If you don’t know what something is called, you can make up a word for it — or perhaps a word to describe it. I guess that’s nothing new; every word in the dictionary must have come from someone.
I was amused recently when I heard an episode of “Says You” on public radio featuring a segment on made-up words. “Says You” is a game show that enlists a panel of well-read folks who try to explain the meaning of obscure words in the English language.
What surprised me was when the game went off on a tangent with the panel trying to guess the meaning of words taken from the Addictionary, which is sort of an alternative dictionary for made-up words not found in a regular dictionary.
So how does a game-show contestant define a word he or she has never heard before, a word that does not even exist? Thankfully, the made-up words used in the game were amalgams of recognizable words, so it was fun to hear the panelists struggle to find the definition of these new “words.” They were deemed correct only if their definitions matched those of the people who made up the words.
One that I recall was “bozone,” defined as “the substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating” — as in “bozone layer.” The panel had fun discussing how the word might relate to clowns.
Comedian Rich Hall did a routine on made-up words in the 1980s on the HBO program “Not Necessarily the News.” As Hall described them, these are “words that don’t appear in the dictionary, but should.”
Hall’s approach was to make up words for off-beat items and actions — and he was not constrained by using amalgams of existing words. He called his new words “sniglets.” The video on this page shows one of those early comedy sketches.
In support of the water-related theme of this blog, I located some newly invented words related to water:
Aquadextrous (ak-wa-DEK-trus) (adj.) Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub tap on and off with your toes.
Bathquake (BATH-kwake) (n.) The violent quake that rattles the entire house when the water faucet is turned to a certain point.
Detruncus (de-TRUNK-us) (n.) The embarrassing phenomenon of losing one’s bathing shorts while diving into a swimming pool.
Flowfright (FLO frite) (n.) The desperate attempt by a homeowner to talk his overflowing toilet into backing down.
Genderplex (JEN-dur-pleks) (n.) The predicament of a person in a theme restaurant who is unable to determine his or her designated bathroom (e.g., turtles and tortoises).
Hydralation (hi-dra-LAY shun) (n.) Acclimating oneself to a cold swimming pool by bodily regions: toe-to-knee, knee-to-waist, waist-to-elbow, elbow-to-neck.
Musquirt (MUS-kwirt) (n.) The water that comes out with the initial squirts of a squeeze mustard bottle.
Spubbling (SPUB-ling) (v.) The superhuman feat of trying to wash one’s hands and manipulate the “water saving” faucets at the same time.
Tepidacious (TEP-i-da-shus) (adj.) The act of setting the water temperature too cold before you enter the shower to ensure that you don’t get burned.
Thermalophobia (Thur-muh-lo-FO-be-uh) (n.) The fear when showering that someone will sneak in, flush the toilet and scald you to death.
Tubswizzle (TUB-swi-zuhl) (v.) To slide oneself back and forth in the bathtub in order to mix the too-hot water with the cooler water.
Others I found amusing:
Airdirt (AYR-dirt) (n.) A hanging plant that’s been ignored for three weeks or more.
Arachnoleptic fit (Ah-RAK-no-lep-tik fit) (n.) The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.
Bovilexia (bo-vil-EKS-ee-uh) (n.) The uncontrollable urge to lean out the car window and yell “Moo!” every time you pass a cow.
Dillrelict (dil-REL-ikt) (n.) The last pickle in the jar that avoids all attempts to be captured.
Doork (dawrk) n. A person who always pushes on a door marked “pull” or vice versa.
Dopeler effect (n.) The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
Downpause (DOWN-pawz) (n.) The split second of dry weather experienced when driving under an overpass during a storm.
Elbonics (el-BON-iks) (n.) The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater.
Fauxtography (n.) Altering a photographic image with editing software to create an image that appears real but is in fact misleading or untrue.
Flopcorn (FLOP-korn) (n.) The unpopped kernels at the bottom of the cooker.
Flosstitution (FLOS-tit-oo-shun) (n.) The act of using anything other than a waxed string product —i.e. matchbook covers —to clean between your teeth.
Ignoranus (IG-nor-A-nus) (n.) A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.
Intaxication (in-TAX-ik-a-shun) (n.) Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
Irritainment (ir-uh-TAYN-ment) (n.) Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them.
Mopeeps (MOH-peeps) (n.) People compelled to look through the curtain opening of your motel room as they pass by.
Newswafer (n.) An old newspaper that stays on a driveway so long that cars driving over it have turned it into a flattened pile of pulp. The only way to pick it up is with a snow shovel.
Peppier (peph-ee-AY) (n.) The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want fresh ground pepper.
Phonesia (fo-NEE-zhuh) (n.) The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.
Pigslice (PIG-slys) (n.) The last unclaimed piece of pizza that everyone is secretly dying for.
Slotgreed (SLOT-greed) (n.) The habit of checking every coin return one passes for change.
Smellucination (smel-LOO-suh-NAY-shun) (n.) Thinking you smell something you really don’t.
Sofuse (SO-fyuse) (n.) The coins, combs, bobby pins and other detritus discovered in the corners under the seat cushions of a sofa, davenport or settee.
Solichair (SAHL-e-chair) (n.) A seat where a child caught misbehaving is made to sit.
Subnougate (sub-NEW-get) (v.) To eat the bottom caramels in a candy box and carefully replace the top level, hoping no one will notice.
Telecrastination (tel-e-kras-tin-AY-shun) (n.) The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you’re only six inches away.
Unipea-(YEW-ni-pee) (n.) A peanut with only one compartment.