Five Ways To Invent A Word

Have you ever heard of Squornshellous Zeta? Or have you jumped in any puddle-wonderful puddles?

These are some terrific words made up by Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and e.e.cummings, a poet famous for his beautifully rhymed poetry.

Inventing words is fun and interesting to do. You can use made up words in poetry, Valentine’s Day cards, novel writing, slang and in social media conversations. You can name businesses or pets with them or even make a lovely poem to make your heart sing. Most of all, if they’re delicious enough, you can use them to stun and kill your audience (just kidding!)

In this hub, I will share a few methods to coax some new words from you using wordplay. You might like to try some of these with your children or friends as some of them can be quite amusing. I learned many of these techniques through a writing course and the exercises seem to stimulate the creative mind and make you feel poetic. I even used one of my invented words to name a business of mine – Inkfluence.

Just think, if the author of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy couldn’t make up new words, how much less rewarding the book would be to read. Or if e.e.cummings couldn’t make up his own words, his poetry probably wouldn’t be famous for its beautiful rhymes and enchanting reasons.

So, let’s invent some new words!

You can create words with random exercises, mathematical formulas and the mixing of letters into words to make new ones.
You can create words with random exercises, mathematical formulas and the mixing of letters into words to make new ones.

Method 1: Paper Columns

  1. Take a piece of paper and fold it into 2 columns.
  2. In the first column, write a list of 15 emotions, adjectives (describing words) or other objects that are special to you. There should be 1-2 words for each item.
  3. Fold over the paper so you can’t see the first column.
  4. Go away for 10 minutes and have a cup of coffee.
  5. In the second column, write a list of 15 objects that are special to you. There should be 1-2 words for each item.
  6. Open up the paper and see if any of the words sound good when put together.

My Results

Here are the words I used:

First Column
Second Column
Marvellous
Cacti
Love
Photo
Stars
Silver
Melancholy
Ring
Prickly
Mug
Slurp
Guinea Pig
Hairy
Harlequin
Mellow
Spirograph
Dusty
Seed Bead
Delicious
Mink
Awesome
Design
Starjump
Facebook
Tickle
Diary
Massage
Quilt
Watermelon
Book

Method 1 Type Words

Other words I have created using this method:

Armchair Studio
Exfoliating Sideburns
Fartwhistle
Humsmells
Limelife
Lipstick Boy
Melodical Contours
Old Daylight
Opal Apple
Poetry Pancakes
Skytrees
Soap Abuse
Tender Snail
Turkish Hillsides

And here are the words/ideas I was able to invent:

Cacti Slurp
Mellowphoto
Starjump Silver
Watermelon Ring
Guinea Pig Massage
Harlequin Stars
Book Slurp
Mugmarvellous
Delicious Design
Ticklemink
Facebook Love

I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s some creative ones in there! If you work with a friend and do one column each and then swap for the second column, you’ll get even better words.

Method 2: Adding Two Words Together

  1. Pick a word, any word. For example, I picked the word “magic”.
  2. Find a couple of letters you can work with within that word, either at the front or end of the word. For example “ic” from “magic”.
  3. Find new words with either the front or the end bit matching. A dictionary might help! For example, in this case I found “icon”.
  4. If using the front of the word, you want the end of the second word to match. If using the end of the word, you want the front of the second word to match.
  5. Put the two words together to create the new word. Try some variations to see what you can come up with!

Examples

magic + icon = magicon
gnome + omelette = gnomelette
bread + adenoids = breadenoids
cat + attract = cattract (yes I was thinking of you, FlourishAnyway!)

Method 3: Adding Two Words Together Using Syllables

  1. Pick a word with two or more syllables in it. For example, I picked “shoestring”.
  2. Split the word into its component syllables, eg “shoe” + “string”.
  3. Substitute another word with the same amount of syllables as the removed word. “Shoe” has one syllable, so “boot” is a good fit too, as it also has one syllable. “Boot” + “string” = “bootstring”.
  4. Try a few! It helps if you can find rhyming words too.

