made up words
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Picture Credit: Wikimedia, Booksworm

This is all about made-up words. Here's one that Mari came up with:


That's right. It's a problem whereby you have three possibilities to consider instead of two.

++Added 3rd Feb 2010: I am reliably informed that 'Trilemma', far from being made up, is an actual word. So we coined a new one: 'Tetralemma' which means, naturally enough, four options instead of two. My thanks to Maddy for pointing this out.++

From Kyandra Letts


(v) ... A cross between hug and cuddle. Lasts slightly longer than a hug and is good when comforting mildly upset people. My family and I have been using it for several years, first coined by me when I was 7.

23rd May 2012

From Jasper:


(n) Talking bollocks, but with more expansive arm movements

From Bettina Burghardt:


(n) A steadily growing list of made-up words invented by people who feel compelled to take an active part in the development of language.

From Ken Bugajski:


(n) the state of being simultaneously confused and at the end of one's wits.

From Tobias


Adj: "As in 'he has an attitude', but with a hat on."


"the inheritence of something, or expulsion by law"

From Phil Leader


(v) To arrange matters such that to other people your job appears to be so complex and technical that nobody else (least of all your boss) can understand exactly what it is you do, thus leaving you to do pretty much what you want they way you want to do it.

It is not enough to simply have a job that your boss does not understand (in my experience this is very common). The word describes the process and effort of creating this situation from an otherwise fairly ordinary job.

A combination of job and obfusticate.

From Squirrel Mitchell


This came about whilst munching a fresh cream Victoria Sponge Cake from Tesco (other supermarkets are available). My beloved tried to say this is really nice fluffy sponge. What he actually said was this is really nice flunge.

From Martin Ross

dex (and a few more)

I can't really take credit for many of these, as I have come across them in several places (including a few in Terry Pratchett books), but if you remove prefixes from words, you can end up with a number of new (or possibly lost) words, such as: -

  • dex (the opposite of an index!)
  • ebriated
  • ept
  • gister (you have to do it again to register)
  • gurgitate
  • gruntled
  • liminary (as in pre-)
  • molish
  • peat (re-)
  • scrutable
  • servation
  • struction
  • ternal (see below)
  • tithesis
  • tribution
  • whelmed

English is also so inconsistent. If the opposite of internal is external, then surely the opposite of increment should not be decrement?

From Terry Rood


(noun) a woman who acts gay. Anne Heche and Lindsay Lohan are noted thesbians.

From Rowena Sudbury


(verb) - a cross between "prevent" and "avoid". You do this to stop bad stuff happening. (Made up by Tom, aged 13)


(verb) to scratch gently, e.g. when tickling a cat behind the ears. (I've used this word for years).

From Gail Radecki:


A combination of "flabby" and "fabulous" that indicates a less-than-enthusiastic response to something. It's not quite sarcasm ("Oh, that's just fabulous, Doris, I always WANTED my front window broken") and not truly negative ("Bill's looking a bit flabby these days, isn't he?"). It's more along the lines of "Well, that encounter was just flabulous, don't you agree?" following the first concert of a group of 10-year-old clarinetists. The 10 year olds aren't likely to notice the "l" and have their feelings hurt, and your adult counterparts who suffered through the hour-long experience can enthusiastically agree without lying. On an aside, my 15-year-old HATES this word, so I use it with abandon.

From Catherine Affleck:


Apparently to be without this Ruth person, whoever she may be, makes one a terrible and unkind person, therefore to be with her, or full of her causes one to be kind and caring. (UK spelling: Ruthful)

From Jane Tesh:


The opposite of entrance.

From Chris Horrocks:


What can it possibly mean..... Well if i can be disgruntled (displeased, discontented) then surely I can be "gruntled" (pleased, contented).... can't I?

From Shari Cohen:


To be both bellignorant and ignorant at the same time. This condition is most commonly found in one's boss and other work related superiors, as well as "difficult mothers and mothers-in-law", etc.

"Sally's mother in law became extremely bellignorant when she suggested that her mother in law should not wear white to Sally's wedding, insisting that the mother of the groom had every right to wear white."

"The level of bellignorance in this company is simply astounding! Nobody appears to know anything, nor do they appear to want to know anything, and nobody at the top appears to care that nobody below them actually knows anything."

From Jake Eskedal:


Created by marrying "eloquent" and "loquacious", specifically meaning: "the ability to create brand new words, that sound as if they've always, truly existed, and mean exactly what you think they would".

John B: "...While I was telling my sons about your description of Hamlet's indecisiveness, my son John Michael responded, "Dad, they'll have to come up with a new electronic component. Instead of a diode, a triode, which can have three states: positive, negative, and hamletive, meaning it can't decide!"

This let to a discussion of a completely new type of "trinary" computer, one that relies on three possible states, rather than two. Probably difficult to program. I know what you're thinking, what a disfunctional family!

So here's the made up word:

Hamletive (adj)

The state of an object or person that is neither positive nor negative, neither yes nor no, because it simply can't decide.."

This is one from Raffie Jackson:


One of those padded, puffy envelopes.

This is one from Adam Rivers:


The inability to look someone in the eye, because if you didn't know it already, I'm sure you will enjoy it.

I love it not only for its fabulous utility, it really proves there is a word for everything!, but it also sounds like the way it feels when you think you have something in your eye, but don't. (If that makes sense? Abstract I know, but it's the same principle as cranberry juice tasting like pain, and corned beef tasting like headaches.)

It also sounds like a form of address for a very short Pope, 'Yes, yes, indeed, your Opsablepsiance'.

(Jasper note: I was going to disqualify this for not being made up, but then thought that it had to be made up by someone, somewhere..)

This is one from Fiona Sawyer:


Something so appallingly shithouse as to be worthy of special recognition.

