Penchant is one of those words I use, but only with people who like words. My husband, for example. Otherwise, I don’t use them much because so many people don’t recognize them. This one doesn’t count as a $20 word, though, because it only has two syllables. To be a truly, official, fancy word worth at least a $20, you need a minimum of three syllables and a sense that the origin was Latin or Greek, or perhaps, Polynesian.

From the “Smart Dictionary”

I was hoping to discover a trail of the past taking us into French, maybe. Penchant, with a French accent, might have sexual connotations.

Alas. Neither the American nor British dictionaries led me down through history to when this word meant “a small Gallic flag which flies over the war chief’s tent when he is making love to his mistress” or “silken under garments worn by the wife of the Count de Toulouse circa 1274.”

It merely means “a fondness or preference or liking” for this, that, or the other thing. Ho hum.

If we are going to have to write about vocabulary words — this is like one of those they put in Reader’s Digest’s “Improve Your Vocabulary” articles — make them more titillating. Sexier. Bring on the black silk underwear! This is not doing it for me.

Raunchy words! Yes! Bring them on!

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. I am retired and delighted to be so. May I live long and write frequently.


  1. I’ve been struggling a little internally, showing off my work occasionally people point to the 20$ words as a turn off. I don’t want my work to be dull but if you hit too many SAT vocab words…. this is looking to be one of the more difficult balances to strike with a broader audience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OK, I admit it, I had to look it up before I even thought about working on this daily prompt. I just had a quick look at the german word, and it is much simpler and easy to understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The root is Latin, “prendere” to weigh, so it’s very close to “leaning in a particular direction” or “weighing in favor of.” It’s a French word which, in British TV, is often pronounce “punchon.” I guess those Brits are still afraid of being jailed or tortured for not speaking French :p

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It SOUNDED French to me. I could not find a dictionary to support me, so thank you. I don’t know why people think it’s a fancy word. Garry and I use it a lot … it seems a pretty normal word. But then again, we use a lot of words. Wasn’t French the proper language for the Lords and Ladies of the Land of Brits? I’m pretty sure that’s what the entire Plantagenet family spoke.


  4. We, too, have the problem of using “big” words around our grown up kids and some of our friends. There are quite a few words they do not recognize and will complain that “no one talks like that”, “use real words”, etc. I’ll just sick to photos. Not sexy but still enjoyable for me,


    1. Using real words is exactly WHY our granddaughter can actually talk like an educated adult. If no one uses real words, they won’t learn anything. Kaitlin thought we were annoying when she was little. She is really grateful now. It’s worth the effort.


  5. Penchant is one of those words I hear from time to time (and have likely used myself once or twice) that I apparently never bothered to try and figure out what it actually means. I generally hear it used in the vein of “He has a penchant for such and such a thing….” and never connected that to meaning something that’s habitual. That means I have a lot of penchants, or am very penchanty, or something like that. OK, I apparently have the vocabulary skills of an underwear model….


    1. I just picked up words as I read. Sometimes, I had no idea how to pronounce them. I thought Tuckson and Too-son were entirely different cities, for example. They didn’t LOOK the same. Every once in a while, I realize that everyone is using a word and I have NO idea what it means. Epistemological is one of those words that gets tossed around in book reviews and I do not now, nor have I ever had a clue what it means and it isn’t for lack of reading the definition. I can read that definition all day long and it still doesn’t mean anything.


  6. I’m seeing a whole other side of you in this post i did not know before! 😮

    Not sure what dictionaries you used by but mine says:
    Penchant (noun)
    1670s, from French penchant, noun use of present participle of Old French pencher “to incline,” from Vulgar Latin *pendicare, a frequentative formed from Latin pendere “to hang, cause to hang”

    Vulgar Latin – there you go! 😉



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