Second Cousins and Redheaded Stepmothers

Okay, I’m not redheaded. I’m an enhanced blond. But “enhanced blond” didn’t have the same rhythm to it.

I’m thinking about words today. More precisely, the right words. One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is, “Use the right word, not its second cousin.”

I love expanding my vocabulary, but I totally suck at crossword puzzles and have a hard time remembering exactly what it was that caused me to walk into the kitchen and open the pantry door. New words slip out of memory like a greased weasel if I don’t use them repeatedly to an annoying level.

I think that’s why I love made-up words so much. Here are a few:

Franzenfreude:  frustration with literary critics’ apparent preference for works by white male authors, such as Jonathan Franzen.

Sheening: to behave like Charlie Sheen.

Caranoid: Paranoid, but correct.

Gargonzola: the cheese that is simply too hard to carve and too ugly to eat.

Lately I’ve been thinking to myself, in regards to certain situations, there ought to be a word for that! If I’ve learned anything  during my short time blogging, it is that there are some fantastically witty people lurking about. I’d love to see your take on words for any of the following definitions:

  1. The drips of condensation from apartment window air conditioning units that land on you as you walk on the city sidewalks under them.
  2. The act of scalding someone in the shower because you flushed the toilet.
  3. The attempt of a child to answer a question without moving his lips, in erroneous belief that if his lips don’t move, he won’t get in trouble, no matter what he says.
  4. The lure of the silent late night hours that keep you up way past when you should be sleeping, simply because no one is bothering you.

If you don’t have a word for one of these, tell me, what’s your favorite made-up word?


39 thoughts on “Second Cousins and Redheaded Stepmothers

  1. 1. Citysweat – ACK!! Got citysweat on the back of my neck!
    2.Flushfire – Don’t use the jon while the shower is running… causes a flushfire on whoever is in there!
    3. Mumblieing – I saw your footprints in the spilled chocolate frosting! Don’t try to mumblieing your way out of it!
    I got nuthin for #4, but it’s my favorite part of the day for sure!

  2. Ha! I love this post idea. I was telling my husband last night about how, when I was little and carried a blankie, that I’d ball up part of it so I could hold it in my fist and suck my thumb. I called the balled up blankie part a “Gutchel” (pronounced GOOTCH-ul) and soon everyone else in my family did, too. I don’t know how I came up with the word, but I was hysterical last night remembering it. I kind of want to reinvent the word to mean something else, so I can start using it again. Maybe when booty shorts ride up, it should be called a gutchel.

    Anyway (Ha!), I love the 1-4 definitions. Here’s my first stab at words for them:
    1. Condemnsation
    2. Flash Fry (As in, “I pulled a flash fry on my little brother this morning.”)
    3. Smurmuring. (Not so punny, but doesn’t that sound like the right word for it?)
    4. InsMOMnia

  3. “InsMOMnia” is great. And “Smurmering” also, perfect, gojules!
    So far, JM, your commentors have done a most excellent job elaborating those definitions here with good, new words. I’ve nothing to add…
    As kids, (and there were 9 in my immediate family) we were desperate to create a cuss word that our Mother couldn’t punish us for. We formed a committee, and decided it would be most efficient to gather together every curse word we could think of, and smush them all together into one giant, most offensive curse. I am not sure of the exact spelling (for we dare not write it down, with it’s long definition of swears) but it went something like this…”Funnemineema!”

    This foul expletive was blurted at someone with deepest sincerity and harshest intentions in the heat of anger and distress around our house. And because our Mother could not legally punish us, and we were not technichally even required to confess this to the priest in the creepy, dark little confessional box, well, that word survived for years. Or maybe just a few months. It’s hard to tell. But we were inventive little rascalls, that’s for sure.

  4. My made up curse words are “fuzzbucket” and “beaver dam!”
    I do like “citysweat,” but I wanted to take a crack at this wordsmithing experiment.
    (By the way, Lewis Carroll called words put together from parts of other words “portmanteau words.”!)
    #1. ACP as in “I just got AC peed on. Beaver dam!”
    #2. “Blushing” as in “burned” and “flushing” Yes, I know it’s taken, but words are repurposed all the time, and it perfectly describes the effect on your skin.
    “I’m gonna get you back for blushing me, you twerp!”
    #3. slalking as in “silent talking” to be pronounced “slocking” as in “Don’t slock at me young man! Talk properly!”
    #4. “Darkfullness” from “dark” (duh!) and “peacefullness ” “I meant to go to bed, but the darkfullness was just too quiet to resist.”
    Man, this would make a great blog, don’t you think?

    1. These are fantastic portmanteau words. You get extra props for “blushing”. Fuzzbucket and beaver dam are good ones too- my #2 is fond of saying “Fudge nuggets!”

  5. I say academical for anything that sounds smart. And swoonworthyness for, well that’s pretty self explanatory.

  6. Can a canine take a crack at them?
    For the first one how about “conditidrizzle.”
    Number two – “Brown boiling” them.
    Maybe a little latin influence on #3 – “liplockusinnocenti.”
    Hows about “Midnight Gladness” for the last one.
    Speaking of keeping those lips locked – if you’ve seen my last post that’s the trick to calling the gators in the video.

  7. Here in the Land Of Oops our favorite made-up word is “skunned.” It’s used to describe anything from a minor scratch to a brush with near death. (As in: He went out for a ride and came home with a skunned-up horse.) Problem is, it can be hard to interpret, especially over the phone. So my standard response to this statement is, “How skunned-up is skunned-up?”

    As always, great stuff here!

    1. See? Land Of Oops … I forgot to give the origins of skunned: It’s a cross between skinned (As in: road rash) and stunned (As in: knocked senseless), which really covers a lot of ground, don’t you think? 🙂

  8. I am not about to match wits with the gods who went before me here. I’m just going to lurk and take notes. More and more, the word I need flies out of my head before I can say it, leaving me a stammering mess. So I am constantly making up words on the spot. I’m going to try to file some of these away…just for variety.

  9. I’m not very good at making up words but how bout “momtopia” for #4. I’m in momtopia right now, as a matter of fact.

    BTW, Franzenfreude is AWESOME. That douchebag gets on my last nerve. Puke.

      1. Oh, you should read at least one, just for credibility’s sake. 🙂 He’s a tricky little beast. He can write some brilliant stuff and you find yourself wondering why you don’t (or aren’t supposed to) like him. Read on. He reminds you soon enough.

  10. All these words have me snorting coffee this morning.
    I love making up words and now I have a few more for my arsenal. Can’t offer anything up though. Need more coffee.
    great post.

  11. Love. This. Post. (On my blog today, 7yo Vivian made up the word Gas Hole, which I love.


    1. Con-damn-sation
    2. My-entire-childhood (or Get-Leanne-Out-Of-The-Shower-Quickly)
    4. Twitter

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