A Way With Words: Neologisms

Neologisms – those sometimes annoying words that began as a noun and over time morphed into a verb.

Some of these are a recognized part of our American lexicon. Words such as – chair, table, hammer, eye, mouth. They are so common that we often don’t consider that each of these began as nouns, yet over time, we turned them into action words.

Modern technology has given us many neologisms.

troll – Make a deliberately offensive or provocative online post with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.
There is always that one blog visitors who trolls the comments, leaving hateful responses to posts.

bookmark – to record the address of a website to enable quick access in future.
I need to bookmark that cooking site so I can find cookie recipe later.

friend/unfriend – add someone to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website.
My neighbor asked me to friend her on Facebook.

email/message/text – to send an electronic message to someone.
Sometimes, it’s easier to text someone than to call them on the phone.

stream – transmit or receive data over the Internet as a steady, continuous flow.
The wedding will be streamed so anyone who couldn’t attend, can see the ceremony.

Skype – have a spoken conversation with (someone) over the Internet using the software application Skype.
When my daughter was away at college, we would Skype at least once a week.

Google – search for information about (someone or something) on the Internet using the search engine Google.
I don’t use telephone books any longer, I just Google a phone number if I need it.

We can look to pop culture for a few verbs, née nouns.

MacGyver (titular fictional television character) – To assemble or repair something by ingenious improvisation, using everyday items that would not usually be used for the purpose.
When he broke his zipper, he had to MacGyver a fix using a paperclip and duct tape.

heart – like very much; love.
I heart bunnies, they are so cute.

catfish – lure into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.
She joined an online dating service, and some 15-year-old boy catfished her.

The world of business has added a few neologisms.

headquarter – provide (an organization) with headquarters at a specified location.
The new tech startup will be headquartered in New York.

breakfast/lunch – to eat breakfast/lunch.
After yoga, we lunched on rice cakes and celery sticks.

A few more…

gift – to give a present.
He gifted me with flowers every day for a week.

author – be the originator of; create, especially a piece of writing.
She signed a contract to author two more books.

dialogue – take part in a conversation or discussion.
To work out this problem, we need to dialogue a solution.

school – train or discipline (someone) in a particular skill or activity.
His mother schooled him in how to wash his own clothes.

Creating your own neologisms is similar to slapping together a Portmanteau (a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others.) They can be very descriptive when a common word just won’t do. Some critics don’t like neologism, claiming misusing nouns as verbs, is abusing the language. I tend to like anything that helps move your story along, and adds to how you describe your action, characters and scenery.

Frankenstein – to piece together something using several unrelated parts.
I had to frankenstein a Halloween costume from clothes I found at Goodwill.

spiderweb – cover with a pattern resembling a spiderweb.
When the window broke, it glass spiderwebbed across the whole windshield.

sideline – remove from the center of activity or attention.
After twisting my ankle, my doctor sidelined me for the race.

steeple – To form something (fingers) into the shape of an inverted V.
Considering his next chess move, he steepled his fingers and stared at the board.

Use your imagination, what nouns can you turn into verbs?

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Tara R

Columnist/Photographer at Our Write Side
Tara Roberts (pronounced Tar-ah and with a southern drawl) lives and plays on the Florida Gulf Coast. A former print news and online media reporter, she now spends her days roaming the woods and beaches of the Panhandle talking to herself, penning eclectic fiction, and taking photographs. She can be found most days at “Thin spiral notebook” trying to quiet the voices in her head.
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