Er, what did you say?

I was tooling around my favorite blogs a few days ago and ran across an interesting one at Nathan Bransford’s on least favorite words . It’s not surprising that, as a writer, I love words. But I couldn’t think of any specific ones that rub me wrong. There are the instances when words are misused (affect/effect, its/it’s anyone?) Right now I’m not super-crazy about the word super, since it’s become everyone’s favorite hyphenated adjective. But it only annoys me a little, not enough to knock the word into my stomp can.

So then I started thinking: what about made-up words? You know: when there’s no existing word for a particular thing so you make one up. Here are some of mine:

cursmudgeon: (n) that teeny little triangle of beard that some men leave dangling under their lower lip. I don’t know why.

pappy: (n) my daughter’s pacifier

shmoopish: (n?) the state of feeling shmoopie

shmoopie: (n) a term of affection. (I didn’t invent this one; it came from the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld–one of the most prolific word-maker-uppers of all time.)

Does anyone else make up words? Let’s hear ’em.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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15 Responses to Er, what did you say?

  1. Anupam says:

    Thanks for this nice post.

  2. Wulf says:

    I thought I invented it, but I’ve heard other computer techies use it quite frequently.

    It refers to anything that happens in computer programs that we can’t explain.

    “How does it do that?”

  3. Mary Witzl says:

    I just remembered another one: our daughter called her pacifier ‘patti-pya.’ To this day, they’re still patti-pyas to us.

  4. Mary Witzl says:

    My husband and I used ‘boodle’ to describe the playing our kids engaged in when they were toddlers. We’d go out shopping and if they got a little antsy, we’d stop in a play area and let them boodle. To this day, we still use it, and as it embarrasses our adolescents, it’s loads of fun.

  5. Kathleen says:

    When my youngest was about four, he accused his dad of being “insisticated.” Dad was determined to have his way without getting all the information first.

  6. Becca says:

    yes, that phenomenon also needs a word. attractionism. good one.

  7. a friend and I made up a word: “attractionism” which is the phenomenon of how the two of us, being as close as we are, can meet a new person and one of us really like them, the other not able to stand them.

  8. Becca says:

    gonculator! awesome. I’ve always thought there should be a name for that thing.

    Zoe, I’ll be sure to avoid any -ush words if you’ll avoid words that have extraneous silent letters (mnemonic, pneumonia, limb, etc). Those kind of annoy me.

  9. Marcia says:

    gonculator — my husband’s made-up word for the little plastic ring that snaps off when you open a gallon milk jug or other such container. We’ve been using this for so long that we’ve had to explain to some people it’s not a real word! BTW, gonculators are great cat toys.

  10. Zoe says:

    I can’t think of any made-up words, but I can tell you which ones just make me shudder for no aparent reason. Everyone, I’m sure has these, and everyone’s are different! They are:
    Lush, plush, (and to a lesser extent other -ush words), math (we say maths in Australia), schlub and others which I can’t remember now!

  11. I like slummie!

    Now, I might be wrong, but is soul patch a synonym for cursmudgeon?

  12. Becca says:

    lol! maybe I’ll keep track of the words my kids make up. I could write a children’s dictionary ;).

  13. Just_Me says:

    Aroarasaurus – my youngest first thing in the morning

  14. Maggie says:

    awesomical – radical/awesome combined

    vomitesque – I know I heard this on a tv show once, but for the life of me i don’t remember which.

  15. Angela says:

    Leftover kid words:

    Slummie = oatmeal (…not sure how this one started)

    Brumm = ride (as in “let’s brumm your bike down to the park”)

    Sloochie, spoochie, scoochie, snoochie, paloochie = all names for our dog that rhyme with ‘poochie’

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