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Five Ways To Invent A Word

Updated on April 25, 2016

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

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

working

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