While under a damn tough course on Natural Language Processing (NLP) under a super-absent-minded-professor during my masters, I learnt this: The frequency of occurence of a word is inversely proportional to the information contained in it. For example, since the words “the” and “by” occur very often in language, they contain very little information . These will not help you discriminate one context from the other (and hence are excluded by search engines). On the other hand, words like "Camera" or “Photography” occur in very specific context giving us a lot of information about the bigger picture. After stating this, my professor then felt proud to reach a partly-poetic-partly-philosophical-partly-insane conclusion of: "The words which don’t occur in language (meaning, frequency of occurence is 0) have the most information (~ infinity)". [Or to quote the mushy Ronan Keating song, You say it best, when you say nothing at all]. At this point of time, he was very amused with himself, and he laughed and laughed and laughed. And then paused for some time, and finally said, “The time when you don’t write anything on your answer sheets, you know everything”.
I was confuzzled. This simple principle had then opened up a variety of thought for me, and I remember spending a few minutes thinking about it.
Now, I can list my favourite words under the simple premise of the fact, that trapped within a few characters is an entire concept. Hence my favourites: Serendipity, Chiaroscuro, melange and kiasu. Needless to say, I find very few occasions to use them.
Then come words which are neologisms, words that do not appear in the dictionary but should. I remember having this book called sniglets (circulated with a Readers’ Digest subscription in those days) which had a big set of these words: priceless gems with illustrations. I read it over and over and laughed everytime, since these words were very accurate observations of life in general, and were a story by themselves [Eg, Yinkel - n. A person who combs his hair over his bald spot, hoping no one will notice.]
After many years, Merriam Webster has published this list and this. Guys,Wordsmiths and Joke lovers--- feed on it. From the list: I have heard Chillax being used for sometime now. I borrowed “confuzzled”. I particularly like “Polkadodge”.
[For the curious: Prof. Lua Kim Teng retired later that year. I passed the course.]