Usage

When writing a blog post, if I find I’m using boring, common words, I can liven it up a bit. For example, the name of a new article with the word “shoestring” in it could now be “Buying Shoes On A Bootstring Budget”.

Examples

ice + cream (-ice, + mice) = micecream
chip + munk (-chip, +slip) = slipmunk
con +fi+ den + tial (-con, +lock) = lockfidential
hel + i + cop + ter (-heli, + smelly) = smellycopter

Slang Words

A collection of trendy slang words – some of which I have read elsewhere and some I made up:

Anti Lube
For when things get sticky.

Dramarama
A big drama.

Explodathon
Lots of explosions going on.

Femstruation
Menstruation in a confident manner.

Get Jerked
Telling someone to get lost.

Karmageddon
When all the karma happens at once.

Lollywopped
When you feel sick from eating too many lollies.

Nuf Nuf
Enough said about these people.

Rest In Pieces
The opposite of rest in peace.

Shelfie
For all those selfies that have gone off.

Upgreying
To get an older partner than the last one.

Zounds
Cool German sounds.

Method 4: Inserting Letters Of The Alphabet

  1. Pick a word. For example, I pick “polenta”.
  2. Choose a letter from the word to replace. In this case, I pick the “l” in polenta.
  3. Substitute every letter of the alphabet to see what you can create. I’ve bolded the good sounding ones in my example.
  4. poaenta
    pobenta
    pocenta
    podenta
    poeenta
    pofenta
    pogenta
    pohenta
    poienta
    pojenta
    pokenta
    polenta
    pomenta
    ponenta
    pooenta
    popenta
    poqenta
    porenta
    posenta
    potenta
    pouenta
    poventa
    powenta
    poxenta
    poyenta
    pozenta

As you can see, there are a good couple of potential business names in here. I can imagine pokenta covering any modern gadget or potenta being an internet startup of some sort. Pozenta could be selling flowers or cards, while popenta could be a fabric or jewellery business. Not bad for 5 minutes work!

Suzanne’s Made Up Words

A collection of words I invented. I’ve used these words a lot in my writing and my life.

Accessoration
Explodalicious
Fantabulous
Inkfluence
Internetty
LookShop
Sasspirations
Shoppoholica
Smarticles
Spendings
Trende
Unforgettabooks
Unphotographyworthy

Method 5: Random Playing & Polishing

OK, so now you have some unusual words to use as a starting point.

Let's get out the spit and polish, be creative and push it further to make the words even better!

Change letters around, add endings to the words or just do whatever comes to mind. Sometimes changes here can just come to you out of nowhere, especially if a word looks vaguely like another word.

Grab a piece of paper and pen, and play with the words, inserting letters anywhere, doing alphabet substitution like Method 4 if you are stuck.

Here are some examples of what I did:

Potenta = Notentia, Photentia, Boatential
Bootstring = Bootstringles, Tootstringy, Wootstring
Smellycopter = Smellycoppertry, Rallycopter
Magicon = Magiconicron, Magiconic, Smudgicon
Cattract = Cattractiveness, Kattractniss (after Katniss Everdene), Fattract (slang)

Potential Word Endings

Try a few of these word endings on the end of one of your newly made up words and see if it makes a difference!

#1
#2
#3
ing
ingly
inged
al
ity
ly
tion
ness
ia
er
ry
on
ail
ale
al
en
ick
ad
il
ure
aid
air
om
ed
ays
ow
ines
oses
hood
and
ork
ies
oon

Below is a poem I wrote years ago, using some of the invented words I made.

It's quite amazing what you can do with a pencil and a bit of paper. I always carry them on me, as wordplay helps to fill in time when needed.
It's quite amazing what you can do with a pencil and a bit of paper. I always carry them on me, as wordplay helps to fill in time when needed.

