7 Easy Ways To Create New Words & Zingify Your Readers
Who said you have to be a slave of the dictionary? Have some fun, instead.
My first encounter with coined words was:
What catches your attention first — Obama, White House, or the coined words ‘hopey’ & ‘changey’?
Despite being beside two hot-shot words, the new words were precisely what baffled me. It felt odd — Something is not right.
An itch I couldn’t scratch. And I was stuck.
Well, that, my friend, was the HOOK.
And that set the wheels rolling. I was on a spree to collect NEW words, coined words, and invented words. And what I discovered is that coining one is not an alien technology — it’s quite doable.
[Disclaimer: Some words are coined by me and some have been already added to the dictionary but aren’t that popular yet.
There are also some that are coined by others. But, regretfully, I cannot credit them, since I haven’t documented that part.]
Coining new words (neologism) started long back
Actually, Shakespeare had ditched the dictionary and coined many words and phrases.
He is credited with having invented 1700 words!
Some are very common words that found their way into daily English — bedroom, gossip, inaudible, etc.
And some did not quite make it.
Godded — idolized, treated as a God
Smilets — a small smile, usually out of courtesy
Friended — to become a friend (you might have encountered this one in context with social media platforms)
If you want to delve more into his coined words, check out here. Use them.
The psychology behind using coined words
Remember when we started learning a language, the books would have loads of images. It is because our brain is programmed to connect better to visuals.
To test it, try saying CAT. And pause. Your brain would immediately bring up an image of a cat (or Garfield, if you are a big fan) for your reference.
So, what happens when you encounter a new/coined word?
Your brain goes — WAIT! WHAT?
And that’s the pause you want as a writer. A moment when your reader is lost and is at your mercy to find its way back.
That fraction of a second is your HOOK.
Some ‘don’ts’ while using new words
A thing or two to keep in mind before stepping into this game. Keep the dosage right, and the magic works JUST fine.
# Do not overdo it. Use it sparingly. It can put off readers when used in excess and might look like a show-off. Beware. Use one or max two new words. You don’t want your reader to pause at every corner trying to figure out — okay, now, what is this?
# Do not cook up something too drastic. Keep it within the vicinity of the intended word. Too much newness- and your readers are left scratching their heads. Try to stay close to the original word/meaning.
For example, you thought of ‘trunch’ — a word for tea-time snacking, similar to brunch. But it is not obvious from the word, right? But what would you say about ‘awfy’? It clearly means something related to ‘awful’.
# Do not repeat it too much. It might be tempting but refrain from this. The reader is bound to pause the first time it hits him. That’s enough. And that is what you desire. Trust me, the reader will carry that long after he has read the story. Maybe even note it down somewhere, if like me.
Now to the making part!
I am no Shakespeare, and I will admit I cannot conjure words just like that. But with my recently gained limited knowledge of this art, I can surely be of some help.
Well, there is no perfect recipe for this recipe. It’s a sort of trial-and-error thing, some mixing, some matching, some shuffling, and some planting.
For better understanding, I have put them in different segments.
1. Adding -er
Simple dimple. Just like a ‘doer’ being ‘one who does’, just add the suffix -er to
Deleter — one who deletes
He was like a deleter of my problems in life.
Counter — one who counts
Randomizer — one who does random something
Life is a great randomizer, till we start seeing the sequence in it.
2. Adding — ey/y/fy
Just like David Litt’s ‘hopey’, ‘changey’.
Take a noun and add — ey to make a nouney adjective. Just like jump and jumpy, catch and catchy, actually.
Hate — hatey
Mad — mady/madey/mad-mod/mad-dam(n) [just came up with a couple more]
Grammarly is going madey/mad-dam(n) with my string of coined words — I can see it pulling its hair!
Zingify — add some zing!
Picklfy — to put someone in trouble
3. By nature of the job
Well, a bedsheet is nothing but a sheet put on the bed. And study-table. Going by the same principle, what if we extrapolate this to other things?
Ship — sea-steed, wave-crasher
The lone wave-crasher battled its way through the storm, living up to its name.
(Good) Speaker — crowd-magnet, mass-hypnotiser
She is the new-age mass-hypnotizer that can hush a stadium with her first word.
CHALLENGE: Now, let’s see how you cook up words. Give me something for a laptop.
4. Adding ‘lessness’
I mean -less OR -ness.
I used some in my recent stories — distractionless writing. And nowhereness.
Enoughness — sufficiency
Coffeeness — the degree of coffeeish qualities
The coffeeness of the cafe reminded her of him all the more, with her mind racing back to the warmth of his hands around the cup.
And — less in something like:
Uberless — a place that has no Uber service
The city girl was baffled at the uberless lanes of the country.
5. Adding — sy
Like -ish, -sy can also bring around a new twist in the usual words.
Hatesy — full of hatred
Salesy — full of sales qualities
The representative was taught not to sound too salesy.
6. Pour some — sauce
Awesomesauce — awesome
Weaksauce — weak
Do you see how it brings along a different flavorful taste into the sentence? Similarly, you can add this suffix to:
Mettlesauce — courage
and several others.
The young soldiers lacked the mettlesauce of the veterans and soon threw in the towel.
7. The superlative angle
I came across this interesting word:
Winningest — most successful
He is by far the winningest coach in the whole country.
Illegalest — most illegal
Handsomest — most handsome
This one is an easy-recipe actually.
I know it might sound repetitious, but too much of it is surely going to ruin the show.
I know cooking up something new is very smart. And the temptation to declare the same to the world is tough. But, always remember reader first, writer last. So, keep a check.
I am sure you also must have encountered some/many new words. Do share. Did any new words come to your mind while you were reading this?
I would love to know.