the password is MELANCHOLY
“What’s the word I’m looking for?”
Some might say a picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps, but try finding a single word with the same exchange rate. For all things, there is a perfect word. It is the one that captures a moment, a description, a feeling, in that oh so elegant way. It is the one word that makes your companion sigh, “exactly.”
It’s my little game in life to find those lovely brass tacks. I love having the right word at the right moment. It isn’t about being a walking dictionary. It’s more like being a walking thesaurus. It’s being able to distill time down to its purest form without sacrificing meaning. In truth, it’s better fun than quite a few things.
Then again, there are times when I am completely off. By off, I don’t mean those senior moments when words escape me. Who cares about those? A good night’s sleep, a shot of caffeine, and I am right as rain. By off, I am not talking about when I used dearth instead of abundance. Obviously, I had no idea what the word meant, nor did I realize the complete irony of my error. No, my dear friends. I am talking about those moments when I utter a word that would only draw the unbelievably accurate pronouncement: “I do not think it means what you think it means.”
You see, in all of the time I had been using the word “melancholy,” I had thought that it meant something slightly different. My definition had a bit of romance, a bit of hope, a bit of something else. Rather, I find it to be a bummer of a word, with a kind of gross etymology:
(n.) 1. Sadness or depression of the spirits; gloom. 2. Pensive reflection or contemplation. (adj.) 1. Affected with or marked by depression of the spirits; sad. 2. Tending to promote sadness or gloom. 3. Pensive; thoughtful. 
(adj.) 1. Characterized by or causing or expressing sadness; “growing more melancholy every hour”; “her melancholic smile”; “we acquainted him with the melancholy truth” 2. Grave or even gloomy in character; “solemn and mournful music”; “a suit of somber black”; “a somber mood” (n.)1. A feeling of thoughtful sadness 2. A constitutional tendency to be gloomy and depressed 3. A humor that was once believed to be secreted by the kidneys or spleen and to cause sadness and melancholy. 
Etymology: c.1303, “condition characterized by sullenness, gloom, irritability,” from O.Fr. melancholie, from L.L. melancholia, from Gk. melankholia “sadness,” lit. “black bile,” from melas (gen. melanos) “black” (see melanin) + khole “bile” (see Chloe). Medieval physiology attributed depression to excess of “black bile,” a secretion of the spleen and one of the body’s four “humors.” Adj. sense of “sullen, gloomy” is from 1526; sense of “deplorable” (of a fact or state of things) is from 1710. 
While not a glaring misstep, it’s enough to kill the romance of the word. In truth, I was probably looking for either bittersweet, or perhaps wistful, and not the humor brought about by the excess secretion of black bile.
As I bang my head with the Roget’s, so continues my quest for the perfect word.
 “melancholy.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 23 Jun. 2007.
 “melancholy.” Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 23 Jun. 2007.
 “melancholy.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 23 Jun. 2007.