New Words for a New World

The good folks who produce The Merriam-Webster Dictionary recently announced the addition of 640 new words to the newest edition. Words like “go-cup” (a beverage cup to take out of the restaurant), “bioabsorbable” (a substance that can be absorbed by living tissue), and “on-brand” (consistent with a particular public image or identity).

Some of the additions, such as “screen time” (to refer to time spent in front of a device with a screen) are overdue. Others, such as “qubit” (a “unit of information in a computational model based on the unstable qualities of quantum mechanics, a blend of quantum and bit”), seem, well, less useful than others (especially for Bible readers who recognize the term’s similarity to “cubit,” the word used to describe lengths in building Noah’s ark, for example.

But other terms that I would like to see added were strangely overlooked—words that apply to the writing-and-publishing life, which have far more utility than “qubit,” for crying out loud. Here are only a few examples:

  • Adjectheavy: the adjective that describes a manuscript in which adjectives are overused.
  • Crash landing page: a poorly-executed website landing page for an author or book.
  • Contagiarism: trying to write in the style of a favorite, much-read author whose voice just kinda resonates in your head.
  • Deep purple prose: writing that goes so far beyond ornate, or flowery, language as to turn a piece of writing into so much smoke on the water.
  • POVV: “point of view variance.” It’s what happens when the author forgets which character’s head he or she is in.
  • Pratform: falling on your face while attempting to build your platform.
  • Poofreading: the practice in proofreading of reading what you meant to write, not what you actually wrote.
  • Shudder-send: the moment of panic immediately after sending an email that you thought was perfect but which you realized, in the split second before the email disappears from view, contained an embarrassing and obvious mistake.
  • Slushee pile: a stack of used Slushee cups and chocolate candy wrappers accumulated by a writer on deadline.
  • Transgenre: a piece of writing that crosses lines into several genres. Example: Amish steampunk romantic suspense novel.

These are just a few helpful words for the next Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary: Writer’s Edition. I’m sure the faithful readers of this blog will have suggestions of their own to make. What words and definitions would you add?


33 Responses to New Words for a New World

  1. Avatar
    Maco Stewart May 15, 2019 at 4:58 am #

    Judice (judiced, adj.). An assessment based on experience and reflection rather than ignorant prejudice.

    Perhaps not so directly applicable to publishing (“my judiced opinion, having read your manuscript in its entirety, is that shredding and recycling these pages would be the best course for you to pursue”), but we need this word.

    • Avatar
      NJ May 15, 2019 at 7:10 am #

      Good word

  2. Bob Hostetler
    Bob Hostetler May 15, 2019 at 5:15 am #

    I’m sure I’m juiced, Maco, but I approve this message.

  3. Avatar
    Lori Hatcher May 15, 2019 at 5:29 am #

    Thank you for the smile today. Much appreciated.

  4. Avatar
    Gail Arbogast May 15, 2019 at 5:48 am #

    I loved the Amish steampunk romantic suspense novel, especially trying to picture it in my mind. LOL

    • Avatar
      Nora Spinaio May 15, 2019 at 8:12 am #

      My mind went straight to the “Amish Vampires In Space”. Has anyone ready it, and did the author do good (so to speak). 🙂

  5. Avatar
    Cyd Notter May 15, 2019 at 5:52 am #

    I laughed out lout at ‘deep purple prose’ – took me back to the day of blasting Smoke on the Water on my parents car radio. Plus the word Transgenre captures my new book (which correlates scientific dietary research with biblical Christian principles). Is it a diet book or a devotional? It’s both 🙂 Thanks!

  6. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser May 15, 2019 at 6:19 am #

    When my thoughts don’t ring true
    and the words become a bear,
    I will down a pint or two,
    going into Foster’s care.
    When I’m not in beery bliss,
    which, as I write, is rarely,
    I’ll oft produce an amalgamess,
    big accreted words to scare thee.
    And sometimes I get very tired
    of sitting on a diligent perch,
    and solely be Wikipedia-inspired
    to a writing sin that’s called reslurch.
    But for writing confections, here’s the worst:
    killing off a lead is called Starburst.

    • Avatar
      Judith Robl May 15, 2019 at 6:44 am #

      Thank you, Andrew. I always look for your responses. It’s how I gauge your day. Praying today is a better one.

    • Avatar
      Lorraine May 15, 2019 at 5:21 pm #

      Brings a smile, Andrew. Thanks for making happy moments.

  7. Avatar
    Damon J. Gray May 15, 2019 at 6:37 am #

    I need to learn to NOT read your blog postings while at work. Too often I am unable to stifle the laugh. It is out of my mouth before I can catch it.

  8. Avatar
    Judith Robl May 15, 2019 at 6:45 am #

    Bob, I love your sense of humor. These are almost to true to be funny. But they are funny. Thank you for the morning giggle.

