I learned to read a long time ago, but I can still remember the sheer amazingness of the discovery — like I’d found the keys to the universe and all of a sudden, EVERYTHING made sense. Words were everywhere and I was powering through them like a mad thing (and mispronouncing a fair few, I ought to add).
Some years later, not that much has changed. I still read like a mad thing and I still love words. Only now there are more words to love, from the solid everyday standbys (“wattage”, “traveller”, “coax”) to the niche-y specialists you bring out for added pounce(“peripatetic”, “disingenuous”) when time and audience are right.
The thing that really makes my head spin is the way language evolves. Even as I type this, old words are morphing and merging to send nifty little neologisms strutting out of our cultural soup of signifiers, all a-dazzle with tasty wordiness. Perhaps my favourite of these is the portmanteau, a linguistic mashup of two words and their meanings.
For some time, I’ve been meaning to make a list of the niftiest new (or new to me) words I come across in daily parlance. Here are three I have enjoyed this week, with more to come as I encounter them.
Noun: a break from dating, flirting, and all forms of sexual interaction with men
“He is totally giving you the eye, go for it!”
“I can’t, I’m on a manopause. He’s fit though — get in there, Shaz.”
Collective noun: timewasting, to-ing and fro-ing and general faffing
“You’re right — there is a direct correlation between the number of children a person has and the degree of faffage involved in their getting from A to B. Thank God we chose art over ankle-biters.”
Adjective: really awful with a sort of visceral twinge; a combination of hellish and atrocious
“During the coldest night that winter in Siberia, Ferdinand was forced to rise every hour to stoke the fire with priceless Louis XIV furniture. For an antiques dealer it was a truly hellacious experience.”