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Worth 1/1000th of a Picture

EDIT FOR CLARITY: A Style Sheet is NOT a sheet asking for or demanding changes to MY book. No one can or would or even wants to change my words. NO one can or would even want to shift so much as a THE or an AND without checking it against my intent. The Style Sheet is my FRIEND — it is there to make sure that the words I make up or the neologisms I peel from the current evolving Engl-o-verse (I made that up!) are spelled the same every time they are used in the book. This is NOT a fuss I am having with Grand Central or copy editors or even English. This is my lovely, dear copy editor making me look smarter than I am, and me being amused with all these weird words she has to deal with!

I make up words. You KNOW I make up words. I do it here alla time. Then I pretend I didn’t by saying, “That’s totally a word,” and in a WAY, I am right, because the ones I make up have letters and are useable in sentences. They have grammatical functions and each has a meaning that is hopefully, on good days, made clear by context, and isn’t that pretty much a word?

I meant that question to be rhetorical, but I am now doing my copy edits. If you remember how I feel while doing copy edits, you know this means I am having a compulsive kind of afternoon. This is MY LAST SHOT at this, and if ANYTHING is in question, then I have to look it up. So now I have to look the definition of word up…

The dictionary says, “A sound or a combination of sounds, or its representation in writing or printing, that symbolizes and communicates a meaning.” SO there you have it, or in more triumphant terms: YES! THEY ALL ARE TOTALLY A WORDS! (See why I need a copy editor?)

You want to know how compulsive I am today???? Truthfully, I DID pause in the blogging and go look up the word WORD, and I cut and pasted the definition; I am being driven a little crazy to think that a single three dot ellipses is supposed to represent an absence of AT LEAST nine seconds. You will look at that three dot ellipses for maybe .005 of a second before going and reading the definition. IT ISN’T REALISTIC. Any good copy editor would have caught that…

But to stop digressing in the middle of a digression, I mention my word-making-up tendencies because I am now doing the copy edits on A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. AGUKOP has three narrators, and ONE of them somehow got infested with my own tendency to make up words and say them like they are perfectly respectable words of long standing. She says them all casual, as if they were words your granny used, and her granny before that, and she doesn’t have my compulsive need to yell THAT’S TOTALLY A WORD all defensively right after.

I never noticed she even DID THAT until I saw the Style Sheet—there is a WHOLE page called

“Dialect and Invented Words”

It is so large that it includes subsections. My favorite is currently “Spelling of adjectivized nouns and verbs.” This character has HOSTS of adjectivized nouns and verbs, and IRONICALLY (in the Alanis Morissette sense of the word) my spell check says that adjectivized IS A MADE UP WORD. Anyway—here is a small sampling of the ones this character used:


(INTERRUPTION: I really like these next four, which, if you say them VERY FAST in a chain, sound like a great band name.)

Ragey, smitey, soothey, starvey

(The band’s fans would call them RS3.)

Then I have a WHOLE category I have never seen in a style sheet before, called

“Other unclassifiable slang, dialect, neologisms”

I don’t know what a neologism is, but apparently, I stuck a BUNCH of them in this book. (In the process of typing that sentence I already knew I would have to go look it up. MAN but I am having a compulsive kind of day) …BRB. OKAY! It took me about 17 seconds to look that one up because I had to go two places, so if you wish to approximate that wait time, as if I were looking it up now, AS IS PROPER, you can watch this short video of a surprised kitten:

BACK! That cat owner sure has a high pitched voice!

Now, I know teachers, and probably copy editors, do not accept Wikipedia as a source, but I am going to LOVE THE WIKI because the Wikipedia WISELY and KINDLY said that a neologism is “a newly coined term, word or phrase, that may be in the process of entering common use, but has not yet been accepted into mainstream language.”

Meanwhile? Miriam WEBSTER is kind of a poop. MW says a neologism is “a meaningless word coined by a psychotic.”

To which I make a miffed noise and resolve to trust Wikipedia exclusively from here on out. I will even let The Wiki do my TAXES and any DICTIONARY that wants to do my taxes can suck it.

ANYWAY, here are some of the funner unclassifiable slang, dialect, and neologisms that are in this book (FUNNER IS A WORD):

mommishy mom
trauma’d up

Reading those out loud in a chain makes me laugh. Also, the word weenus, all by itself, makes me laugh. I am twelve. But copy edits do not make me laugh.



43 comments to Worth 1/1000th of a Picture

  • Scottsdale Girl

    Adjectivising is totally the new black. *nod*

  • Mir

    All words had to be made up at some point, right?

    But psssst, I am Miriam. The Webster partner is Merriam (I think it’s a last name there). 😀 I am not writing it in red ink, in the hopes that you won’t feel the need to come over here and smack me for saying that.

  • You are channeling the great Joss Whedon who totally made up words and repurposed verbs into nouns.

    See here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A13492776

    And maybe someday they will teach classes on the languagification of the great Joss Jackson.

