MRP here just catching up on some post-vacation reading, including a guest column by the aforementioned Erin McKean, who is of the mind those of us who might get in a twist about made-up sounding words should just, well, chillax:
Whenever I see “not a real word” used to stigmatize what is (usually) a perfectly cromulent word, I wonder why the writer felt the need to hang a big sign reading “I am not confident about my writing” on it. What do they imagine the penalty is for using an “unreal” word? A ticket from the Dictionary Police? The revocation (as the joke goes) of your poetic license? A public shaming by William Safire? The irony is that most of these words, without the disclaimer, would pass unnoticed by the majority of readers. (In case you noticed cromulent, that was invented in the 1990s for “The Simpsons.”)
She goes on:
[W]riters are giving up one of their inalienable rights as English speakers: the right to create new words as they see fit. Part of the joy and pleasure of English is its boundless creativity: I can describe a new machine as bicyclish, I can say that I’m vitamining myself to stave off a cold, I can complain that someone is the smilingest person I’ve ever seen, and I can decide, out of the blue, that fetch is now the word I want to use to mean “cool.” By the same token, readers and listeners can decide to adopt or ignore any of these uses or forms.
McKean invokes a few “wordish” words you might be familiar with (or familiar with cringing at, if that’s your bag): impactful, chillaxing, wackaloon, noirish, and huger, for starters.
Read the rest of “Chillax: If It Works Like a Word, Just Use It.”
In the meantime, all of this chatter brought to mind this strip from Overcompensating, recently invoked by our friends from Language Is the People’s (during an engaging discussion on Editrix about a word that is not made up but possibly banishable) for its use of another reviled made-up word: celebutante.
Do you eschew or embrace wordish words? This editutante (Paris Hilton, eat your heart out) invites you to share your faves.