Thursday, April 26, 2012

What's your favorite fake word? Win a signed book for sharing!

I've been writing for my supper long before anyone paid me to make stuff up as a novelist (though I suppose one could argue I've made stuff up both as a journalist and a marketing geek, but I digress).

Not long ago, I was handed a block of text and asked to jazz it up a little. The copy was surprisingly well-written, until I got to the word "impactful."

I'd never seen it before, so I did some googling (pausing long enough to appreciate that "googling" has become a verb). A quick visit to confirmed what I suspected:

Impactful: A non-existent word coined by corporate advertising, marketing and business drones to make their work sound far more useful, exciting and beneficial to humanity than it really is. This term is most frequently used in team building seminars and conferences in which said drones discuss the most effective ways to convince consumer zombies to purchase crap they clearly do not need or even want.

I shared my findings with the boss, fully expecting pushback (depending on the dictionary you consult, "pushback" isn't a word, either). After all, I once worked for CEO who was informed that a word he kept using didn't exist. Unconcerned, he had it emblazoned on an enormous plaque in the lobby.

But lucky for me, the boss who suggested "impactful" took things in stride.

"It may not be a real word," he said, "but it should be."

I can't argue with that.

One of my favorite words in the English language is "crazynuts." I'm reminded daily by my iPhone, my email program, and the spellcheck function in my word processing software that "crazynuts" is not a real word.

I don't care.

Because sometimes, there's no better way to tell my gentleman friend how I feel than to say I'm crazynuts about him. If an acquaintance is acting particularly wackadoo (one of my agent's favorite fake words), I can think of no better word to describe the behavior than crazynuts.

Incidentally, while crafting this blog post, I was in the middle of an email exchange with my agent and the publisher of my interactive fiction title, Getting Dumped. When someone used the words "romancy" and "mystery-y," it was all I could do to keep from shrieking, my point exactly!

Do you have a favorite non-word you firmly believe should be a real word? Please share!

And since I haven't given out a free book for awhile, how about I award a signed copy of Believe it or Not to the person with the best fake word?

Share and define your favorite made-up word in the comments, and tell me why it should be a real word. I'll pick a winner at noon on Sunday, April 29 and will announce it in next Monday's post.

Happy wordsmithing!


Lynnanne said...

I've already won, and read, Believe It or Not... but I couldn't help but to share my favorite word that spewed from my mouth during a bit of mild road rage.... and that word?


Anonymous said...

My favourite fake word is Squee. Or more aptly spelt: squeeeeeee when overly excited about, say, winning a novel contest? ;)

Michelle Wolfson said...

Wait, wackadoo isn't a real word??

I like how you say "someone" used the terms romancey and mystery-y so that we might trick people into thinking that you have an agent who knows the English language.

Whatever. Making up words is awesome. No, it's better than awesome. What's the word for it? Oh, right. It's...


Musical Life said...

Squee's already taken, I guess I'll go with Glomp as my favorite fake word.

Peter said...

My favorite made-up word is 'Angstian' (which pretty much defines everything ever written by anyone in High School): i.e.: 'Angstian poetry'

It's a word I've been using for decades and one of my favorite goals in life is to popularize it until it becomes the real word it deserves to be.

Tim Barzyk said...

My favorite unwords are ones I've used so much, that I'm convinced they really are: 1) whatchamathingy, 2) do-jobber, and 3) (variation) thingamabob.

Obviously, when I don't know what something is called, I call it something that doesn't exist.

Ah well.

Tim Barzyk
scienceforfiction at gmail dot com

Sarah J Schmitt said...

I've been using this for years:

Conversating: The act of having a conversation.

Skye said...

My favorite made-up word is Fantabulous. It looses the Fabulous that make the thing sound made up and the Fantastic that makes it sound made up and comes up with a word that sound like more than the normal person gets to experience. Fantabulous. It was fantabulous. Replaces Awesome as a work describing the totally wonderful and hard to believe.

Your books are Fantabulous. Can't wait for the next and kind of with I had a Kindle so I could read Getting Dumped..

Meredith said...

Diangulate: To position yourself diagonally on a bed so as to make it impossible for others to join you. Usually occurs at midnight when you get up to go to the bathroom (peepulate) and come back to find the husband has repositioned.

However, I cede to "tweedlefuck." That's awesome.

Carole said...

Someone I work with regularly uses the word "gregacious" to describe enthusiastic, energetic, sociable people, particularly women. I believe it's a combination of vivacious and gregarious, and I'm pretty sure he has no idea that it's not a real word - and I'm not going to be the one to tell him, that's for sure!

