X is for X Words

X is for X Words

X words are, in my opinion, some of the most exciting, extraordinary, exceptional words around! I believe that any writer can expect to excel by including in their expositions, explications and exegesis some of the excellent examples of x-words expounded upon herein, and by expanding and extending their vocabulary by daily examination of the x-section of the dictionary. And not only will your written work become exemplary, but so will every other aspect of your existence!

X words, also known as ex words, have been long used by poets and writers to great effect. Consider Coleridge’s exotic poem about Xanadu in Kubla Khan. Or perhaps Piers Anthony’s wildly exalted fantasy series about the world of Xanth (and is not the word “xanth” itself a much more exotic term than its mundane – no pun intended, of course — synonym, yellow?).

Of course, for those whose tastes lean to the scientific rather than the literary, consider the long list of scientific terms belonging to the X-family: is it not much more eye-catching to use the term xanthane rather than the exceedingly awkward chemical formula C12H10O? or likewise xanthine in place of C5H4N4O2? Even the chemical table features that wonderful element xenon. For the geometrically minded, the x-axis is of course essential, along with its x-coordinates and x-intercepts, not to mention exterior angles. As for medicine, suppose you have an appointment for a mammogram, but don’t feel comfortable using that term with your male colleagues; avoid embarrassment by simply explaining that you will be having xeroradiography. If they exasperate you by demanding details, simply explain witheringly, “I’m having an X-ray exam!”

Simple nouns themselves are not exempt from the x word rule. Why not exclude the boring word sail-boat, in favor of the more exact term xebec? And xerography sounds much more exclusive than photocopy (though of course you might alternatively exchange xerography for xerox when expedient). And is not x-section much more fun than cross-section, not to mention easier to spell?

Even in the culinary world, x words are essential. Can you imagine a list of ingredients that includes “polysaccharide produced by fermentation of carbohydrates by a gram-negative bacterium” when the simple and elegant term, xantham gum, can just as easily be used? You will, however, want to avoid any food which includes xylene, which is highly toxic, in its list of ingredients. Xylitol, on the other hand, promises a sweet treat!

X words are also perfect for describing a variety of people. The ill-tempered wife is a Xanthippe, while a monk with a special interest with education may be a Xaverian Brother. And then there is the weighty world of gender equality, which is ruled by the tiny X chromosome: exclude one or add another, and you’d be quite a different person!

X words shine in the world of communications as well, such as those X band radio frequencies used for radar and spaceship communication. And then there is Xray, a communications code word for the letter x. Who knows, perhaps that simple little code word from the x-family has won wars!

Looking for a new hobby? Take up xylography (which, you much admit, sounds much more interesting than engraving). Or perhaps you will wish to learn that excellent instrument, the xylophone. Or if you find watering your lawn and garden every day excruciating, you may wish to excavate your grass and replace it with a Xeriscaped yard full of xerophilous plants.

Are you intrigued by things foreign? Then you are a xenophile. On the other hand, if you fear things foreign, you are a xenophobe. If that is sadly the case, you should make an effort to meet a Xhosa, whose winsome ways will convert you to xenophilia. In which case you may want to pick up a few xu, when you next travel to Vietnam.

And finally, and perhaps most important, a great advantage of expanding your X vocabulary is that it results in exceptional scores in that most excellent of table games, Scrabble! It is not possible to be excessive with x words, I’m sure you’ll agree, so feel free to use them exhaustively!

Norma Hill

Date: May 20, 2007

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