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Not-Words That Should Be Words


What follows is a collection of words that are either considered improper English, or words that were coined but never really used (nonce words), as well as a couple of Old English words that should seriously be revived.  These are my personal favorites, that I feel really ought to be part of standard English.  They’re pretty amazing, so I think you’ll see why.

Conversate  con•ver•sate


1. To make light-hearted conversation, as at a party.

Yes, I know we already have “converse.”  However, “converse” is a much more serious sounding word, while “conversate” sounds much lighter.  Therefore, “conversate” should mean banter and chatter, while “converse” refers to discourse on serious topics.

Origin: a back-formation from the word “conversation.”

Frindle  frin•dle


1. Pen

Origin: An extremely fun and darling kid’s book of the same name by Andrew Clements.  The protagonist Nicholas Allen invents a new word, frindle, and gets all his friends to use it, much the the chagrin of his teacher.  Excellent book for grades 2-5 (depending on your kid’s reading level).

Grody  gro•dy


1. Really gross, especially when describing an object covered in a possibly unknown substance.

Origin: Possibly the Americanization of the British slang term “grotty,” meaning of poor quality.

Listicle  lis•ti•cle


1. An article that is really more of a list with paragraphs describing each item on the list.  Kind of like this blog post.  Buzzfeed is also an excellent example of the listicle.

Origin: Portmanteau of “list” and “article.”

Meep  meep


1. The word you say when you boop (another word that ought to be a real word) someone on the nose.

Origin: Back in high school, my two friends and I started to use this word because we were silly and weird.  After I started working with kids, it just popped out when I booped one of them on the nose, and now it’s a thing.  At least with my students and my nephews.

Sameheart  same•heart


1. Soul mate

Origin: An Old English compound word of “same” and “heart.”  Compound words were very common in Old English, as they are in German.

Snackage  snack•age


1. Snacks for a road trip, game night with friends, and similar events

Origin: Basically, it’s more fun to say “snackage” than it is to say “snacks.”

Snarf  snarf


1. To eat really quickly

Origin: Portmanteau of “snack” and “scarf.”  It’s also really fun to say.

It’s also the name of a character from Thundercats, which is incidental, but the association seems fitting.

Wordhord  word•hord


1. One’s vocabulary

Origin: An Old English word meaning “treasury of words.”  A compound of “word” and “hord” (in modern English as “hoard.”)


1 Comment

  1. Lynda Ross says:

    I liked them.

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