Sierra said...

It's not a made-up word, but we don't use it as intended: sherpa.

We use it as a verb. As in, "Honey, would you sherpa the groceries and I'll grab the cat litter?"

Sherpa: to carry a large amount of stuff from the car to the house. Especially when, like us, you live on the third floor with no elevator.

Jason said...

I use "squoze" all the time and it drives my wife crazy. It's the past tense of squeeze, right? Okay, it's not, but it should be. Rolls off the tongue much better than "squeezed."

Seven said...

One of my favorite made up words is WTFery. Not only is it phony texting lingo, it's a word too! I first saw it over at Smart Bitches Trashy Books, where they use it as a tag. It's perfectly appropriate. I can think of lots of things in various romances I've read that can only be categorized as WTFery.

HistorySleuth said...


My favorite made up word is one my husband uses on his boy scouts when they ask why they have to do some community service project or other, "Because I voluntold you."

C. Amrhein
twitter @historysleuth1

Julie Glover said...

Well, shut the front door! I just did a blog post on Wednesday about making up words:

I'll nominate my son's word: infinimore. He defines it as "more than infinity." Usage: "I love you infinimore." Yes, he says that to me, and I say it back.

And of course I realize that in the not-so-distant future, he'll turn that charm off me and onto teenage girls. Heaven help me.

Anonymous said...

In the breakroom at work today I accidentally asked someone if they wanted a glup. Somehow I was thinking of the words glass and cup and glup came out.

Kristi said...

Love this! My favorite non word recently is: Amazeballs.

I use it all the time and feel guilty because it sounds all teenagery and I'm so way beyond my teenage years. Still, amazeballs is just too fun NOT to use.

Think the non-official definition is something that is beyond amazing, something you love, something that makes you smile so much you want to say silly words. :)

LaTejanaFria said...

My favorite is the word I made up to describe a pompous attitude: pompitude.

LaTejanaFria said...

My favorite is the word I made up to describe a pompous attitude: pompitude.

Lindsay said...


Green onion.

middle child said...

Medimathical. Because it was one of my dad's words that he thought was real. Or is it?

erin said...

mudderfuddger. Cuz I can't get in the habit of grown up swearing cuz I work in a pediatric clinic. Ironically, I use that more at home than at work. I also use Fantabulous a lot.

R.S. Emeline said...

Well, when I started my own blog I coined a term, Fictzophrenic and Fictzophrenia. I even put them in urbandictionary, because I'm that big of a nerd. To my way of thinking a fictzophrenic is a person who hears the voices of their characters and then writes about them. In other words, a writer of fiction.

However, I also think douchewaffle is a great word.

Julie Rector said...

I have two, which I use all the time, created by my husband and his siblings in their childhood. The first is "qua-nong" (alternately spelled "cue-nong"). It's derived from the sound effect that occurs when something dramatic or surprising occurs on classic episodes of Star Trek. Our current usage:

"The bathroom door wasn't locked, and I ended up walking in on someone!"

The other word is kirchkening, which is meant to represent teeth chattering.


"Wow, it's kirchkening in here. Turn up the heat!"


"I almost got into a car accident this afternoon!"
"Yikes! That's pretty kirchkening!"

J.R.Mann said...

My and my friend's favorite? Bitchtits. I can't claim credit, though I'm not exactly sure who came up with it. All I know is that I use it.. a lot.

Bitchtits: 1)A name you can only call your best friend because anyone else wouldn't get it. 2)Obscenity you yell.

ex. 1) "Hey bitchtits, what are you doing this weekend?"

2) "Bitchtits! You just dropped fifty pounds on my toe!"

Meredith said...

I'm posting again because my son reminded me of his favorite made up word: "froddity" (as in, frozen oddity.) It's the part of the ice cream that gets weird when you leave the container out on the counter and then refreeze it.

Usage: "Hey, mom, can you give Luke the froddity? He just drowns it in chocolate sauce anyway."

Nicole said...

My favorite one is "sweettitties" I say it about everything, found an awesome upfront parking spot? SweetTitties! Found my favorite, never on the shelves wine? SweetTititties!
Ball-sack is another favorite, bad parking spot? Ballsack. Of course this is a real word, but I'm sure it was not designed for the purpose of cursing out a bad parking spot. But it works, all that matters.

Eric Indiana said...

I have a whole list of non-words that should be words: