day 112: How to make up new words

Ted speaker Erik McKean is a lexiographer with an odd request First things first, what the heck is a lexicographer? A lexicographer is a person that compiles a dictionary. Erin is quick to point out that she doesn’t decide what the meaning of a word is – that’s everyone else’s job and she goes as far to say that we should “Go ahead, make up new words!”

We create new music, new art and invent things all the time so why not create new words asks Erin? I can think of one reason why this can be tricky. Sure I can come up with a new word in this very moment, but how on Earth am I going to let everyone know about it? Should their be a “new words” memo that needs to be sent out each day? Of course if you are the creator of The Big Bang Theory all it takes is a popular character dropping catchphrase -bazinga!

How to make up new words

If you do decide to make up a new word (or words) Erin has put together a list of six tips to make up new words.

  1. Steal words from other languages
  2. Compounding which is squishing words together e.g sandcastle
  3. Squish with force so that parts of a word fall off e.g brunch is a squished version of brunch and lunch
  4. Functional shift e.g ‘You take a word that acts as one part of speech, and you change it into another part of speech’
  5. formation which is basically making words smaller e.g Editor to edit
  6. Take the first letters of words to make up new abbreviated word e.g NASA

There you have it, Erin’s six tips to help you on your road to word making. If you have come up with a new word let me know all about it in the comment box below. Don’t forget to share it’s meaning!

Vanessa Rose