Friday, March 05, 2010

When You Don't Know the Word--Make It Up

Ever needed just the right word to explain something--and the word didn't exist? It may now--through The Unword Dictionary.

As purveyor of Today's Word on Twitter and Facebook, I love learning new words. Even so I often find in my writing that as my fingers fly I make them up. I'll noun a verb, verb a noun, or just create something that sounds right. Then I'll stare at the word and think, "Wait a minute." A quick online dictionary check will show me I've been at it again--creating a new word.

By the way there's an actual word for a newly coined term that hasn't yet entered mainstream use. It's neologism. From the Greek neos, meaning new, and logos, meaning word. Neologisms are often created by combining two words.

About The Unword Dictionary:

The only reference that collects words which are too new for dictionaries but absolutely perfect when heard in context, this collection of 1,000 "unwords" contains plenty of indispensable terms. What to call yucky slime at the tip of a lotion dispenser? Accumulotion, of course! How to refer to a receding hairline? A former forehead is now a fivehead. Children complaining when their peas roll into their applesauce at dinner? At last there's a name for that errant pea: it's a foodgitive. Word-lovers will laugh at the ingenious names for as yet unnamed things, which will surely find their way into readers' personal lexicons.

The author of The Unword Dictionary is Steve Kiehl, webmaster of At his site you can submit your own neologism.

How 'bout you? Have a neologism or two? They're fun to make up. Here are a few from me:

Rapiditease: the speed at which a hairdresser can fluff up hair

Dreadline: when the book's due--and you're not done

Ostenspacious: overbearingly large and flamboyant, as in a tasteless mansion

Deneyeall: A man's insistance that he never looks at other women


Kathleen said...

My daughter has made them up all her life. I wish instead of just laughing, I had written them down.
The latest is sinceriously-sincerely serious.

Winter said...

My husband is doing this all the time. Mixing words to fit a certain situation, most of them Army grunt related stories. And wouldn't you know it, I can't think of a one of them! <}:^)

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

I used one just this week on my blog: dis-favorites as in "I don’t like admitting it. I mean, all Scripture is profitable, given for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, so I feel like I shouldn’t have dis-favorites."


Shauna said...

Sounds like Rich Hall's Sniglets.

Barbara E Brink said...

All my life I've said, "halfen" as in cut in half. My husband informed me that it wasn't a real word. But what you grow up with, stays with you. I blame grandma. She knew lots of words that weren't real words:)

Dave said...

We always call escaped peas "escapeas" rather than foodgitives. Or sometimes SKPs for short.