  • Dani

    I was already TOO excited to read this book. After reading that list, well, can you send me an early edition pleeeeease? Just email it to me and I’ll check over it for free! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • “Ragey, Smitey, Soothey, Starvey.” All you need is another three and you’ve got yourself a new kick-ass seven dwarves there.

  • Bah, tell your copy editor that all those neologisms (and we use “craptastic” a lot) and made up words are what give you your unique voice and she should totally be delightfully kitteny surprised with joyfrivolity (see what you’ve started?) at being in the presence of someone who redefines language. And is probably a diety somewhere. So there.

    weenus weenus weenus weenus weenus

    Love it!

  • Oh no she is GREAT Fran — she put the NEOLOGISMS on the list so they would be spelled the same all through and so the proofreader would not CHANGE them HEHEHEHEHEH!

    I <3 my copy editor.

    I just hate doing copy edits 😀


  • PS I am STEALING joyfrivolty.

    I want to name a cat that word.

    A sour bitter undead cat.

  • I’ll buy the book just to find out how you managed to use snuck-pregnanted!

    I’m a copy editor, and this post had me simultaneously laughing and cringing.

  • How much do I love “snuck-pregnanted”? As much as my weenus will allow.

  • Beth R

    craptastic is TOTALLY a word! I used it in a work conversation today, even 🙂

  • Jessica

    I think I love that character. And you. Only in a literary way, though. 😉

  • Words. Words. I love words. I love the way you put words together whether they are really, truly approved by the folks at Merriam Webster or not. I especially love them when they are not. <3

  • Well, I’ve read “craptastic” in a bunch of places, so I totally think it’s a word (slang, though, maybe, not formal). But the rest … well, I can’t wait to read the book (even more), because some of them I just need to see in a sentence.

  • Ray

    Joss, Stripey. Stripey, Joss.

    The one in there who isn’t you is the cat of a friend of ours who has taken to doing refrigerator-magnet poetry on his human Kristen’s door.

    The latest inspiration:

    “you color crescent
    says divinty doesn’t”

    I put them in that order. While I was in the bathroom, he swept “divinity doesn’t” to the floor AGAIN. That part must be especially important.

  • edj

    I love your new words. All of them. I totally understand them. And, as my otherwise horrible linguistics professor used to say, English is a LIVE language. It is constantly growing and changing. You are merely contributing to that growth, as you should, since you are a writer. Congrats!
    (Although I’ve heard craptastic before…)

  • EVERYONE is starting to hear craptastic, though I haven’t heard it on TV yet. Just from PEOPLE. THEREFORE — it is a perfect example of a true neologism!

    By which I mean, it is “a newly coined term in the process of entering common use.”

    NOT “a meaningless word coined by a psychotic.”

    Like, say, Snuck-pregnanted.

  • You are rather marvellous. Just sayin’.

  • I think they are jealous ’cause they can’t invent words…

  • Trish

    I work in a public library and make up words all the time.

    And love your books. And can’t wait for this one. … And apparently, can’t write a properly complete sentence. 🙂

  • Agreed – craptastic is totally a real word.

    Loving all the rest! I’m going to start forcing some of those into conversations – time for them to enter the mainstream…

  • Just to be clear—-I am not claiming that I made ALL these words up!

    They are a MIX of my own made-up words, dialect, and neologisms.

    I have heard unpossible being used here and there, for example, and certainly weenus has been around as a word longer than I have been on the planet. (OH it;s still a GOOD one though!) Other words on the the style sheet include FRENEMIED, which is just a variation on the former neologism (now a word) frenemy. Also overshare is in the book, but it has become so accepted it didn’t even make the style sheet list!

  • Can we petition your publisher to please LEAVE the made up words. I like them.

  • linda j

    As I was reading the list I was trying to imagine the lady saying all those words and she is certainly southern sounding to me. Another one I can’t wait to meet. I don’t think it’s a good thing when I read craptastic and I think of work…ugh. Have fun with the edits and remember that we love you for all your effort and I’m sneaking you some of the finest chocolate on the planet for you to calm yourself with to be taken as needed for mental health of all involved.

  • Webster’s definition is wrong. Which is odd to say, but the wiki dictionary entry is the more correct of the two.

    I have no surprised kittens but I’ll see you a ticklish otter


    And raise you a Stephen Fry Kinetic Text on language


    Apologies if you’ve a) seen them or 2) I go them from you. Otherwise, enjoy!

  • Shelley

    I really want to read the book now, even more than before, because snuck-pregnated has to have a good story behind it. I have not actually heard the word craptastic or weenus outside your blog and really don’t want to see them pop up on the Scrabble board. Is it a word if it isn’t in the Scrabble dictionary? I don’t think so…

  • Aimee

    My favorites are snuck-pregnated (which I think is GENIUS!), trauma’d up and of course WEENUS. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENUS.

