Words are wondrous things aren’t they? It never ceases to amaze me how 26 letters can be strung together in so many different ways to conjure up such a variety of emotions.
As someone whose livelihood depends on them, I am only too aware of how words are more powerful than guns and can do everything from inspiring greatness to inciting hatred.
Words – both in the written and verbal forms – can heal; they can hurt, they can make you laugh or cry and they can build bonds and break down ignorance.
Collectively, words are undoubtedly marvellous and can be life-changing.
But individual words can be just as phenomenal and some of us even have our favourite words because we like the way they sound or flow off the tongue.
Some of my own personal favourites include: “bombarded”, “kerfuffle”, “shenanigans” – because it just sounds so naughty – “agog”, “murmuring”, “festooned” and “razzmatazz”.
It seems I’m not alone in having words I like a lot as a quick straw poll around the office revealed a myriad (now there’s another good word!) of super sounding words.
One colleague loves “discombobulate”, while another is fond of “flabbergasted” and someone else offered up “quintessential.”
“Gluttonous”, “Superfluous”, “Wanderlust”, “Bumbling” and “Maleficent” recently made popular by the Disney villain were other good ones.
“Schadenfreude” was another good one, not just for the way it sounds but its meaning: “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.”
Worryingly, one person told me they liked the sound of the word: “chlamydia” while one co-worker wittily told me his top word was “Claret” while another retorted: “hometime.”
But who says we have to contain ourselves to words that actually exist as some of the best ones are the made-up ones.
I’m not talking the lazy text speak version of words of the LOL, (laugh out loud), IMHO (in my humble opinion) and TYVM (Thank you very much) type.
No, I’m talking more fantastical words which at the same time seem to make absolute sense and sound so right.
Before you say it, making up words is not immature – it’s just a way of keeping up with the rapid evolution of words.
And before I get in trouble with the editor – No, we don’t use made-up words in the paper – nor made-up stories whatever vicious rumours you’ve heard about us journalists.
But sometimes in life, makeshift words fill in the gap where no real word will do. Myself and a colleague made up a word the other day. It’s called “Murry” and the definition is: “Murry: to leave little coffee gremlins in the sugar by using a wet spoon.”
Use of it in a sentence is: “Stop murrying my sugar with your coffee!”
Feel free to use it in your every day life. But remember, we thought of it first.
My favourite childhood author Roald Dahl was the master of the made-up word. He created brilliant words such as “scrumdiddlyumptious”, “Oompa Loompa”, “gobblefunk” and “snozz-cumber”.
But Roald Dahl wasn’t alone in making up fabulous words. There’s “Quidditch” in Harry Potter, “Heffalumps” in Winnie The Pooh and Dr Seuss has all sorts of nonsensical words including “truffula trees” and “bar- ba-loots”.
And who can forget Lewis Carroll’s list of linguistic inventions?
Personally, I believe the world needs more made-up words and we all need to come up with a few new ones that should be included in the dictionary.
Some words are created by simply mashing two words together to get a new one and we use some of these in every day language such as “Brunch” to mean a mixture of breakfast and lunch and “Smog” to mean smoke and fog.
You could even eat your brunch with a “spork” (a hybrid of a spoon and fork).
But other words can be completely made up.
Some of the more hilarious suggestions I’ve heard are: “Textpectation” to mean: “The anticipation experienced while waiting for a text message to arrive” and “Cashtration”: the act of buying a house which renders a person financially impotent.”
I also like “Chairdrobe” and “Floordrobe”: “The act of piling clothes on a chair or on the floor instead of in a wardrobe. I have a few of those myself!
The changing world has spawned all sorts of new words and as far as I’m concerned, that’s: “Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious!”