Consider yourself warned: This blog contains random word nerdiness.
At a meeting a few weeks ago, the word “quintessential” was bandied about.
Do we know what that word means?
1. the purest or most perfect example of something.
Okay, cool. But it got me thinking, quint is five and essential is… essential.
Are there such things as quadessential? Triessential? Being born in October, am I octessential? (or decaessential, seeing that despite it being “oct,” eight, it is currently the tenth month?) According to spellcheck, no. Every one of my other ‘essentials’ is underlined in error-defining red.
Which then made me think about the word sensitive. (Because that’s how my mind works… we call it “lily padding,” jumping from one thought to the other, seemingly random, but all in the same pool.) Having recently deodorized my dog from a skunk spray (ew) when I think the word, I am sensitive to the scent, therefore, “scentsitive.” But not just any scent, oh no, we’re talking full-on nasal-searing eye-watering scentsitive… we’re talking skunksitive. Go ahead, crinkle your nose, it’s practically an onomatopoeia.
So of course that thought led me to wonder… is there a word for a word that incites a reaction? Onomatopoeias (spell that three times fast!) are words that sound like what they mean—Boom! Achoo! Meow. But what about words that illicit a strong physical affiliation… if I tell you I got a wicked papercut, you cringe, you may even shake your finger, you know what that feels like. You react from the word alone, I don’t have to describe it (cardboard!) or show it to you (finger-thumb webbing!). Although details help, right—I mean, you just said “ow” for me and squeezed your thumb and finger together.
We all know that being around a puking person makes you want to throw up. I can say “puke” (or spew, vomit, ralph, etc) with little or no reaction, but if I say, “urp,” your stomach clenches, right? Urp, which must be an onomatopoeia, may also be considered a scentisitive word, haha.
I’ve also pondered the word pregnant. Pre is a suffix meaning before, so pregnant must mean before gnant. What the hell is gnant? Having been pregnant I can only imagine that “gnant” means sleep-deprived, overworked, underpaid, worried, proud, happy, and occasionally insane and that pre-gnant is the last sanctuary before all that.
It is common knowledge that Shakespeare is responsible for many of the words we use in today’s English. Addiction, compromise, and majestic are just a few of the words that Shakespeare is credited with creating. Not to compare myself to the Bard or anything, but I’m game for creating a few new words… hard to imagine what’s not already being said, but then I think about recent dictionary entries like Whassup, chillax and blog, and realize there’s plenty of room for input (improvement?).