Just the Right Word II

But suppose you can’t find the perfect word?  What then?  Well, if you’re as bold and creative as Lewis Carroll, you make one up.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


OK, I’ll admit it: I’m not that creative. Still, I confess to having made up a word or two myself.  The last one was a month or so ago, in Chapter 16 of The Adventures of Sir Kay:

“She was as lithe as a cat, although her movements had a certain deliberate languidity.”

Languidity is a portmanteau of liquidity and languid.  Definitely not as “outgrabe” as Carroll.  But unique nonetheless.

SusanH threw down the gauntlet in her comment to my Friday post.  “I’m thinking of inventing “virgin words” (per Jana) for laugh, smile, chuckle, snort. I need at least five more!”  The thousands of you not in my writers’ group, unless you were psychic, had no idea what she was talking about.  So I’ll share.

“Jana” is Jana Moore, a powerful–“brillig,” some might say–young poet in our writers’ group.  Last session she shared with us this poem, from which the reference “virgin words” comes:

the hum

I want to taste a virgin word
while I still have a human tongue
I wonder if such a sound would come
or whether I’d be
the chosen one to recognize
its patterned syllable
how many combinations
can the lips and tongue and teeth produce
with finite vowels and consonants
and the pitch of my woman’s throat
I’d like to know
if it’s possible
to learn a yet unspoken sound
to utter the hum of unused space
and summon the language holy-ground


In addition to sharing Jana with you, I’m also passing along SusanH’s challenge.  How about offering her a virgin word for laugh, smile, chuckle, or snort?  Or if you’re not into verbs today, how about grumpy, happy, sleepy, or sneezy?  I offered lippleup for smile, but I don’t think that’s going to “win.”

All entries will be feted; the best will be praised unduly.  Get your entries in today!

JanaMoore crop1Jana Moore

ps:  in case you missed it, SusanH commented, “Laughing–or lipplingup–at that.”  But of course, the correct usage would be, “I’m lippleupping at that.”


4 thoughts on “Just the Right Word II

  1. All help here will be appreciated. And did you know that “selfie” is the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in the U.S.? And that there are derivatives as in “shelfie”? Which is, of course, a selfie taken in front of your bookshelves.

    See? Here is an opportunity to make up a word that will be immortalized next year. Plus you get my sincere appreciation. What a deal.

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