BBQueen

© Suzanne Day 2002

BBQueen
in sour jeans
grew up in Laverton,
addicted to
SENSAFEWAY SHOPPORTUNITY
&
w a t e r e x a g g e r a t i o n

"smile please" for
leggovernment
&
apolologise,

she loves the postmentality,
you can see it in her eyes

Do you like to make up your own words?

See results without voting

I won’t lie – you can spend a few hours on this and only get a handful of “maybe” words. Or sometimes you can create amazing words in just five minutes. It all depends on your mood and how creative your subconscious wants to be today.

Some people can do all of this in their head and some people need a piece of paper or a laptop. I have a weird habit where I prefer to lay in bed with lots of recycled paper spread everywhere. When you find your most comfortable haven for writing, do these exercises in your special spot for a bit of lighthearted fun.

You won’t know until you go there with wordplay!

I'd love to hear if you have invented any unusual words in the comments section below, so don't be shy...

© 2013 Suzanne Day

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Comments 30 comments

chef-de-jour profile image

chef-de-jour 2 years ago from Wakefield, West Yorkshire,UK

I really enjoyed this article. For those who love language your ideas and information and creativity are fantastic...creativation. See - it just came out!!

Another word that popped up the other day was a hybrid of drama and drastically...dramastically. I think that word could catch on!

Votes and a share. Thank you.


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Author

Wow Chef, love your words too. I'm going to use dramastically all over the place....


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Interesting and fun article Suzanne. Love the ideas for creating new words. I'm going to give some of them a go.

I have invented a few words, usually for nonsense poetry I write like "Betelgese" in my hub 'Verses for the Young at Heart'. Some of these are names of fictional creatures such as "the quamby", "fluff-puff kittens" etc. But another word I invented (specifically-pessimistic) spemistic or specimistic.

Anyway, voted up.


cam8510 profile image

cam8510 2 years ago from Columbus, Georgia until the end of November 2016.

Suzanne Day, this is an interesting and enjoyable hub. I have a friend who makes up words , but the poor guy doesn't mean to. One was a combo of precipitate and dissipate. He came up with decipitate. Thanks for writing.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Not sure if anyone else has ever used this word or not but I often say fabulicious. From Fabulous and Delicious. Loved your hub and I so enjoy word games and wordplay.

I have a hub called Play Free Word Puzzle Games and in it is a game that I invented myself.

Voted Up +++, tweeted, shared, and pinned.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

Suzanne, I love that word "cattract." I think that's what cat ladies do! I like your poem! You have a delightfully whimsical mind, and I can definitely see this as an ee cummings type poetry exercise (e.g., a classroom). Very cool.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

This was extremely enjoyable to read. Years ago, a friend and I created a word that we both used and also started using at work. Our co-workers began using it too. We always said it should be added to the dictionary. It's not all that exciting but here it is: BISSUE (Big Issue)

It came out of the thought that not only do I have an "issue" but it is a really BIG issue :) So I said BISSUE one day, and it stuck.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 2 years ago from malang-indonesia

Beautiful and I love your tips. Thanks for sharing with us. Voted up :-)

Prasetio


old albion profile image

old albion 2 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi Suzanne. I just love the Shelfie for all the selfies that have gone off. Brilliant all round.

voted up.

Graham.


Sundeep Kataria profile image

Sundeep Kataria 2 years ago

Hi Suzanne ! I thoroughly enjoyed your hub. You are a magician with words.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

What a wonderful exercise for writers. I have written before about making up our own cliches instead of using established ones...this plays right into that frame of mind....be a leader and others will follow. I love this article.


global-likes profile image

global-likes 2 years ago from Australia

Hi Suzzane, Absolutely loved reading your article. Brilliantabulous! Can't wait to try out the games! Thanks heaps.


Susan Recipes profile image

Susan Recipes 2 years ago from India

Wow... what a wonderful hub you have shared. I enjoyed reading it. Voted up and awesome.


