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A while back a friend sent me this great link from Cracked.com — 9 Words That Don’t Mean What You Think.  Some of them I already knew were used incorrectly by a majority of people – ‘irregardless’ and ‘ironic,’ for instance – but others, most of the others, in fact, I was shocked to find I was ignorant of their true meanings as well (though without blame, I think, for as the article points out, most of the wrong meanings have already basically become common usage, though I will make sure to only use them in their correct form from now on).

Coinciding with this, often while I was writing my book I ran into situations where I wanted to use a certain word, only to be dismayed to find that it wasn’t actually a word.  But I figure if most people can use a bunch of words incorreclty and no one really cares, why can’t I declare some new words that should be words anyway?  So I will.

Be forewarned, there’s nothing wholly original here – it’s quite possible these are ‘words’ people have been complaining about even before the Internet came around to give people a perfect forum for complaining; but if that’s the case, I’m surprised the dictionaries haven’t been updated yet.  Anyway, here we go – let’s start with a few easy ones:

Nevermind

Yes, unbelievably, this is technically not a word.  I’m basing that on my computer’s dictionary widget, the spell-check in both Firefox and Pages, and Dictionary.com, which does have a listing, but gives the example sentence as: “Pay him no nevermind,” which of course is not how it’s commonly used anyway.  ‘Nevermind’ is derived from and means the same as ‘never you mind,’ meaning, of course, ‘mind your business,’ but the Oxfords and Colliers and Websters of the world haven’t yet got around to officially recognizing this compacting of the phrase .  Seems pretty stupid to me, so – make it a word already!

Underwhelmed

We all know about this one already . . . except Sloan is wrong!  Turns out this has been accepted as a word (I can find two sources).  Shame on you Chris Murphy – trying to mislead a whole generation of young, innocent Canadians with your lies.

Improprietous

Now getting down to some serious ones here.  ‘Improprietous’ would be the adjective form of ‘impropriety;’ so ‘my, that was very improprietous of him.’  What’s wrong with that?  Rolls right off the tongue, if you ask me.  This should be a word; I really can’t fathom why it isn’t, especially given that the Latin root of ‘impropriety’ is ‘proprietās.’  You’d think that those 17th & 18th c. Neo-Classicist eggheads who went around making up all those grammar rules like ‘don’t split your infinitives’ could have found some time to make ‘improprietous’ a word.  Alas, they were probably too much into the snuff.

Any Word That Should Have an Adverb Form

Again, I often found myself wanting to use many words which would specifically say what I specifically meant, but found that I couldn’t because they weren’t real words; this happened very frequently with adverbs.  For example: ‘trepidatiously’ is not a word, even though the adjective ‘trepidatious’ is.  How does that make sense?  ‘Panickedly’ – also along the same lines.  So, yeah, if the word has an adjective form, but for no apparent reason doesn’t have an ‘official’ adverb form, I say it should be made official.  We would actually be gaining a huge multitude of new yet extremely useful words that people have probably been wanting to use for centuries anyway.

I mean, if ‘bling’ is listed on Dictionary.com, we can list some new adverbs.

Somebody get on it.

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8 thoughts on “Words That Should Be Words

  1. I feel like the “-ly” is more of a modifier that can be applied to any word, so there’s not as much of a need to explicitly enumerate them for them to really be words, so maybe that’s why they didn’t get around to it.

  2. I arrived here because I, too, just assumed the improprietous must be a word and I wanted to make sure I was using it correctly. Alas, it’s not a word. My thought is that we should just start using it and through sheer preponderance of usage, the official wordsmiths will have to canonize it in the future. This is how many words have made it into the official lexicon.

  3. Yet another new fan brought here by googling ‘improprietous’ and getting a link to this blog. I’m willing to take on OED-you with me Jamescamp?

  4. Also, other non words which have pickled me lately:
    Eludicate (istg I was not high when i came up with that one)
    Trepidous
    I dont expect anyone to join me in this madness, but I do wonder why I try to use so many not words.

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