If There’s Not A Word For It, Make One Up.

Posted by admin on April 18, 2011 in Defies Description |

As you know, I have something of a love affair with words. Unlike those pesky numbers that always tripped me up in math class, words have no wrong answers. Best of all, you don’t even have to use the words that can be found in the average dictionary. You can always make one up on the fly.

Try doing that with numbers. Counting out loud, “one, two, three, four, five, splink” doesn’t exactly work, unless you’re trying to perform New Math.

But words, wow! They are just begging to be made up. Even some that aren’t made up at all should have been.

Case in point. I was reading an essay on The Bible and the guy said that scholars know that some of it is “writing that is inscribed with a lie.” Now, I’m not going to get into any of that here – but it was the term used to describe this that fascinated me. It is pseudepigrapha. I did not make this word up. I wish I had. Look it up on the Internet. It’s all over the place.

What a great word for such a big concept as writing that is a lie. “Why, I’m not lying sir, I’m pseudepigraphing.” Boy, that just sounds a lot higher and mightier than a bald face lie.

One of the truly great things about words is that you can do mashups. You can combine them into all sorts of almost endless combinations. My own company, named over a bottle of wine in the German themed town of Leavenworth, Washington is a combination of communications and creation. Simple. CommuniCreations, just by throwing an ‘re’ in the middle of ‘communications.’ Kid’s stuff. We also had created the name Vampirates, the combination of words being pretty obvious there.

A friend of mine’s business was a bit more of a challenge. It was created over margaritas. Synnovatia is a combination of synergy and innovation. I originally used it as a noun, synnovation, but then dropped the ‘on’ in favor of the softer ‘a’ sound. I think that one took about an hour.

I’ve actually had to start keeping a list of words as they come up. They pop into my head at the oddest times, as in when I propositioned a girlfriend, asking her if she felt like a twazzle. Now, I didn’t really know there is a word “twazzle” and that it’s meaning, well, is a bit raunchier than what I was proposing. So it went into the discard pile of wordplay, since it had already been done.

I find the lyric nature of words to be so alluring. For example there’s the term blurtation. I didn’t make this one up, it’s urban slang. If you don’t know what it means, it’s basically “when something sound really good in your head, but when you say it out loud, it sounds stupid.” Man, that’s a great word.

It comes pretty close to my own Verbal Tourettes, which means “saying something out loud that is really inappropriate and should have stayed in your head instead.” I’ve been guilty of it for years, but I rarely commit a blurtation.

Then there are those $5 words that are just gold. George Carlin once did a great routine about Boborygmi. It’s sounds like it’s a made up word, but it’s not. It is the noise your digestive system makes when it’s rumbling, growling and gurgling. Say it out loud once slowly and you’ll know that it is the perfect word for gut rumbles.

And therein lies the beauty of our language. Its endless ability to describe stuff that is all around us. And if there’s not a word to describe something, make it up. Just look at OMG, LOL, LMAO and WAG… they have all been added to the dictionary. So has bloggable and scareware.

In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary has added 45,437 new words and meanings as of March 2011. This include taquito, muffin top, cream-crackered (exhuasted), smack talk, la-la-land, fabless and couch surfing.

Obviously, I have a lot of company out there in the word world who are creating new words every day for us to delight over, add into our own lexicon and perhaps even create new terms that can one day be added to the annals of the English language by making its way into the dictionary.

Even Ben Franklin’s Drinker’s Dictionary, which gave us so many of our beloved terms for drunkenness, missed lashed, which with its complimentary phrase on the lash mean respectively, “drunk” and “engaged in a bout of drinking.”

And I must say that old Ben had some really good words for imbibing, including some of these wonderful, if slightly odd beauties: Been to Barbados, Burdock’d, He’s Kiss’d Black Betty,” and He’s een Too Free With the Creature. Oh, and my personal favorite: He Carries Too Much Sail.

If you want to enjoy the whole list and perhaps bring some of these back into popular use, it’s all here. in The Drinker’s Dictionary.

Who knows, perhaps one of us will be the next Ben Franklin, having our own dictionary of nonsensical wordology that came out of our own fertile, unfettered minds.

So dear readers, what are your own made up words and their meanings? Perhaps we can create our own Dictionaria of Phraseology right here and now.

Out on the Treasure Coast, stringing letters, into words and words into wonder,

— Robb

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