  5. I have been feeling quite joyful about what some see as a not so joyous event. My 60th birthday. Celebrated with party's and trips and friends and family. Fortunate? You bet!

  6. Brava to your joyous, joyful, good fortune. May the coming years be similarly festive.