Evelyn Eman Delmar

Coin(ed Words) of the Realm

Earlier this month, fed up with the increasing hypocritical nonsense streaming out of the political world, I coined a word to describe the purveyors of such commentary: hypocridiots. If you’ve seen my social media posts, you’ve likely seen this term.

Have you ever coined a new word? Hypocridiot is a melding of two existing words. Other ways new words are born are by changing use (from a noun to a verb, from a name to an adjective, etc.), by borrowing from existing words (often found in technical terms) or by approximating in sound the way we imagine something to be (similar to onomatopoeia). My mother often used the term “fershnoricated” (my spelling, since I can’t find this word anywhere) to describe something ridiculously mixed up; it sounds Yiddish but doesn’t appear in the glossary so I assume she or someone else created it. I’ve kept it alive because it works so well.

My recent blog post, “Walking Around the Writer’s Block”, included some of the never-before-seen words in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (a 67-year old book back on the bestseller list) that have particular relevance today. They include:
Newspeak — Ambiguous euphemistic language used chiefly in political propaganda.
Doublethink — The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them, especially as a result of political indoctrination.
Thought Police — (Thinkpol in Newspeak) are those who suppress all dissenting opinion.
Prolefeed – “The rubbishy entertainment and spurious news handed out by the Party to the masses.” This word is part of the language Newspeak
Big Brother — Used to refer to any ruler or government that invades the privacy of its citizens.

You’d be surprised how many of today’s commonly used words first appeared in literature, out of the imagination of authors. The undisputed king of coinage is William Shakespeare, with more than 2200 new words introduced. They include:
addiction (Othello)
assassination (Macbeth)
dishearten (Henry the V)
eyeball (The Tempest)
manager (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
obscene (Love’s Labor Lost)
uncomfortable (Romeo & Juliet)

Other authors who have added common words to our lexicon include:
Homer – mentor (The Odyssey)
Sir Walter Scott – freelance (Ivanhoe)
Mark Twain – lunkhead (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
Dr. Seuss – nerd (If I Ran the Zoo)

If you’ve never coined a word, isn’t it about time that you do?

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