Words Matter, Made-Up Edition

As my mantra is “Words Matter,” I’m fascinated by the etymology of words, how different cultures use language, and when people accidentally/purposefully misuse English. I’ve covered spelling bees, written about mondegreens and eggcorns, and advocated for the banishing of overused words. So, it’s probably not surprising that a friend caught my attention when he recently told me that he had to ‘inoculatte.’

With apologies to dictionaries everywhere:

Inoculatte (verb): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late. 

A made-up word that should be real (and IS in the urban dictionary). In researching the origin of the word, the earliest mention I can find is a 2006 Washington Post contest which asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. The results of the annual contest are behind a paywall so I’ve pulled out a few which amused me:

Cashtration (noun): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

Bozone (noun): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. Sadly, the bozone layer shows little sign of breaking down. 

I can’t tell if the original contest is still active but luckily another site called Wordplay Masters Invitational has kept the idea going for the last decade. They are accepting 2019 submissions now and here are a few of my favorites:

Fastborwarding: Fastforwarding through the boring parts of a movie.

Ablandonment: Leaving a tasteless meal unfinished.

Fambush: When a member of your family appears out of the blue (especially with needs and/or difficulties). Alternatively, when your entire family descends upon you without warning.

You can peruse all of the previous years’ winners or submit your own.

Words matter. Like life, words are constantly changing. Even if they are made up.

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