“May I have a word with you?” Has anybody ever said this to you? It’s usually not good. And it’s rarely “a word.” It sometimes means you’ve done or said something wrong. And that you’re in for a whipping. It’s liable to be a one-sided conversation. More like a monologue.
“They had words.” Have you ever “had words” with someone? Sounds like you’re sharing an appetizer or a ride. It’s another one that’s rarely good. When you “have words” with someone it’s likely that neither of you really had any words that you didn’t lob at the other. Verbal warfare. Talking to the ex.
“You have my word.” This one is usually much better. It’s a promise, an assurance. When I hear this I think, “Really? Which one?” Hope it’s the one you keep, but, if you keep it, do I have it? Now I’m confused. I hope you’re as good as your word. Perhaps better. And that you don’t break your word. Would breaking your word be a mispronunciation? Are you a man or woman of your word? If so, you’ll be keeping that word, right, so I can’t have it?
“I can’t put it into words.” This seems like the antithesis of conversation. It’s an idea or a feeling that you can’t share with the spoken word. Words don’t exist that allow you to express this idea or feeling. Maybe just grunt. Or Pictionary. We might guess it.
“Stop putting words in my mouth!” Well, maybe if the ones you put there yourself were better I wouldn’t have to put words there. I could just “take the words right out of your mouth.” Would that make you happier? I might rather take out the ones that I just put in there.
Words fail me now, but, in a word, the word on the street is that, as a word to the wise, we shouldn’t believe a word of it. Word!