There are words. Real words. Words that work in everyday language. And then there are the new words – the academic constructs, the neo-industrial or neo-cultural jargon, the metaphors, the online argot, the portmanteaus, the slang. You have to love them. But then there are the new words that emerge from the pens of writers. Words or phrases that have new or different meanings.
I’m a big fan of Adams and Lloyd’s Meaning of Liff, but always felt that odd words need to be properly constructed to have half a chance of being adopted by others.
I like these words, and I make them up and use them all the time. I’m sure that it bugs the hell out of etymologists. They can root around for the first written use of a word as a sign of common usage if they like, but in the mean time I’ll stick with making the first written use of words because they’re cool.
Some words and phrases that I have coined over the years (some, I confess, may first have been created by predictive text or autocorrect malfunctions):
- abgnosis, abgnostic – one who believes that the answers lie, and will always lie, beyond the realms of knowledge and understanding.
- abhorration – something so horrific that it instils absolute fear and terror into any who see it.
- ancestory – a narrative gleaned from a descendant’s investigations.
- andeism, andeist – ‘without God’, meaning one who lives their life without belief in a Supreme Being.
- apocryphage – one who seeks out non-canonical material, either to collect (and consume) it, or else to keep it out of the hands of the uninitiated.
- apocryphobe – someone who only accepts a canonical text as valid, and holds that anything unofficial is heretical garbage.
- carbage – rubbish that gathers or is left to build up inside a car over time.
- faitheist– an atheist who chooses to follow the traditions of a religion or else acknowledges the value of the trappings of faith.
- fartulon * – someone who farts at intervals that resemble the efficiency and regularity of a machine.
- fringework – a niche creative activity.
- hypothesy – the pastime or process of expressing hypotheses.
- memestation – when an unwanted meme replicates more quickly that it’s consequences can be measured, and subsequently won’t go away.
- memetect – the creator and propagator of an idea with the purpose of influencing the structure of society.
- mythaghost – a mythic idea or belief that is long lost and hidden beneath one or more layers of subsequent myth. Unlike Holdstock’s mythago, nothing of a mythaghost remains.
- mythagogue – peddler of new myths based on no, or suprious, evidence, often coming up with unsubstantiated theories that cannot be empirically tested.
- quantum bollocks – the use of scientific terms and expressions to confuse and promote lies or nonsense.
- quantum mnemonics – equations or formulae which, when understood, change the fabric of the universe.
- tesseraptor – from tesseract and raptor; a higher dimensional concept that subsumes other ideas and is in danger of being consumed by its own complexity.
- twibble – portmanteau of twitter and drabble; a short story of exactly 140 characters.
- twobble – a short story that is double the length of a twibble, acknowledging the greater length of modern tweets.
- verbivore – a voracious consumer of literature.
* Some of these words are actually ‘Steveisms’, loaned and adopted from my good friend Steve Jones, who believes that half-hour segments of our lives exist in a parallel dimension as episodes of a sitcom called ‘Two Crazy Guys’.