You could use:
$regex(name,a few words,/\b(word|otherword|anotherword)\b/)
\b in regex is a word boundary if I'm correct (will match 'nothing' in: "there is nothing!", where $istok wouldn't).
Also, you can use $regml(name,1) to get the word matched (to save some CPU cycles), and $regml(name,1).pos to get the position of the match.