I don’t always use my vocabulary to its greatest extent, but I’ve definitely been the that lady people have arched an eyebrow at when I used the right word, and they thought I was using a ten-cent word to sound superior. Sometimes, I just like to be precise.
I like words. I like knowing the connotations that distinguish different options in my thesaurus.
I’m what you might call an amateur etymologist — a person who studies words, their meanings, and the history behind them. I’m a huge fan of the website etymonline.com (just be sure not to confuse me with the bug-loving entomologists.)
For the whole of society, people have been continually creating new words, when the ones they had just wouldn’t do. We see it every day with new technologies and new slang. Tons of the so-called greats they teach you in English literature have done it. From Dickens, to Milton, to the ever-famous-for-it Shakespeare.
Now, I’m sure there are experts that will argue with me. And I know the French are quite particular about allowing new words into their language.
But, for me? If you use a word, and people can understand from the context what you intended, it’s a word.
Maybe they can tell because they recognize the root word that you’ve just verbified.
Maybe they can tell because because your actions demonstrated its meaning.
Science-fiction and fantasy writers often find themselves inventing dozens of terms for their magic or technological systems.
But, you don’t have to be in a make-believe world for a made up word to have meaning.
Language exists to convey a thought — a concept. If you’ve successfully conveyed your meaning, that’s all it takes for a word to be real. At least to me.
What’s your opinion on created words? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Can’t live without them?
Do you have any favorites?