Word Spy Blog

Twitter’s Knack for New Words

This week I come not to bury Twitter, but to praise it. Specifically, I want to sing its under-appreciated genius for neological invention, where people tweet not what they had for breakfast, but the word they just coined, the phrase they just made up, the portmanteau they just put together.
Words Spied
ambidisastrous adj. Equally ruinous or calamitous in two ways or along two fronts. (ambi- [“on both sides”] + disastrous) [@DesolateCranium]

aurogenous adj. Aurally pleasing. (aural + –genous; cf. erogenous) [@giggleloop]

courtwalk n. The notional fashion show that women’s tennis is becoming. (tennis court + catwalk) [@VVFriedman]

literallyliterally adj. Definitely not figuratively. [@Rand_Simberg]

loiterature n. Articles, posts, books, or other material that a person reads while waiting. (loitering + literature) [@jeffstrabone]

olfactoid n. An imagined or hallucinated smell. (olfactory + factoid) [@winnig]

Word of the Week
messipe n. An ad hoc or idiosyncratic collection of practices and rules for making a relationship work. (messy + recipe) [@Kendraspondence]


Cruft* of the Week

competitable adj. Responsibly aggressive. (competitiveaccountable) [@RebekahLeach]

“Poorly built, possibly over-complex; generally unpleasant” —The Jargon File.

Quick Links
Analyzing the Dynamic Evolution of Hashtags on Twitter

Cultural Fault Lines Determine How New Words Spread On Twitter, Say Computational Linguists

Diffusion of Lexical Change in Social Media (PDF)

The Language of Twitter (PDF)

The linguistics of self-branding and micro-celebrity in Twitter: The role of hashtags

Twitter shows language evolves in cities

Close Quote
Neology, far from being a separable linguistic phenomenon that manifests itself periodically or sporadically in response to social stimuli, in fact rises out of ordinary linguistic competence, what might be called the linguistic collective unconscious of the speech community.
—Victoria Neufeldt, “A Civil but Untrammeled Tongue: Spontaneous Creativity in Language”