Tony Leighton is a Canadian writer happily retired and attempting to help others feel the same.

Vocabuteria: swimmingly

[An ongoing feature designed to improve your vocabulary and mine. Plus, I get to riff about something I love.]


I like this adverb a lot. It popped into my head the other day as if spoken by some upper-crust snob commenting imperiously on the success of the hunt. I think it should be reclaimed for the masses. For us. If we use it enough it will be ours. But because it’s such a silly word — evoking water sports — I also recommend saying it with gravitas, to strip out the silliness and give it some weight. Look the person in the eyes, as if conveying serious news, nod knowingly, and enunciate slowly as if having pondered your response.

“How did the dinner with Gretchen go?”

“Swimmingly.” [Deliberately, as if pouring syrup.]

Delivered like that, it might catch on. Be brave. Ignore any mockery. They are jealous. And impressed.

You’d think “swimmingly” would have been coined in the 20th century by an actor in a British farce. Merriam-Webster says the first known use was 1622. El Greco and Caravaggio were painting. Swimmingly.

The synonyms are legion and luscious:

agreeably, charmingly, delectably, deliciously, delightfully, dreamily, enchantingly, enjoyably, favorably, felicitously, fetchingly, gloriously, gratifyingly, great, nicely, palatably, pleasantly, pleasingly, pleasurably, prettily, satisfyingly, splendidly, sweetly, welcomely, well, winningly


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