This is one from Josh van Konkelenberg:


My friends and I use the noun 'grob' to describe the awkward silence that invariably descends at some point in a long conversation or meeting.

A grob is either laid, planted, or dealt - thus 'to lay a grob', or (as an antidote to the said effect) 'that was one hell of a grob you dealt us, Timmy.'

A grob often has an almost physical presence: a large, invisible, jellyfish like mass which floats between the members of the group. We feel the word is onomatapaeic, as much as a word can be when describing something essentially silent.

Two from Sophie McManus:


cross between faffing about and prattling, like when someone's trying to delay telling you something...like my brother when he's broken something and doesn't want to tell my mum


when you are looking at something confusing - cross between 'squiz' and 'puzzling'

This is one from Caitlin Baggins in Australia:


[chohl-der] noun. The comfiest part of someone's shoulder for a squirrel or kitten to sit on.

Here's the story: I roleplay as a shapeshifter who prefers to stay in the form of a squirrel or kitten. My friend and I met up one day, and we were walking around. (This is all online, remember.) I got bored of walking, and pounced up to his shoulder, as I often do. However, this day my grip on reality slipped - just a bit - and I instead landed on his choulder! I found it quite comfy, and I've used it on there quite often since.

This is one from Emma Sparre-Slater:


It is the act of someone or something accidently treading on someone or something smaller than themselves. No harm or upset is intended and the stampler would usually be unaware that they had stampled on someone/thing.

This is one from Carol in DC:


Odd? Not at all. Carol explains: "One who tries to clean your teeth and save your soul simultaneously.

True story: Some time back a more than usually bad day at work was made worse by having to go to the dentist and finding my regular hygienist was out sick. The substitute asked how my day was going, and I griped and moaned, and she, instead of saying something innocuous like "Oh, that's too bad" suggested that I pray about it.

I'm sure she meant to be helpful, but really! I wouldn't expect anyone to offer to clean my teeth in a church. Then again, it's been a while since I've been in a church; maybe things have changed.."

This is one from Raymond Elferink:

Martin - (verb)

"I have a friend called Martin and when we where students you could always find him in his room playing computer games in his underwear, day and night.

Sometimes you would find him sitting on the tip of his chair with his legs crossed and only his toes touching the ground, nervously and rhythmically shaking his legs because he had to go to the toilet, but did not want to leave the game. He could do this for hours!

Since then we and a lot of our friends (most of whom do not even know Martin and some of whom don't even speak Dutch) use his name as a verb to refer to this. E.g.: 'I'm sorry, but now I really have to go to the toilet. I have been martinning for an hour!'

So I suggest 'Martin' as a verb for desperately needing to go to the toilet, but for some reason delaying it."

Two from Melissa Shea of WA:


"My daughter used this often when she was 3. It was her contraction for "am not". It makes complete sense, as we have so many other contractions that we use, why not amn't?


"This I know has a definition already, but we use it in a completely different way. If there is something you've forgotten and it comes back to your memory, you remember it. If it is in your mind already, it is membered. Once you remove it completely from your mind, it is dismembered. Make sense, I think?"

Three from Sarah Bates:


"Fishy legal testimony.."


"That category of things which go unnoticed or have been easily forgotten.."


"Mass plural, That category of things which generally go unmentioned because to mention them would be to embarrass oneself by stating the obvious."

It is amongst both the obvia and the oblivia that both of these categories are , like 'right' and 'left', viewpoint-dependent. Items in one person's obvia might be found in someone else's amazemia or incomprehensibilia.

This is one from Elijah Lawal:


"An amalgamation of fantastic and fabulous. A word I coined when I was trying to describe just how amazing my houseparty my best mate had missed was."

And from Jason Booth:


"I have no idea what it could mean, but doesn't it sound clever, ey? "

Stacey has this one:


"when I was 12 to describe an injection. While the shot itself is external, the sera enters the bloodstream and becomes internal."

Rick Seven (Great name, hey?) gives us this one:


"This is the flat, rounded corner that gets created when you drop your bar of soap in the shower. Sometimes the drop would result in a 'sidesploop', an enlongated oval shape on the edge of the bar of soap. I believe that the creation of rounded soap was the first step to eliminate splooping, followed by the advent of body wash and those puffy exfoliating things on a string. (I know it is a 'loofa', but i refuse to accept that as a real word until 'sploop' is recognized as one.) But even with these steps to curtail it, the sploop remains a continuing menace to a perfect linear soap.."

Phew. I'm glad we got that sorted out - I've been trying to find a name for this precise thing for years..

Send your made-up words to me at: jasper (at) jasperfforde.com


We call someone 'A Black-Catter' if they have something that's better than yours. (As in "If you had a black cat, X would have one blacker'.

In the same vein, do you have a word for the person who buys a camera or a car or mobile phone or something, and then because they wouldn't be such a fool to buy something that's not the best there is, keeps on going on about how their camera/phone/car is the best there is, and everything else is hopelessly inferior? I know a few people like this, and I've never managed to think up a good enough name to do them justice. I bet the Germans have a good word for it.

This suggestion is from Steven Caldecourt:


"As in "don't be such a faffin smugzoid Kevin"."

...And another suggestion from Rick and Stacy 'I'm now thirty' Seven


"My wife and I do have a term for those people who always claim they have the best of anything and everything.

We call them a 'Bucket' courtesy of Hyacinth from the old BBC comedy 'Keeping Up Appearances'. After spending whatever miserable amount of time with a person of this demeanor, one of us will say, "What a Bucket," to which the other person must respond, "You mean Boo-kay"

Then we do our best to avoid being around them ever again. That show is still making an appearance on our public television stations here in Utah.."

Page updated Sep 28th 5th 2009