The joy of new words

Shakesepeare loved inventing new words. (photo a public domain work via Wikicommons)

Shakesepeare loved inventing new words. (photo a public domain work via Wikicommons)

I watched a video interview with JK Rowling a while back where she noted her love of new words added to the language.

I’m sure people add new words to the language each day, phrases they make up and have meaning to them, but it’s the rare few that catch on to be used by the masses and eventually make it into the broader lexicon.

The other day, I was reading a headline in which a woman described Robin Thicke’s song Blurred lines as kind of “Rapey.”  That was a new one for me. Rape is obviously a word and rapey  derived from it. While Merriam Websters and American Heritage ( don’t include it in their pages (web pages, that is), several urban dictionaries do use it.

It’s always interesting what words make it into greater use and which ones don’t. My daughter says “nervouscited.” The dictionary does not recognize the cross between nervous and excited (she picked it from My Little Pony). Ginormous (the combo of giant and enormous) has also gained popularity. Of course, the meaning of these words comes from combining previously known words. Truly new words, with little basis in the known is rarer. When I was a kid, I used to say “augy” to refer to something stinky. It is not a word, nor has it made it into any usage dictionaries.  But, writers do coin new words. Rowling added “muggles” to the world and JRR Tolkein informed us of the habits of Hobbits and middle earth.  Shakespeare set new records introducing all sorts of words (puking, lackluster, metamorphize, obscene). I don’t think I’m quite that inventive. Augy may, in fact, be it for me.

So, are there any cool or intriguing new words you’ve seen lately?

By the way, if you’re interested in what a “kind of rapey” song is, check out Mr. Thicke.

About RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist who now writes fiction. She's reported for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, as well as the smaller publications Education Technology News and Campus Crime. She has two published novels, Life First and Second Life and blogs for Indies Unlimited and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. For exclusive content and first looks at her new work, sign up for the newsletter at
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4 Responses to The joy of new words

  1. Catherine Hollingsworth says:

    When my son was young, he liked to invent silly sounding names for words that he already knew. For instance, he renamed the word for nuts: “chuddabees”.

  2. Mel Parish says:

    I used the word ‘animalistic’ in a query letter to describe the conditions that a kidnap victim was being held in (caged and leashed) – the agent said he had to stop and think about it, which apparently is not a good thing in a query letter 🙂 Funnily enough, since then, (it was several years ago) I have seen the word used several times, so I’m obviously not the only one who ‘made’ it up. True, it was not in my dictionary, but the online dictionary defaults to animalism as the noun and includes animalistic as the adjective – and to be honest the definition makes it the perfect word for the description I wanted.
    Just think where we would be if nobody made words up!

    • RJ Crayton says:

      I always thought animalistic was a word, so I’m with you on that. And I certainly couldn’t imagine a world where no one made up words. That would be inhuman.

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