Anita Anne Asra profile image

Anita Anne Asra 2 years ago from Hyderabad

Awesome Hub Suzanne Day! I really enjoyed going through it. Now, I just need to apply a few of these techniques to refresh my brain in case of creativity shortage. Thank you! :)


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 2 years ago from the short journey

Words can be such fun stuff and this is a neat look at creating new ones. I think we'll be seeing potenta in the near future for someone is surely gonna' grab that one. I've influenced people with words. One that comes to mind is when I used to call my apple laptop my Mactop. My kids laughed and laughed… :-)

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and thanks for a fun read. Oh, and have a Snappy New Year filled with neat words that come to mind when you need them in a skinny minute--perhaps you'll call them fasterms.


WriterJanis profile image

WriterJanis 2 years ago from California

This is so fun and creative. I think kids would have so much fun doing this.


Natasha Peters 2 years ago

What a wonderful hub! I'm a big fan of language and wordplay, and couldn't resist playing this game. I composed flawesome (flawed but awesome), hunzy (feeling hungry but too lazy to get food), and carefast (careful but fast)!


Thelma Alberts profile image

Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

Awesome! I enjoyed reading it. I love playing words and this hub is very entertaining and creative. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.


BigBlue54 profile image

BigBlue54 2 years ago from Hull, East Yorkshire

Thanks for directing me towards this hub Suzanne. Great fun. Like the idea of mellow spirograph. You can just imagine describing someone as being so mellow spirograph.

Did you ever get the Two Ronnies in Australia? This is one of their sketches and was voted Britains favourite sketch. I think you'll like it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaGpaj2nHIo


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia Author

Some funny play on words in the Two Ronnies. 'Ose anyone?


BigBlue54 profile image

BigBlue54 2 years ago from Hull, East Yorkshire

Ronnie Barker was noted for his wordplay. He often wrote sketches used in the show. He was such a modest man that he did so under an assumed name and it was not until he retired that he revealed it was him. That way they were chosen because people liked them rather then because he wrote them.

Having watched it again I must say that the set designers and dressers should be commended. I have been in places like that and that is just how they looked. Unfortunately with the rise if the big DIY stores places like that are long gone. They provided a customer service their replacements could never replicate.


philipariel profile image

philipariel 2 years ago from Secunderabad, Telangana

Hi Suzanne,

This is really an interesting one!

Creating new words OMG!!

very amazing indeed!

I must try out this,

my younger son Matt will

surely like this

Thanks for sharing.

Keep informed

Phil


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Words are beautiful and encouraging your suggestions are awesome.


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

What a wonderful hub or wordplay, should I say!

An enjoyable read and I must try creating some new words, by using your suggestions. I frequently use a word called 'fantabulos', not my creation by any chance, but I like combining fantastic and fabulous together.

Thanks for this very creative and enjoyable hub. Voted up!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 years ago

I have made up a few words over time. Love your share on this topic and how creative you made it for readers. It is a good writing practice for all writers as well. Thanks for the information.


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 2 years ago from USA

I am not in the habit of making up new words, but this is interesting. I did make up my pen name Shasta Matova by combining syllables together. These techniques are sure to help comeup with many new ones.


BigBlue54 profile image

BigBlue54 2 years ago from Hull, East Yorkshire

Millionaire Tips, The English language is a living breathing entity which is constantly growing and changing. Sometimes old words get new meanings, sometimes words are conflated, sometimes words are adopted from other languages and sometimes new words are added by making them up. This is why it is the biggest language in the world.

So get you big boots on, jump in and paddle around. It's lots of fun. :)


BigBlue54 profile image

BigBlue54 2 years ago from Hull, East Yorkshire

Just a quick follow up. William Shakespeare invented 3000 of the words he used. Don't know about you but if it's good enough for Will its good enough for me.


word55 profile image

word55 18 months ago from Chicago

Thank you Ms Day, this was very interesting. As long as I and the people can understand the meaning of made up words then I don't mind creating them. Thanks for sharing. Have another great day!


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 15 months ago from Home Sweet Home

this reminds me of my english teacher teachings

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