Dirty Harry speaks to a chair and overnight, Eastwooding enters the vocabulary. Eastwooding is an easy one, like Tebowing. Adding a gerund (an ing) to a noun is child’s play. More advanced wordhacks — Stephen Colbert elevating truthiness to a word of the year — is an art form.
Making up new words (that’s neologisms for the wordanistas out there) isn’t a cyberspace invention. Although the Internet does seem to spawn more than its fair share. Literature has given us Scrooges, Polyannas and Snarks. Science and technology have given us lidar, Google and Photoshop.
Why do we do it? Much easier for people to grok what you’re talking about by smushing two words together like shoe and stupidity. For example:
“The act of wearing ridiculously uncomfortable shoes because – come on – they look incredible.” Example: “Girl those seven-inch Gaga heels you’re rocking are sheer shoepidity. I hope you brought flip-flops!*
These made up words work because we’re not used to them. They trip off the tongue easily and sound interesting to the listener. They work on the brain, telling it to “sit up, switch off autopilot, and translate this.” Used judiciously by clever speakers, writers, educators the wordhack screams “look at me, pay attention.” The best ones are not only unusual, but there are enough familiar parts or references to easily understand and remember them.
So how can you play? I’ve started to compile a handy list of word hacks. Part 1 is below. Instructions included. Enjoy!
*Glamour Magazine, Sep 2012 Issue.