Making Up Words

Like most people who work with words for a living, I relish in making up my own words, and in using my friends’ made-up words.

Take, for instance, my friend Michael. He is of a mind that if you add -ocity to the ending of nearly any word, you’ll have a measure of the initial word. When I used the made-up word buffidity today, quick as a lick, he changed it into buffocity, a much better word which I can now use to measure how buff I’m going to get after working out all summer long. As in, my buffocity is pretty low right now, but once I start lifting again, it’ll shoot through the roof.

Try it, it’s easy:

Dorkocity: See: the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons. Screech from Saved by the Bell. Both have high dorkocity.
Barfocity: A hot dog from the street vendor causes more barfocity than does a cheesesteak from Pat’s. Or it might be the other way around.
Shedocity. How much is your dog/cat/partner shedding these days?

And so on…

Another of my favorite made-up words is AFOG. Now, I’m not sure if acronyms count in the whole realm of made-up words, but humor me and pretend that they do. See, a while ago, I spent a bit of time working through some particularly challenging life issues with a therapist. She was a pretty hilarious woman, and at one point when I was lamenting having to go through yet ANOTHER learning experience, she whipped out a piece of paper are wrote this on it:


I looked at her quizzically. She said, “Another fucking opportunity for growth.” After I stopped laughing, I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it. Later, I shared it with my family. When my dad had heart surgery recently, we put his AFOG score on the whiteboard in his hospital room. “Hey Dad, on a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your AFOG today?” “Oh, about a 9.” We’re all convinced that the nurses in the CICU recorded that in his chart, not knowing quite what it was, but not wanting to NOT write it down either.

Now, whenever I do one of those things that isn’t so bright, but I learn something from the experience, I call it an afog.

The word snarky is one that has moved from the realm of made-up into common speech. It won’t be long before that one ends up in the OED, to be sure. I’ve been using it since the late 90s, when I was a librarian at a university in Iowa. My friend Beth and I would go out for Friday night beers every week and generally complain about our jobs (we’ve both since moved to new jobs that we are much better suited for). It was sometime during one of those Boulevard Wheat-induced hazes when she first used the word “snark” to describe what we were doing. I also use the word to describe my dog’s personality. In that context, it means something like “willfull disobedience, with no regard to the consequences.” Just this morning at the dog park, I called her Ms. Snarky-Barky.

Only recently have I heard other people using it. Now it’s been adopted in the vernacular, and I am happy for it.

What words have you all made up that I should start using? Do share in the comments section, please.