The Real Meaning of the Word Favorite

Favorite is one of those words. You know, like “love” and “hate,” one of those words that people use all the time but don’t really question the meaning of.  We use these words incessantly without even thinking about it—“Thanks, you’re my favorite!” “This is my favorite movie ever.” “This restaurant is my new favorite.” Nowadays, people throw around the word “favorite” not thinking about the long term. Just because you claimed that Nickelback was your favorite band in middle school does not mean you still feel the same way now. (At least, I hope not.)

So what does “favorite” mean? Sure, you could Google it and quote The Free Dictionary’s definition: “a. One that is trusted, indulged, or preferred above all others.” Cool, yeah, that makes sense. That’s what everyone knows favorite means.

But just like love and hate, favorite may have a definition in the dictionary, but not many adhere to it. We throw around the word “favorite” about anything and everything. Just because I told a waitress at Isaac’s last week that she’s my favorite for giving me a little bit of extra ice cream does not mean that I trust, indulge, or prefer her above all others. Hell, I don’t even know her, and yet I had essentially told her that she is above all others in my mind—my family, my closest friends, my boyfriend—just for giving me a little bit of extra vanilla ice cream. Am I a sell-out or what? (Though admittedly, that ice cream was bangin’.)

So, you may ask, what do we mean when we say that this is our “favorite” issue? Are we talking about  ice-cream-waitress equivalent here, or are we talking about what is the ultimate best of everything? The answer is neither, really.

I myself have a “favorite list” of songs on my iPod consisting of 259 songs from various bands. It’s really a giant melting pot of music (actually, I’m totally renaming the playlist that, as of now), consisting of all sorts of genres and types—fast, slow, soulful, fun. Some of it makes me cry occasionally, while some makes me drum along on the steering wheel as I drive. That playlist has everything: rock, folk, alternative, electronic, and even a tiny bit of country. I’ve had numerous people tell me that I can’t have 259 favorite songs. But no matter what anyone says, and though these songs are eclectic and have seemingly nothing to do with each other, they all do have one thing in common: they are my favorites. I define them as such for the simple reason that they touch or move me in some way (whether that means move literally or figuratively). And as I go through life and discovering new music, I’m always adding more.

Perhaps The Free Dictionary’s definition is not exactly what we are talking about here. Perhaps we can try the classic Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which defines “favorite” in two ways that seem just about right: “1. granted special treatment or attention,” “2. singled out from a number or group as more to one’s liking.” We are choosing these aspects of our lives to define as “favorites” because we grant them special treatment and have singled them out from a group. Why? Because they move us in some way. Maybe they bring us back to a happy time in our lives. Or perhaps they’re things we find beautiful. Maybe they’re the highlights of our days. Or maybe, just maybe, they’re just really damn good, and we want to show them to you, our dedicated readers, because we hope that you’ll love them as much as we do.

So yes, I can tell that waitress that she was my favorite, because in that moment, she was definitely one of them. I think back on that moment and remember that kind waitress who gave me a little extra ice cream, simply because she brightened my day. Perhaps “favorite” doesn’t have to be such a definitive, black and white term. Perhaps favorite can just mean this: something that we have singled out because it moved us in such a strong way.

This issue will be The Melting Pot of all our favorite things. And this issue will be our favorite issue yet, because we get to gush about everything we love. They might not be “trusted above all others” because that’s not what favorite means to us. Favorite means something that is a piece of ourselves, and we want to share those pieces with you. This issue will be eclectic, crazy, and all over the place, but all of these articles will meet at one wonderful focal point: they all moved us in some way, and they all are things we trust, indulge, or prefer above all others.  They all made us feel more human than we’ve ever felt before. And that’s our favorite thing of all.

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