  9. Avatar
    Cindy Fowell May 15, 2019 at 7:02 am #

    Thank you for starting out my day just right. With a smile and a chuckle. Now to figure out where to use a few new words in my vocabulary today.

  10. Avatar
    Joey Rudder May 15, 2019 at 7:27 am #

    What a great list. Slushee pile is my favorite.

    It reminds me of wanderodentatrip: the act of wandering away from your laptop in search of anything sweet (cookies, tub of frosting, hot chocolate with the whole bag of marshmallows etc.). This can sometimes lead to protagsweetooth: the affliction a main character suffers at the hands of a writer experiencing the wanderodentatrip who brings the experience into the story, expecting and forcing the character to stuff her face too. It’s truly a vicious cycle. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Colleen K Snyder May 15, 2019 at 8:38 am #

      Love this one… my characters can relate as well!!

      • Avatar
        Joey Rudder May 15, 2019 at 10:58 am #

        Thanks, Colleen! My characters are relieved to know they’re not alone. 🙂

    • Avatar
      Rhonda Delamoriniere May 16, 2019 at 2:20 pm #

      Sometimes mine turns into a wondertotarget trip, after which I often suffer from a procrastintation disorder and it takes a while to get back to writing.

      • Avatar
        Joey Rudder May 17, 2019 at 11:10 am #

        Oooh the wondertotarget trip sounds serious, Rhonda! 🙂 And I too suffer from the procrastination disorder in the form of frenziedclutterclean: the mad dash to pick up before anyone sees I’ve clearly not been keeping up. It’s so much easier to tackle dust bunnies than to weave subplots.

  11. Avatar
    Ann L Coker May 15, 2019 at 9:00 am #

    I’m disappointed: This month I purchased the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and qubit is not included. I thought, after getting rid of my 9th edition, that I had the latest and greatest. But cubit is still included.

  12. Avatar
    Sherri House May 15, 2019 at 11:58 am #

    Laughter is good medicine. Thanks for the RX. It’s helping me recover from a spell of poofreading and shuddersend.

  13. Avatar
    Brad Leach May 15, 2019 at 12:14 pm #

    I would add Crummytopia. A Twilight Zone for that vast array of published pablum currently flooding the markets. Even at the quantum level, these books reek (and on this Max Planck is also constant.)
    I mean the kind of bunkum thrown together in 8 weeks, never proofed, consistent only due to grammatical errors, but eminently suitable to illustrate “Cliches I’ve Known” and “Mugged by Dialogue.”
    For agents and publishers, Crummytopia rivals Dante’s Inferno during their fevered nightmares. Abandon rules, all ye who write here…

  14. Avatar
    claire o'sullivan May 15, 2019 at 1:55 pm #

    Bob (and all), great post.

    Always a riot to read your comments i.e. juiced hahaha.

    I surely fall into the categories, transgenre, pratform, shudder-send, and crashlanding page. Since my technolackability stretches so far and wide, I have done this more than once. Or twice. Facepalm. I remember one crashland email to an editor a million years ago, which deleted half my message and I don’t know what key I touched. I wrote a follow-up and said, oh, dear… She was good-hearted with a sense of humor and asked me for the first 50 pages. Another one, I meant to send to my grammar nazi since she gives me content truth as well, and ended up somehow sending to Steve’s email. Holy senior email, Batman. I fired off another one saying ‘Delete! Delete!’

    Not at all embarrassing.

    • Avatar
      Maco Stewart May 15, 2019 at 3:04 pm #

      Technolackability. That and Crummytopia get my support.

  15. Avatar
    claire o'sullivan May 15, 2019 at 4:31 pm #

    Don’t forget ‘genreosity.’ The agent who reads your MS even though it’s in the wrong genre…

  16. Avatar
    Denise S. Armstrong May 15, 2019 at 8:00 pm #

    Mr. Laube,
    This was so cool that I was unable to come up with a quip of my own to appropriately commend it, other than ‘so cool’. It provided some good laughter first thing this morning, though some of my laughter was nervous laughter due to such examples as ‘Pratforming’ and ‘crash landing page’. Do you have a service that checks for such infractions for novices?
    Sent from Denise’s iPhone

  17. Avatar
    Rhonda Moriniere May 16, 2019 at 2:13 pm #

    I loved this more than words can say. I am so thankful that I have found this tribe of people who make sense to me.
    Reading this made me laugh and feel so at home.
    Thank -you,
    Rhonda de la Moriniere

  18. Avatar
    Tisha Martin May 16, 2019 at 5:33 pm #

    Love this! Finally we get to actually see these new words that have been floating for some time…

  19. Avatar
    Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D May 18, 2019 at 1:29 pm #

    Bob, I believe your poofread needs to have synonyms such as “proveread,” “provereed,” and …oh. rats, I can’t remember the other one.

  20. Avatar
    claire o'sullivan May 18, 2019 at 2:30 pm #

    don’t forget, hiring a comprehensive editor is called (in my head) a plotbunnyfixer.

  21. Avatar
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