    You know, you’re in really great company with all the neologisms. Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll, and (because of frenemy) the writers of Sex and the City. I was recently reading some short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez for my Spanish group. In Spanish the word mariposa, which means butterfly, is a euphemism for prostitute. Marquez made that word into a noun, as in “Las putas mariposeaban” or “The hookers were butterflying around.” I LOVE stuff like that.

  • Ray

    I’ve started my own thread on this, and you’re winning.

    Best reply: What the hell “fancy” publisher is this that they are trying to edit out, oh, THE STYLE???

    Which reminded me that you share an imprint with one S. Colbert, which thus got me wondering if he ever got bitch-slapped over the word “truthiness.”

  • Jill W.

    Love all those words. I think craptastic is in such common uses now that it must be mere minutes from entering the OED.

    Love Marina’s comment. : D

    Have you and the beautiful Maisy seen “Ramona and Beezus”? I love Ramona’s little rant about how her teacher won’t let her use the words she has made up.

  • Ray

    Oh. That’s very different.

    Never mind.

  • Julie

    Weenus is a word in tween vocabulary. My son and I had an argument to that effect. It is according to him the flap of skin on your elbow. Never mind my 4 years of nursing school and 15 years of nursing, I clearly am lacking in education!

  • Stacey

    She’s not quite a surprised kitten, but this little kid would love to watch you rip up any pesky style sheets!


  • @Julie – The weenis is the skin on your elbow, it’s true. But, I think, only if you spell it with an I.

  • Michelle-who-is-Shelley

    Weenus. It makes me laugh too. And then laugh again and again reading the comments.

    1. I’m assuming that you are offended by the part of the dictionary definition that says ““a meaningless word ” as opposed to the second part – “coined by a psychotic”, because being normal is highly over-rated.

    b. I was told that being a writer is the only job where you get to make up words.

    3) thank you, Nicole, for the link to Joss Whedonisms! ( Although the list of his brilliant word-crafting is not complete without the word from Dr. Horrible, Firefly, and Serenity.)

  • Gosh, I got sidetracked from the funny kitten video to the classic sneezing baby panda and then veered to hedgehogs and sidetracked into whether or not it was legal to own a hedgehog in my state, TN. Then I read about their diets, they need chitin (found in insect exoskeletons, but do not feed wild caught crickets for fear of insecticide contamination).


  • I am totally going to start using “snuck-pregnated” at work. I’m work in a pediatric clinic and we have quite a number of young teenage girls who come in because they think they got “snuck-pregnated” or are trying to prevent getting “snuck-pregnated.”

    You are a genius!

  • DebR

    Ok, I know people who blather on about their dreams are boring, but I had to come & tell you this. Last night I had a dream that I won an advance copy of AGUKOP. (Yay! I hope that part comes true!!! LOL!) When I opened it up, there was an appendix in the back of the book that was an illustrated (w/ some very styley cartoons) dictionary of the words on your style sheet! (I also dreamed I was in a contest where I had to bake a perfect apple pie, but I don’t guess that’s relevant. Ahem.)

  • Brigitte

    I still resent some creative-writing teacher back in college that wouldn’t let my character describe a guy as “studly” because it was a made-up word. Since REAL TRUE people (example: all of US) use made-up words on a regular basis, and characters usually reflect some version of reality, can’t they also use made-up words? It’s a character’s dialogue, fer Pete’s sake, not a technical manual!

  • LOVE these Real Live Words used in Context to Mean Something:

    “But to stop digressing in the middle of a digression”

    “and in a WAY, I am right, because the ones I make up have letters and are useable in sentences. They have grammatical functions and each has a meaning that is hopefully, on good days, made clear by context, and isn’t that pretty much a word?”

    The word you “made up” (or at least bothered to spell out) that I love???


    As in sweet Maisy who was barely or hardly or just whatever age when you went to the Magic Kingdom of the Pristine Bathrooms? And you arrived home at the butt-crack of dawn and she thought you were at Cinderella’s castle or something, and you called her Bunny and told her you were home and showed you your very own door? And she said, “Oh, I’mma go back to sleep now.” ??? Well, that was MANY years ago, but it has stuck with me.

    I’mma stop writing now.

  • Ray

    I’d forgotten that story, Roxanne. I think Kanye West owes Maisy some credit- not that he’d give her any;)

  • Lulu

    I totally thought you embroidered on what M-W said about neologisms, so I had to go look it up myself. OMG. It says that exactly. That seems…just wrong, like editorializing on either Merriam’s or Webster’s part.

    But 2 thumbs up to your copy editor for recognizing your style & not monkeying with it. And kudos to you for for appreciating what she brings to the project! Not every author-copyeditor relationship works as well.

  • Chrissa

    Just reading the list of words induced a craving for the book.

  • Les in AZ

    craptastic – BEST word EVER – I use it ALL the time…it’s so descriptive! Those copy editors better NOT be editing out all the crazy! I love the CRAZY! Viva los craptastico!